Car Complaints Up 50% Since Singapore’s Lemon Law

Everything's coming up lemons in Singapore, and Automology's columnist, MAC, takes a moment to ponder on it. If you are famil...

Everything's coming up lemons in Singapore, and Automology's columnist, MAC, takes a moment to ponder on it.

If you are familiar with Singapore, you may think that this statement has something to do with the world famous shopping district in Singapore called Orchard Road, and in a way you would be right. The Lemon Law is actually an act of Parliament in the island republic that covers all things retail, and is described as pro-consumer and pro-friendly at the same time. So, what are Lemon Laws and why are car complaints up as a result?

Lemon Laws really originated in the USA or at least the name did, where just about every state has one, although none of them are officially called a Lemon Law. They are laws that protect the consumer or purchaser against defective goods, goods that fail to perform according to the contract or if the products fail to meet satisfactory quality or performance standards at the time of purchase. The term ‘lemon’ is really a colloquialism as none of the laws actually specifically mention lemons. The law in Singapore covers both new and secondhand items, and this is where the problem may lie.

Save our lemons!
So what is all the brouhaha about in Singapore then? Well, there have been numerous reports in the Singapore press over a dramatic rise in the number of complaints from car buyers under the Singaporean Lemon Law. In some publications, the increase in complaints is mentioned at 50%, with the Consumer Association of Singapore saying that it had handled 450 complaints from car buyers between September 2012 and August 2013; this is 50% more than the 297 complaints it handled in the previous corresponding period. The report is not clear, though, on how many of these complaints are for new and how many for previously owned cars.

Lucky for consumers in Singapore, the act covers the first 6 months after delivery. Therefore, those notorious used car salesmen have to be careful not to allow any lemons to squeeze out of their car lots, or else they may well be compensating the consumer. Whilst the level of complaints may seem high, there are almost 100 000 cars sold per year in Singapore, so it can hardly be called an epidemic and probably not worthy of all the headlines in Singapore since last week. Still, if life deals you lemons, make lemonade, that’s what I say…


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