In light of a recent slew of consumer complaints against mobile phone shops in Sim Lim Square, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (the "MTI") has highlighted some possible changes to the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (the "CPFTA"). It will soon be conducting a public consultation to seek feedback from consumers and stakeholders.
The CPFTA came into effect on 1 March 2004. It aims to protect consumers from unfair trade practices, and applies to most consumer transactions. In 2009, key amendments were made, one of which was to expand the scope of the CPFTA to include financial products and services.
The anticipated amendments seek to offer greater protection to consumers against errant retailers, and they include:
- The setting up of a new agency with investigative and enforcement powers within the MTI, to handle more serious complaints referred to it by the Consumers Association of Singapore (the "CASE");
- The imposition of criminal sanctions against errant retailers; and
- The extension of injunction orders to individual retailers, such that errant retailers cannot escape unpenalised by reopening a business elsewhere, and the requirement that errant retailers served with injunctions must make that known to consumers, thereby effectively blacklisting those bad hats.
The MTI has yet to release a draft of the proposed amendments. Public consultation is slated to commence soon, and will close in the third quarter of 2015.