The Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act or CPFTA took effect on 1 March 2004. Since then, Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) has worked closely with the Ministry of Trade and Industry to periodically make any necessary updates to the law to ensure that it remains relevant.

Singapore’s lemon law is one of the relatively recent creations. It came into effect in 2012 in the form of amendments to the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act, allowing consumers to pursue claims against defective goods which do not meet reasonable performance expectations and are not of satisfactory quality and which are purchased within a six-month period.

The name itself dates back to the 1960s when new cars with some manufacturing defects and worthless used cars were referred to as “lemons”.

The lemon law covers all general consumer products in Singapore, purchased either online or offline, such as electronics, motor vehicles, apparel, stationary, furniture, second hand goods under certain conditions, etc. On the other hand, it does not apply to services, consumer-to-consumer and business-to-business transactions, goods that are rented or leased and real estate property.

As the main purpose of these regulations is to provide consumers with additional protection, consumer may bring the defective product back to the seller and request either:

  • Repair the defective product within a reasonable time at the seller’s cost; or
  • Replace the defective product within a reasonable time at the seller’s cost.

If the repair or replacement by the seller is not possible within a reasonable time or due to unreasonable cost, other options available to the consumer are refund for the defective product or possibility of price reduction.

Even though lemon law primarily works in favor of consumers, it also prescribes the conditions under which the seller is not obliged to do all of the above.

The seller is not required to remedy the defective product if:

  • The consumer had damaged the item,
  • The consumer had misused the item and caused the fault as a result,
  • The consumer had damaged the item while trying to repair/modify it himself or through a third party,
  • The consumer was informed about the fault before he bought the item,
  • The consumer had simply changed his mind and no longer wants the item.

In the spirit of good business practice, a general recommendation is that retailers should ensure that the goods they sell always match their description and are, in fact, fit for their purpose as marketed and promoted.

If at the end of the day there is a valid basis for the application of the lemon law and the seller does not want to act on the buyer’s request and refuses to remedy the defective product, the consumer can opt for the last remedy guaranteed under lemon law regulations and claim a complaint to the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE).  

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