Firms in abrupt closures liable for customers’ losses

The Government makes it easy to start a business here, and this should be applauded, but the spate of abrupt business closures in the past year that have left consumers in the lurch signals a need to better protect consumers when businesses fail.

Some of the businesses that have shut down recently include Sophia Wedding Collection, Sky Fitness, Five Star Tours and a car workshop that underwrote warranties for cars.

These shutdowns have left thousands with little recourse for the monies they have lost for paying for services upfront.

With less than S$100, one can easily set up a business within a month. There is little chance of moving away from the pro-business environment that the Government has cultivated. Thus, the logical way forward is to punish those responsible for losses suffered by consumers.

The aim is not to punish businesses for failing. But business owners who have collected money in advance and have not been able to provide refunds when the business closes must face the full brunt of the law.

First, the names of those who have evaded paying customers their due should be made public if they are arrested.

Second, laws should be enhanced so that those who have not fulfilled their end of the bargain and caused great losses will go to jail, to deter unethical practices.

This way, business owners will learn to be more responsible and consumers will be protected against unethical owners. Only then will the public have confidence in Singapore’s business environment.

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