Feb 17 2011

How to avoid rip-offs at Sim Lim Square

Published by at 11:56 pm under Shopping

Sim Lim Square: Deals among the rip-offs

Welcome to Singapore, where the streets are free of touts, prices are the same for everyone, and taxi drivers always use the meter! So is Singapore truly scam-free? I’d have to say the answer is almost, but not quite. Tourists do occasionally get ripped off and nine times out of ten it happens at Sim Lim Square.

Located between Little India and Bugis, Sim Lim Square is Singapore’s largest IT mall.

Acting on the false belief that Singapore has extremely low prices on electronics, tourists flock to Sim Lim Square to snatch up the latest cameras and computers.

Some unscrupulous salespeople are unable to resist the easy sales and take advantage of tourists who assume they’re getting a great deal.

Most of Sim Lim’s vendors are reputable, but you can defend yourself from the rip-off artists by following these tips:

Compare prices
Before you make a major purchase it’s a smart idea to check the price at other local shops and even in your home country. Prices on new brand-name electronics really don’t vary that much and Singapore is definitely not the cheapest place to shop. I got a much better deal on my DLSR camera in Canada and the warranty is longer!

Information is power
It’s easy to use the internet to check a product’s suggested retail price and even print out information about what you plan to buy. S$400 may seem like a great price for a digital camera with accessories, but not when you later discover it’s an old model and suggested retail price is now S$300.

Confirm the total price
One of the most common complaints is salespeople who add surprise ‘unlocking fees’ to the bill for phones and video games. These fees are often a scam.

Be wary of fakes
I don’t recall Apple launching an iPhone nano, but I have seen one at Sim Lim Square! Though police raids have made them rare, fakes do exist.

Don’t be charmed
The shops on the first floor are known for specifically targeting tourists. Anyone who shouts at you across the mall about special deals ‘just for you’ probably doesn’t have good intentions.

If the worst-case scenario happens and you feel you have been ripped off, you can contact the police or the Consumers Association of Singapore.

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20 responses so far

20 Responses to “How to avoid rip-offs at Sim Lim Square”

  1. wanderingcaton 19 Feb 2011 at 12:17 am

    it’s not just the first/ground floor that locals avoid, other floors can have black sheep too.

    official site: http://www.simlimsquare.com.sg
    the store listings page has links to shops that have websites – some of them have pricelists available on their websites

    pricelists & info on special offers (especially during any of the 4 major annual IT/electronics fairs that coincide with the March, June, Sept & Dec school holidays) can also be found on sites like http://pricewatch.vr-zone.com/ & local online forums/discussion boards like hardwarezone.com.sg; there’s even an iphone app but am not sure how well it works: http://itunes.apple.com/sg/app/sim-lim-sq/id401675027?mt=8

    for camera-related items, the clubsnap forum is another place for tips on places to get what you need in Singapore.

    the Singapore tourism board has/had a blacklist of stores to avoid, including those that have been abusive (even violent) to customers. however, stores can be/were removed from the blacklist simply because no new complaints have been received about them within a certain timeframe, & not because they have cleaned up their act…be warned…Google & local online forums are your friends ;)

  2. Samanthaon 22 Feb 2011 at 11:09 am

    That’s great, thanks for the extra info!

  3. Steveon 19 Feb 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Sfter having been ripped off by PC geeks in sim lim city in February 2012 I can only read the above comments and laugh. My story is probably very familiar had a part number for a computer went to PC Geeks in Sim Lim City and was assured that the part they had for me was the correct one. Later I checked cos I was just feeling a bit uneasy and lo and behold they had sold me something completely different after assuring me that it was the par I was after. They refused to swap, exchange or refund the money….

    I felt that I have been ripped off completely by PC geeks. I hope that other people avoid PC Geeks.

  4. Tanyaon 21 Feb 2012 at 10:30 am

    Sorry to hear that, Steve.

    You can try filing a complaint against PC Geeks with the Singapore Consumer protection board. You can even do it online — http://www.case.org.sg/online_complaint.html

  5. jimmytanon 05 Mar 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Trusted are all shops in 3/4/5th Level .. especially those who are in front row as they have better reputation and good sales too to sustain the business.

    Look for businesses with proper labelling of prices and also those with pricelist displayed properly.

