STORE CLOSE, CASE OPEN

Like whoa. Just saw the news about “Sophia Wedding Collection” sudden closure which has put a dent in some couples’ “happily ever after” plans.

Reminding us of some similar “sudden closure” incidents, here in sunny, hazy-once-a-year, squeaky-clean, SINGAPORE.

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Some CASE studies from not too long ago: 

1. remember FIVE STARS TOURS – wander lust, wander bust

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Thousands of travellers were left in the lurch after coach and travel agency Five Stars Tours abruptly closed all eight of its branches – CASE received some 250 complaints

2. remember AFFINITY YOGA – bent out of shape

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(formerly Absolute Yoga) Both studios (one in River Valley and the other on Telok Ayer Street) closed without notice, causing an uproar on social media. Several members have filed police reports against the company.

3. remember WAX IN THE CITY – ooh, members, burnnn

closed down unexpectedly, leaving thousands of members who had signed for packages costing up to thousands of dollars, high and quite literally dry.

4. remember SKY FITNESS – from rock-solid to liquid-ate

A gym to roughly 700 members in HarbourFront, which ceased operations unexpectedly allegedly owed a total of $3.8 million to its members, banks and other stakeholders.

 

Points to Note:

  • Victims in most cases banded together on social-networking websites like Facebook to update each other on the situations and to discuss recourse, as well as draw media attention. So make some (reasonable) noise, people!
  • Woe are those lacking in communication skills. Winston Churchill once said “tact is telling someone to “go to hell” in such a way they look forward to it.” We reckon that should be applied when dealing with your consumers. The ones who will do the above – take their grievances to the web, are the ones that haven’t been tactfully dealt with.
  • Be prepared tho… few victims, if any, truly recover their money. (It seems: It boils down to the Companies Act. Owners of private limited firms – which most pre-payment businesses are – have limited liability and cannot be sued directly for company debts. It becomes criminal fraud only if one can prove that the firm intended to cheat. This is difficult to do as closures may look simply like failed business endeavours.)
  • CASE needs to prove businesses have deliberately cheated their customers. For now, it continues to advise consumers against buying prepaid packages. Tell all your weak friends.
  • Banks / Credit Card Co. cannot help much. Seems our insurance policy in place is not set up like some parts of Europe. The consumer still has the onus of making wise decisions, or shoulder the burden.
  • Police help may also be limited. In the past, the police have said such matters are commercial transactions and out of their hands. But last month, it started investigating hair salon The Scissorhands, after it shut and left hundreds of customers in the lurch. – giving us hope!

 

From all of us at FSaaM, we wish CASE all the best in cracking this one, and hope you all shop wisely, consumers!

 

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