Sim Lim Square: A Place to Avoid?

To many people, Sim Lim Square was a place to buy cheap electronics stuffs, especially tourists who might had been misled by articles or friends who are not familiar with Sim Lim Square. To people who are familiar, we had heard horror stories about how cheap the cameras or handphone might be, but for most of the cheap deals, you are either getting second hand phone being sold as new phones (of couse they can quote a lower price) or cameras and other electronics products with new casing but old components inside being sold as new to customers.

Those horror stories are aplenty, but not explicitly amplified as most people just count themselves unlucky and only complain to friends or relatives. This recent tactics of selling cheaper than the rest and getting people to sign a contract to buy the so-called warranty that is so extraordinarily expensive is not new, but only gained much attention after the shop owner overdid it and got the unnecessary spotlight. Many people are duped into signing the warranty ‘contract’, that requires them to fork out much more money for the so-called warranty, and many people thought they are bounded by the contract and either have to pay the warranty fee or forgo the money that they paid for the phone.

Even when police was contacted, they were only able to help get a partial ‘refund’ of the initial amount paid due to the signed contract. Many people do not understand that the contract never really hold any real legal power as they were duped into signing it without knowing the full content of the contract.

But at that point of time, with the shop owner holding the contract you just signed, the police were not able to do much to help, the only way to get redress would be to go through legal proceedings, where in most cases, the shop would have to give in, but that would be too much hassle for ordinary citizens like us and even less possible for tourists who would be returning to their country soon. That’s why these shop owners likes to target tourists.

If you sit back and think about it, how often do you need to sign a contract to buy things from a retail shop? Unless you are signing up for mobile package or broadband package that gives you a discount for your mobile phone or equipment, there’s really no reason to sign any contract when buying things! If I want to buy a handphone without contract, I just pay the seller the money, get the handphone and goes off! Any warranty should be with the manufacturer of the device, and not with the shop that sell that device! How would we know if the shop would still be there one year down the road?

Sim Lim Square shops were also well known to change their names regularly, so any bad publicity or previous warranty by the shop no longer needs to be honoured! That’s why it’s better to ensure that the warranty of whatever products you buy from the shops are by the manufacturers and not by the shop. Most shops that sell much cheaper then other shops relies on so-called parallel imports, and those products being parallel imported do not have warranty covered by the manufacturers, thus the warranty would be taken up by the shop. In these cases, while consumers can get cheaper products, they would bear the risk of warranty issues if the product malfunctioned before the specified warranty period.

Why is Sim Lim Square so popular? It is because there are many techies around who like to DIY their computers! I was one of those DIY enthusiasts who assembled my own personal computers when I was younger. I enjoyed playing around with motherboards, harddisk and assembling them into the casing that I chose. I even assembled personal computers for many of my friends. But as I get busier, I got lazy. Nowadays, I’ll just do some homework by going through pricelists in hardwarezone and figuring out which combination of components would give me the best value for my money and which shops are selling cheaper than the other shops.

I would often find this shop selling certain items cheaper, while the other shop selling other items cheaper, etc, but the price difference would not be big and due to my laziness, I would not buy different items from different shops and assemble them myself. Instead, I’ll just choose whatever components I need from the same shop, do it for a few shops, and just go to the shop with the lowest total cost. Most, if not all, shops provide free assembling services, you just need to pay for the components you choose and pass them to their assembling technician. You can either stay and watch him assemble the computer for you or go for a drink and return an hour later to collect.

But why not other places? Sim Lim Square is practically the only place in Singapore where you can find such a variety of PC components and hardware. You might find such shops around your neighbourhood but they do not offer the high-end components as what the shops in Sim Lim Square do.

From my experiences, shops from level 4 and above have better deals, or rather, have the components that I need. I would never go Sim Lim Square to buy handphone or camera or even electronics like vcd/dvd players, television and not even notebook/laptops! It is purely a place for personal computer components to me. Funan centre would be a better place to look for notebooks/laptops. With the BigBox coming up in Jurong East, I’m hoping they would provide as an alternative to Sim Lim Square, but seems like BigBox would be more focused on electronics rather than personal computer components. Just hope they would be able to weed out unscrupulous vendors from their tenants list and not create another cheating space for those errorenous Sim Lim Square vendors.

Visit Sim Lim Square only if you want to buy:
•Personal Computers (not laptops)
•Computer peripherals (mouses, keyboards, etc.)
•Printers and its compatible third party refill cartridges (save money from costly manufacturer ink)
•Latest electronic gadget/device (not from the first and second floors)
•CDs, DVDs and other recordable medium – it is here where you can buy in bulk
•Second-hand monitors and computers – at the back alley shops, third and fourth floors

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