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Refund policy - what can/should I do?

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sjs26
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Refund policy - what can/should I do?

Postby sjs26 » Sun, 03 Nov 2013 5:41 pm

Having moved here from the UK six months ago, I am still adjusting to the fact that every day can be a shopping day if you choose it to be. The range is extensive, and the names look familiar. However, the reality can still be ‘caveat emptor’ - buyer beware.

My task was simple. I was due to perform in a classical concert on 1 November, and as at 30 October, did not have suitable clothing. I was directed to a number of stores on Orchard Road and duly found one which specialised in evening gowns and occasion wear - in Paragon Mall. Beautiful clothes at luxury prices. Eventually the staff found a combination that seemed appropriate, The bill was far more than I was looking to pay, but as time was short, I decided to go ahead on the assumption that in the next 24 hours, I may find a more affordable alternative.

At no time before or during the purchase at the store was I advised that there was a zero refund policy. The credit card receipt stated a number of conditions around sale items, deposits and alterations, but nothing about refunds. There was no signage on the walls, windows or by the cashier desk.

On 31 October, I found a better option (which was both cheaper, and more in line with the dress code instructions), decided to buy it, and to return the first purchase (still in its tissue, unworn, in perfect condition).

At the same store, two working days after purchase, I was refused a refund. The store policy it seemed, was never to refund any purchase, except if the goods were faulty. The only option was a credit note for the equivalent sum valid for six months. The staff were perfectly civil, but implacable. I was stunned. In the UK, the US and all other international cities, consumer rights around the retail transaction are protected by law. The right of return (with a receipt and with goods in unused condition) is simply the way things work. The customer has the right to change their mind for whatever reason, and to expect the money to be refunded without constraint.

Not in this case, however.

The manager - who I called that afternoon - was similarly unmoved. I was informed that ‘everyone knows that in Singapore you don’t get a refund if you don’t like something, only if the goods are faulty’. To my amazement, the comments continued - ‘Did anyone twist your arm to buy this?’, ‘If you buy a car and then change your mind, do you return the car?’. The concept of right of return was apparently utterly foreign, and I was both naive and stupid to expect it.

As at today, I have no resolution on this. Talking to colleagues at work (all locals), the response was surprise and some shock at the treatment I received. On their advice, I have raised a complaint with CASE, so will wait to hear their response. They also suggested going on to forums like this to raise awareness of the issue. Frankly, if the Ministry of Trade and Industry is committed to presenting Singapore as one of the world’s leading commercial and tourism destinations, they need to address outdated attitudes and practices like this.

Am I overreacting here - or should this type of behaviour be exposed?

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zzm9980
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Postby zzm9980 » Sun, 03 Nov 2013 5:59 pm

Going to CASE is over-reacting. There is nothing you can do. There are almost no consumer protections in Singapore. They just recently enacted a lemon law, and that's about the extent of it.

In fairness to you, when I first arrived I was a bit surprised also. But in your situation planning what you were planning to do*, I would have explicitly asked what the refund policy was and/or seen what was posted. If I saw nothing posted, I would assume there was nothing.

*- What you did plan to do is sometimes considered fraud by retailers, payment associations, and even laws in some jurisdictions. If Singaporean retailers did allow what you did almost every single person on the island would do exactly what you did multiple times per week and the situation would be untenable. They'd be returning their chicken rice and nasi lemak if they found it 20 cents cheaper across the hawker center.

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x9200
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Postby x9200 » Sun, 03 Nov 2013 6:05 pm

You confuse the courtesy or good/high selling standards with the law.

https://www.gov.uk/accepting-returns-and-giving-refunds

It is like this (AFAIK) in any single EU member country so no refunds for
"The customer has the right to change their mind for whatever reason, and to expect the money to be refunded without constraint. "

sjs26
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Postby sjs26 » Sun, 03 Nov 2013 6:09 pm

Thanks for the advice. This is a learning point clearly. Interesting that the idea of 'shopping around' is actually considered worse behaviour in this context ... I obviously have much to absorb !

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zzm9980
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Postby zzm9980 » Sun, 03 Nov 2013 6:14 pm

sjs26 wrote:Thanks for the advice. This is a learning point clearly. Interesting that the idea of 'shopping around' is actually considered worse behaviour in this context ... I obviously have much to absorb !


