Part III of the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA) of Singapore laid down a ‘lemon law’ provision where a consumer can make a claim for a defective product sold to him or her within 6 months of purchase.
A seller is obligated to repair, replace, refund or reduce the price of the defective product. The lemon law provisions are sections 12A – 12F of the CPFTA.
The lemon law covers all general consumer products sold in Singapore, for example, electronics, furniture, motor vehicles, apparel, stationary etc. It does not apply to services and business-to-business or consumer-to-consumer transactions.
Second-hand products and vehicles are covered under the lemon law provided these products are of “satisfactory quality” i.e. to be determined by the product’s age at the time of delivery and price paid by the consumer.
What is deemed a ‘defective product’?
A product is defective if it does not conform to the agreement at the time of delivery (section 12B(1)(b) of the CPFTA).
Situations where a product is defective:
- It does not correspond with its description; or
- It is not of a satisfactory quality; or
- It is unfit for any purpose informed to the seller before the seller purchases the product.
Time limit to make a claim under the Lemon Law
A consumer should first determine whether the defective product had been purchased within the past 6 months. Lemon law remedies are available if a consumer purchased the defective product within the past 6 months.
However, lemon law remedies are not available if the product becomes defective after 6 months of purchase.
Remedies available to the consumer
A consumer may bring the defective product back to the seller and request one of the following:
- 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.
Alternative remedies (subject to certain conditions)
If the seller is unable to repair or replace the defective product within a reasonable time, or if the repair or replacement amounts to unreasonable cost, the consumer may request one of the following:
- Reduce the price of the defective product; or
- Refund for the defective product.
Seller refuses to remedy the defect
If the seller refuses to remedy the defective product, the consumer can make a complaint to the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE). The CASE is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation (NGO) established to promote fair-trading and protest the interest of the consumer.
When is a Consumer not entitled to remedies under the Lemon Law?
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.
- The consumer had tried to repair the item himself or had someone else try to repair it, and in the process damaged it.
- The consumer had been informed about the fault before he bought the item.
- The consumer had changed his mind and no longer wanted the item.
- The fault is because of wear and tear.