    Enjoy shopping in Sim Lim Square

  6. Tanyaon 05 Mar 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Good advice – thanks jimmy!

  7. Nigelon 06 May 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Folks, wish I had seen this website before I visited Sim Lim Square on 3 May 2012 as I just got ripped off with the hidden ‘unlocking’ fee after buying a Samsung 7″ Tab. I paid for the product and they guy started up the tablet and said do I have my phone sim so he could add into the device. I said I didn’t have my phone. As a result he then said “would you like to use the product internationally for making phone calls. I said of course, I live overseas. He disappeared into the back for 5 mins and came back saying ‘it’s done”. After pursauding me to buy a screen protector for $25 he fitted it and said how would you like to pay for the screen protector? I said for $25 I would pay cash.

    The next question was “how about the $299 unlocking charge?” A pink invoice slip was presented to me. I tried argueing my poiint saying there had been no mention of price and if there was a charge $299 for 5 mins of work was ridiculous but I was not allowed to leave with the tablet without paying.

    As I used my credit card I have lodged a dispute with Visa and will also be contacting the Singapore Consumer Board. I also dropped a note to the Singapore Tourist Board mentioning the scam that I had just experienced.

    Hopefully, Focuspoint Electronics (on the ground floor) will get some heat. However the morale of this story is ‘DON”T SHOP AT SIM LIM SQUARE’! The same Samsung product was available at roughly the same price at Harvey Norman in Sngapore and also at the Duty Free store at the airport. How I wish I had saved myself the grief ad pain of not shopping in Sim Lim Square…!

  8. Tanyaon 06 May 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Hi Nigel – my blood is boiling just reading your story! How extra-sneaky that they added the unlocking fee after you had already paid for the tablet. Otherwise I’m sure you just would have walked out!

    Please let us know how things work out with the Singapore Consumer Board and Tourist Board – I hope you get your $299 back!

    What I probably would have done in this situation (where they wouldn’t let me leave the store with paying the fee) is called the police. If you’re from a Western country this seems really odd as the police are usually reserved for violent crimes/thefts, but in Singapore it’s quite normal to call the police over any kind of dispute!

  9. Jun Camachoon 25 May 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Edison Electronics Pte in the first floor of Sim Lim Square is a cheat. On May 21, my last day in Singapore, I was looking for a NIKKOR DX 18-200mm VR II and the store’s salesperson offered me a price lower by $50 than the other camera stores at Sim Lim. Next thing I knew, he offered me a SIGMA 18-200mm OS HSM with a much lower price. He sweet talked me about the features of the SIGMA lens to the point of even trying out the lens in my D90 NIKON camera which I brought along with me to the store. After telling me the advantages of a SIGMA lens over a NIKON, he told me that he will sell to me the SIGMA lens for SGD$850. I thought that this was a bargain since the NIKON lens costs over SGD$1000. I was a tourist and being naive and trustful, I bought the lens for SGD$850. I could have asked other stores at Sim Lim for a price quotation but I was in a hurry because my plane home will be leaving in 4 hours. After the purchase and when I was back at home, I looked at the price of the SIGMA lens and it only costs SGD$500! SO, I AM ADVISING ALL TOURISTS TO AVOID STORES AT SIM LIM SQUARE, PARTICULARLY EDISON ELECTRONICS PTE. THEY WILL SWINDLE YOU BY PRETENDING TO BE FRIENDLY, AMIABLE AND CARING SALESPERSONS. By the way, I asked for a business card of the salesperson and he handed me a card WITHOUT A NAME! I told him to write his name on the card and the cheat’s name was CHARLES TAY.

  10. Edmondon 12 Sep 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Just got cheated today at Mobile Apps Pte Ltd at #02-72 by a salesperson called Reece. Sold me a Samsung Tab 8.9 LTE at $900. He included a 32G SD Card inside the unit but later found out that this Tablet had no expendable memory slot. Pity I found out only when I got home. Now I know why he was so generous giving me a leather cover, screen protector, USB connector kit & 32G micro SD card (which was missing when I got home). Also he was very insistant in me getting this particular Tablet rather than the Samsung 10.1 inch tablet which was much cheaper. So folks don’t ever go to Mobile Apps Pte Ltd at #02-72. They’re there just waiting to rip you off.

  11. Singapore: Asia's shopping hotspot : Asia World Reviewon 22 Sep 2012 at 11:06 pm

    [...] are Sim Lim Square and Funan Centre. If you patronize smaller shops with lots of taunting, beware of being over-charged especially if you look obviously like a tourist. Prices at major retailers such as Harvey Norman, [...]

  12. Nicoon 29 Sep 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Have to chime in.

    1) Visitors need to understand that Singapore is a small market. Electronics will always be cheaper in the US, Japan and Korea. Buying electronics in Singapore is not a bargain for most visitors. Australians and Indians probably being the exception.