I don't think it's worst behaviour, but you have to understand if retailers gave that courtesy it would be highly abused.

From x92's link:

You don’t have to refund a customer if they:
...
no longer want the item (eg because it’s the wrong size or colour) unless they bought it without seeing it

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JR8
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Re: Refund policy - what can/should I do?

Postby JR8 » Sun, 03 Nov 2013 6:55 pm

sjs26 wrote: My task was simple. I was due to perform in a classical concert on 1 November, and as at 30 October, did not have suitable clothing. I was directed to a number of stores on Orchard Road and duly found one which specialised in evening gowns and occasion wear - in Paragon Mall. Beautiful clothes at luxury prices. Eventually the staff found a combination that seemed appropriate, The bill was far more than I was looking to pay, but as time was short, I decided to go ahead on the assumption that in the next 24 hours, I may find a more affordable alternative.


So you bought an outfit, what, expecting to return it a day later? That was pretty stupid.

sjs26 wrote: At no time before or during the purchase at the store was I advised that there was a zero refund policy. The credit card receipt stated a number of conditions around sale items, deposits and alterations, but nothing about refunds. There was no signage on the walls, windows or by the cashier desk.


So? It’s not England, it’s not M+S ‘no questions asked’ refund policy. You couldn’t run a business like that here, you’d end up being a free costume hire shop to the masses.

It is your responsibility to be aware of the law. You don’t see road-signs, ‘Don’t drive on the wrong side of the road’, it’s your burden to know it.

sjs26 wrote: On 31 October, I found a better option (which was both cheaper, and more in line with the dress code instructions), decided to buy it, and to return the first purchase (still in its tissue, unworn, in perfect condition).


Here we go, there’s a surprise (rolls eyes). Totally unworn, bar the 3-4 hrs when I was just ‘trying it on’, at the cocktail party and some bitch said it made me look porky.

sjs26 wrote:At the same store, two working days after purchase, I was refused a refund. The store policy it seemed, was never to refund any purchase, except if the goods were faulty. The only option was a credit note for the equivalent sum valid for six months. The staff were perfectly civil, but implacable. I was stunned. In the UK, the US and all other international cities, consumer rights around the retail transaction are protected by law. The right of return (with a receipt and with goods in unused condition) is simply the way things work. The customer has the right to change their mind for whatever reason, and to expect the money to be refunded without constraint.


Sorry but you’re way off. The Sale Of Goods Act 1979 (to which you allude) requires no such thing. That refers to faulty goods. What you are used to is a lot of discretionary goodwill.
Shock horror: Singapore law is not precisely the same as back home /SH

sjs26 wrote: The manager - who I called that afternoon - was similarly unmoved. I was informed that ‘everyone knows that in Singapore you don’t get a refund if you don’t like something, only if the goods are faulty’. To my amazement, the comments continued - ‘Did anyone twist your arm to buy this?’, ‘If you buy a car and then change your mind, do you return the car?’. The concept of right of return was apparently utterly foreign, and I was both naive and stupid to expect it.


‘Utterly foreign’, or literally foreign?

sjs26 wrote: As at today, I have no resolution on this.


No resolution, 100% aligned with your random whim (based upon law from some foreign country).

sjs26 wrote:Am I overreacting here - or should this type of behaviour be exposed?


How about not buying what you don’t want. Is ‘that task’ simple enough? Lol!

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PNGMK
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Postby PNGMK » Sun, 03 Nov 2013 7:51 pm

I understand the frustration of trying to find something in Singapore but the very real reality of shopping in Asia is that it is old school; see it, test it, feel it, look at it, think about it, bargain and negotiate a price for it, buy it and then it's yours - no returns. This in part why Singapore can manage to remain reasonable ok on retail prices even with the crazy retail rents.

Even walmart is rethinking their returns policy and that shows how bad it is.

Guys - this lady is NOTHING compared to the B's on www.urbanbaby.com - there was a woman who there who admitted to clothing herself this way for YEARS.

I might add that in my own country (Australia) the shop assistants are trained to watch out for women like this - when you return a dress they'll sniff it; any smell of deodorant or perspiration and they'll refuse the claim on the (correct) grounds that it has been worn at least once outside the shop. Any sign of the price tags being removed or mutilated also causes them to refuse refunds. There's no right of refusal in Australia on the basis of changing ones mind either.

