Case organises consumer fair on renovation pitfalls on Sept 2

SINGAPORE — To educate Singaporeans on pitfalls to avoid when renovating their homes or purchasing big-ticket furniture or household appliances, the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) is organising a free education fair on Sept 2 at NTUC Centre.

The Smart Consumers, Smart Homes fair will educate consumers intending to renovate their homes on how to select a responsible and reputable renovation contractor, their consumer rights under the Lemon Law, and how to protect their deposits and pre-payments.

The fair, held in partnership with the Building and Construction Authority, Housing and Development Board, Singapore Renovation Contractors and Material Suppliers Association (RCMA) and SPRING Singapore, is prompted by the trend of Singaporeans doubling their spend on renovation packages in recent years, said the consumer watchdog on Tuesday (Aug 29).

“This is especially so when many consumers pay a large deposit, or even pay in full upfront to the renovation contractor,” Case said.

“(In these cases, consumers) then subsequently run into disputes due to multiple delays or unsatisfactory renovation works, or encounter renovation contractors that cease operations and become uncontactable after collecting payment,” it added.

Case noted that the total contract value of renovation packages went up from S$7.2 million in 2008 to S$14.26 million in 2016. The average value has correspondingly gone up from S$5,742 in 2008 to S$11,237 last year.

(Click to enlarge) Comparison of number of complaints received and value of renovation packages signed over the past decade. Table: Case

This increase in spending is despite the renovation contractor industry remaining among the top 10 industries with the highest numbers of complaints for the past decade, Case said.

Last year, this sector was ranked fourth, with a total of 1,269 complaints lodged with the watchdog. Top complaints received include failure to honour contractual obligations or unfulfilled promises, followed by unsatisfactory services.

To better protect consumers in this industry, Case started a joint accreditation scheme with RCMA last year, which protects consumers’ deposits against business closure through a deposit performance bond. There are currently 30 registered business under the CaseTrust-RCMA joint accreditation scheme.

The list of accredited businesses can be found at www.casetrust.org.sg, while information about the consumer education fair can be found at www.case.org.sg/events.aspx.

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