    2) SIm Lim is a textbook example of a cartel. The only way all these small, inefficient shops, can guarantee they all stay in business – when they all sell essentially the same thing – is price collusion.

    3) Don’t shop here without knowing what something is worth. The easiest way is to price your gadget on amazon.com. If you can get within 5-10% with exchange you’ve done well.

    4) I’ve bought hard drives and memory cards here at reasonable prices. Big ticket has never been worth it IMO.

    Takeaway / Short. Know prices. Befriend an American and get electronics from the US if you really want to save money.

  13. unknownon 14 Dec 2012 at 10:23 pm

    Try going to sim Lim square’s camera talk pte located on level 2 near the escalators or on level 1(same one), it’s a good bargain!:) Their service was nice too!!!I am happy to recommend this shop:)

  14. Xiaoon 14 Jan 2013 at 3:16 pm

    PLease Beware of Bliss Computers in the fourth floor , Added with additional GST , it will be overpriced , Sometimes the device faulty , they never take back and ask you to go to vendor.

    You will loose everything with faulty products.

  15. Tanya Procyshynon 17 Jan 2013 at 10:21 am

    Thanks for sharing details about which stores to avoid!

  16. Prateekon 20 Feb 2013 at 5:32 pm

    I have recently visited Singapore (and Sim Lim)… and have some new learnings to share.
    1. Dont buy from Sim Lim (said to me by a chinese show owner at Sim Lim itself)
    2. If you still want to buy, Look for Big Stores, there prices will be nearly same to the one you are getting outside
    3. On the Elevator walls (outside)… the Singapore Consumer Association has put List of stores & the Consumer Complaints received against them. Make sure you check those before making a deal.
    4. Its better to buy from Mustafa Center (Little India) or Niranjan Electronics

    I got stuck in a rip off at 3 Plus Mobiles stores (ground Floor). he offered me a SGD 600 for Note 10.1 tablet. I asked him repeatedly if that is final price… are there any hidden charges, what about the GST. His reply was 600 all inclusive.

    When I made the payment, he said this is a Samsung product and company requires the store to Register the product. For that I have to pay $200 more and on top of that I have to get it unlocked for another $29. Making the Bill Price to 829$.
    When I told him that I will unlock it myself, and I know about the registration scam he is trying to pull of… he refused to give me the tablet…
    I had to argue (close to a fist fight) to make him void the 600$ he had charged on my credit card.
    I clicked the store keepers photo on my DigiCam, which scared him (maybe that I will show that to Police). Thats when he agreed to return my money.

  17. Dorison 07 Apr 2013 at 5:59 pm

    If I just had read about this 2 days ago….

    Just got ripp off in Focuspoint Electronics PTE LTD in SIM LIM TOWER. I understand this is ar Market Place and you are suposed to bargain. But that they officially cheat an laugh at you when you come back to complain makes me angry. I just payed 130 Dollar for an adapter worth 10-20 Dollar, just because I’m new to photography and didn’t know yesterday how they cheat on customers. There are many complaints about this company on the internet.

    They all should brought to court and the store to be shoot down. I thought Singapore has changed in the last 10 years.

    Police Officers passing by just said they can’t do anything.

  18. Linon 09 Apr 2013 at 2:31 am

    My bro got conned by #02-61. The person confirm the price and upon payment they change the amount and force him to pay. They are inhuman or should I say worse than beast cos my bro is only teenager and still schooling. A good lesson to teach this bunch of tattoo smoking bad egg!

  19. jpon 06 Dec 2013 at 3:32 pm

    AVOID PC GEEKS @ SIM LIM AT ALL COSTS!!! I asked for price of 16GB of RAM, they quoted $125, then at checkout they charged $250. I complained about discrepancy, they said $125 was per 8GB RAM even though I asked for price of 16GB. They would not allow cancellation of the sale even though I was still in store. THEN I FIND ON MY CREDIT CARD BILL THAT THEY CHARGED ME $500. Now, I am dealing with DBS to reverse this charge which takes 120days to clear up. NIGHTMARE. AVOID!!!

  20. Colinon 23 Jun 2014 at 8:22 am

    All the negative comments regarding SIM LIM are true I have been there many times but rarely buy anything its better to go to Funan Digital Mall and shop in Challenger. Not the cheapest in the world but at least they won’t rip you off.

    Word of warning, the sellers in Serangoon Road are no better. Watch for the trick when they ask to pre verify your credit card then kind of hold it untill you may the purchase.

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