What you do in the future; Miss Pommy - is you identify the dress or item, keep it in mind or on a list (or take a pic with your mobile), make sure you know the shops working hours and buy it at the very last minute if you can't find something else.
Last edited by PNGMK on Sun, 03 Nov 2013 8:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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zzm9980
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Postby zzm9980 » Sun, 03 Nov 2013 7:57 pm

PNGMK wrote:I understand the frustration of trying to find something in Singapore but the very real reality of shopping in Asia is that it is old school, see it, test it, feel it, look at it, think about it, bargain and negotiate a price for it, buy it and then it's yours - no returns. This in part why Singapore can manage to remain reasonable ok on retail prices even with the crazy retail rents.

Even walmart is rethinking their returns policy and that shows how bad it is.

Guys - this lady is NOTHING compared to the B's on www.urbanbaby.com - there was a woman who there who admitted to clothing herself this way for YEARS.


CostCo in the US used to have a no questions asked two year return policy on *anything*. Full cash or credit refund. People would purchase TVs or Laptops and return them every 23 months for "free upgrades", getting back the full original price paid on something which normally depreciates astronomically in that much time.

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Re: Refund policy - what can/should I do?

Postby kookaburrah » Thu, 07 Nov 2013 11:56 am

JR8 wrote: scathing criticism, sarcasm and snide remarks


You can be one curmudgeonly bugger, JR8.

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Postby livingontheedge » Thu, 07 Nov 2013 1:17 pm

That's just the way it is in Singapore. Suppliers in Singapore rarely give in to the customers and Singapore consumers have come to accept this norm and even embrace to the point that asking for refund and requesting customer rights to be enforced is not only foreign but met with criticisms of "don't wanna buy, dont buy lor" and make it appear its the consumers to blame.

Frankly it upsets me when a restaurant or food stall that serve me dog food I am unable to return the food. Even if you leave the dish aside, not having to eat any of that vomit, the waiters would clear the dishes without a wonder "maybe they hate our food".

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Postby Max Headroom » Thu, 07 Nov 2013 2:25 pm

Refund Schmefund. Two weeks back, I bought a spanner, but a day later came back to the shop to exchange it for a bigger one, because the one I got was too small; while at my place, I'd spotted that it would be useless so didn't even take off the shop stickers.

When I got back to the shop, I told the staff, the same lady I'd bought the spanner from the day before, that I wanted the same spanner but a size up and that I'd pay her the balance of the bigger spanner, i.e. a few dollars more.

Guess what? "Cannot, no refund."

I was gob-smacked. I told her it's not a refund here, it's an upgrade and the shop will be up money. But she wouldn't budge.

Anyhoo, I did get the upgrade in the end, but only after I showed her that the wee spanner was practically still wrapped in its original packaging. Or maybe she was just tired of me.

I reckon refund terms should probably be somewhere between the Cosco's and Singapore's.

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Postby PrimroseHill » Thu, 07 Nov 2013 4:17 pm

There are shops that practice that 30day refund if the price tag and receipts are intact.; like Mango, Zara, etc.

Even in UK these days shops like Coast, Karen Millen, LK Bennett, Whistles, do not offer refund but exchange.

There are too many people that buy something from Marks wear it and then return it the next day.

How many times have I seen people buy from Marks, Gap, Banana Republic at X price, then when the sale came about they took everything back only to buy exactly the same thing for 50% off? :shock:

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Postby zzm9980 » Thu, 07 Nov 2013 5:20 pm

PrimroseHill wrote:How many times have I seen people buy from Marks, Gap, Banana Republic at X price, then when the sale came about they took everything back only to buy exactly the same thing for 50% off? :shock:


BR and Gap in the US at least will price match items if they go onsale within X days. I believe X is 30 or 45. Just bring the receipts in, they scan them, and give you money.

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x9200
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Postby x9200 » Thu, 07 Nov 2013 5:55 pm

I don't recall having problems with the exchange for more expensive goods. The few times I was in a need it was done with no questions asked (AV equipment, HN, Courts).

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Postby Wd40 » Thu, 07 Nov 2013 6:41 pm

Both Fairprice and Mustafa let you return goods, I think within 7 days of purchase. So big retailers in Singapore do allow it. Its just the small shops that don't want to allow it.


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