You may have seen - Sim Lim Square’s been under some scrutiny lately.
The tech shopping haven has always suffered from a dubious reputation and these latest incidents with Mobile Air and its now notorious owner Joven Chew hasn’t helped matters. The first two levels of Sim Lim are a veritable den of thieves and cheats, in the eyes of the public, and that’s not fair.
The problem is that there are hundreds of shops in Sim Lim Square, and a good number of them are legit businesses that won’t try to steal your pants when you aren’t looking.
If you feel like braving Sim Lim Square to haggle for good deals, here are some tips. You'll need them if you don't want to get ripped off.
1. Do Your Research!
If something is too good to be true, there’s probably a catch. Go online and check the retail price of what you’re looking for, so you’ll be able to spot a con-job when you’re shopping around. If it retails everywhere else for S$2000 and a shop is offering to sell it for S$950, it’s a steal.
Except it’s your money that’ll get stolen. Don’t be a cheapskate, or you might end up paying a lot more.
2. Look for the STARetailer logo
Although not a guarantee of the best prices or service, this means that the shop has - in theory - agreed to practice their business according to an ethics code. This includes not excessively overcharging, not hiding costs, not selling you defective products, etc.
But you should still compare prices and use some discretion. After all, the point of a business is to make a profit.
Just to be completely clear, a shop without the logo doesn’t mean you'll definitely get conned there.
3. Don't go in blind!
This ties in with doing your research. Don’t go into Sim Lim Square without a purpose, or without knowing exactly what you want That’s when you’ll start wandering into odd shops and get conned into getting something you might not have intended to buy anyway.
Know what you want, compare prices and then decide if you’re buying it. You don’t want to leave Sim Lim with a bag full of overpriced old cameras instead of the smartphone you were maybe thinking of getting…
(Image via Reddit)
4. Don’t understand? Don't sign!
Your signature is your legally binding promise. Don’t sign anything without reading it! And why do you have to sign anything apart from a credit card receipt (if you use a credit card) anyway?
A warranty card usually requires your particulars, the receipt and the shop’s stamp. So if an invoice looks rather dubious, or a warranty agreement needs your signature and comes folded in half - spend your time to read it. If you can’t, then go to another shop.
(Image found here)
5. Check the CASE complaints board
Some of Sim Lim Square’s shops privately own their units, so the building management cannot actually chase them out for breaches of conduct. The best they’ve been able to do is to list down the shops who have received the most consumer complaints. So check the complaints board before you start shopping. This will help you know which ones you should be avoiding.
6. Always keep the receipt
Before you buy something ask about the WERs: Warranty, Exchange Policy and Refunds. And always (ALWAYS!) hold onto the receipt like your life depends on it. If it’s a thermal paper receipt, take a photo of it or photocopy it before the letters disappear.
7. Choose from reputable shops
It has to be said that Sim Lim has never been known for stellar service standards - it’s really more of a bargain hunters' hub and computer parts paradise. As with spending money anywhere, keep your eyes open and your senses about you. To help you along, here are a few long-established and fairly reputable shops in Sim Lim, if you’re looking to brave that gadget jungle.
- Cybermind Pte Ltd - #04-24
- Fuwell Pte Ltd - #04-14
- Bell Systems Electronics - #05-68
- Perfect Watch & Electronics - #01-36
- Video - Pro. Com Pte Ltd - #05-75
Good luck! If you need even more helpful tips, check out Lester Chan's advice on Tech In Asia...