Previously a well-known haven for bargains on IT gadgets and electronics, the reputation of Sim Lim Square has taken several hits since last year. First came the Jover Chew saga last November, where a viral video of a Vietnamese tourist begging for a refund from Mobile Air owner Jover Chew sparked outrage among local netizens.
Next came a blitz of complaints directed at another Sim Lim retailer, Ziming Global. Several months on, the unfortunate effect of these scandals on businesses at Sim Lim square can still be felt, prompting the mall’s management to take action, Big Brother-style.
Sim Lim Square shops that see many complaints from consumers will now face extra surveillance — essentially, if you see CCTV cameras installed outside a particular shop, that’s a retailer with which you should be on your guard. Other marks of disrepute to look out for include audio recording devices, as well as stickers indicating that complaints have been made against them.
It’s clear that the idea behind these new measures is public “shaming”, and it might just be a clever one. Cracking down on errant retailers directly is something that the Sim Lim Square management has struggled with for years on end, so a system that creates a clear link between a shop’s reputation and patronage may just do the trick.
It’s also not the only method that the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) and Sim Lim Square landlords are taking to boost consumers’ faith in the mall — recent efforts include the creation of a “blacklist” of dodgy retailers, clauses that give landlords the power to kick out unsavory tenants, and blocking dishonest businesses from re-setting up shops entirely.
With the sheer number of measures being taken to protect consumers, even first-time customers should be able to shop at Sim Lim Square without feeling like they’re walking into a lion’s den. Sim Lim Square has long been our local paradise for a generation of tech geeks — let’s hope that with such extra security for customers, it will remain a haven for many generations to come.