Consumer Advisory – Consumers advised on the importance of reading the fine print when shopping online
 

The Consumers Association of Singapore (“CASE”) would like to remind consumers on the importance of reading the fine print when shopping online.

In November 2015, CASE started receiving complaints against Fashion Interactive Pte. Ltd. (“Fashion Interactive”), an e-commerce site selling footwear (website: https://myglamorous.sg). Consumers reported that they were unaware of being automatically enrolled in a VIP membership programme after making a purchase and were charged recurring monthly membership fees. They had overlooked the VIP membership enrolment as details of the programme were in fine print on the website.

After receiving the complaints, CASE engaged Fashion Interactive, which agreed to resolve all consumer disputes filed with CASE, and they have done so. They also agreed to fully refund consumers.

In addition, CASE requested for Fashion Interactive to review its online purchasing processes and conditions and to make its membership model more transparent to consumers. CASE’s position was that consumers must opt-in for the membership voluntarily and the recurring monthly charges should be clearly brought to their attention, instead of being written in fine print.

Despite informing Fashion Interactive of its obligations under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act, CASE continued to receive consumer complaints about the recurring monthly membership charges. This suggests that consumers continue to be misled when purchasing from Fashion Interactive. Between January 2017 and December 2018, CASE received 38 complaints on recurring membership charges.

Under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act, businesses cannot use small print to conceal a material fact from the consumer in connection with the supply of goods or services. CASE is of the view that any material information about a purchase, such as recurring charges, should be provided upfront and prominently displayed on the webpage.  

Meanwhile, consumers who had previously purchased goods from Fashion Interactive are advised to review their credit card statements and contact CASE if they encounter any difficulty in obtaining a refund from the business. Consumers should note that substantial discounts or benefits offered by businesses may contain hidden charges. Hence, it is important to pay close attention to the terms and conditions of a contract before making a purchase.

Consumer Advisory – Update on Advisory on LuxStyle International Sales ApS
 

The Consumers Association of Singapore (“CASE”) would like to remind consumers that they are not obliged to make any payment to a business for goods or services that they did not explicitly agree to purchase.

In November 2016, CASE started receiving complaints against Danish online retailer, Lux International Sales ApS (“LuxStyle”). These complaints relate to LuxStyle sending out payment notices to consumers even though they did not agree to the purchase. Consumers reported that they had to enter their personal information in order to view their prices of the products. Upon viewing the prices, they did not proceed but were still charged anyway. Arising from the complaints, CASE issued a consumer alert against LuxStyle in May 2017. Since then, CASE has received an additional 18 complaints against the business.

On 7 December 2018, CASE was alerted to feedback that some consumers have been receiving letters from debt collection agency, Collectius CMS (S) Pte Ltd (“Collectius CMS”), to make immediate payment for debt allegedly owed to Digital Sourcing ApS (“Digital Sourcing”), formerly known as LuxStyle. Upon receipt of the feedback, CASE engaged Collectius CMS to inform them that they should not be collecting debts which were never incurred by consumers. CASE understands that they had ceased all related debt recovery action with effect from 5 December 2018. Any consumer who made payment to Collectius CMS on this matter should be refunded in full.

Under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act, a business cannot assert the right to payment for providing unsolicited goods or services. Hence, consumers are not obliged to make payment for unsolicited goods, until and unless they have given express agreement for the purchase.

Consumers with additional concerns may contact CASE for further assistance (hotline: 6100 0315, website: www.case.org.sg).

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