Sim Lim shops running scams on customers

Sim Lim shops running scams on customers

Our recent visit to Singapore over the week-end got us scouring around the shops of Sim Lim and Funan Digital IT Mall. Sim Lim has been a favorite gadget mall since a lot of stores carry new and interesting gadgets where you can haggle for discounts. Our recent visit was totally different though.

We headed off to Sim Lim Square on a Friday night of November 2 to look for the new iPad Mini that was released in Singapore that very same day. Most of the Apple Reseller stores in the city had ran out of stocks that same morning (local reports came that stocks of the iPad Mini ran out as early as 30 to 45 minutes from store opening).

We asked each and every store that look like they carry an Apple product for the iPad Mini and found about half a dozen of them still selling units. The prices they quoted us ranged from SGD$549 to SGD$599 for the 16GB model. That’s despite the fact that the same model only has a suggested retail price of SGD$448.

Understandably, these are re-purchased units bought at the base price then resold for a profit and landed in these stores to re-sell. Each time it is bought and re-sold, the price might be jacked up by SGD$50 to $SGD100. This is pretty normal and also applies with other iDevices, including the iPhone 5.

After walking around and scaling all 6 floors of the Sim Lim Square, we went back to the one that gave us the cheapest price only to discover that the first price they gave us wasn’t true and has changed to $600.

We were ready to walk out of there when a last ditch effort pointed us to a shop in the ground floor that offered it for SGD$480 (Php17k). We went inside and confirmed if it was really $480 and the Chinese owner confirmed. I thought it was a lucky break and since the shop was huge and manned by half a dozen people, I did not suspect anything. Since I was on Twitter at that time, a few other friends were also asking if I could buy them an iPad Mini as well.

I asked for the price of the other models and was quoted with a SGD$750 price for the 32GB (roughly Php26k). It was a little odd that the price difference between the 16GB and the 32GB was huge. I ended up confirming my order for a black 16GB and a white 16GB, repeatedly confirming the $480 price .


The store owner even tried to sell me a separate Lightning cable but I declined saying I already have a lot of them from my iPhone 5, iPod Touch and iPod Nano. After I handed him my credit card, he asked me if I wanted it unlocked. I was a bit confused about the “unlocked” but I said yes knowing that there’s no difference anyway for the WiFi model.

After swiping my card, the guy handed my the charge slip to sign. I discovered that the final amount was around SGD$1,440 (Php50k) for the 2 units. I was surprised since I thought it would only be SGD$960 (Php34k). I asked him to clarify and he said it was because I asked for the unlocked model. He then proceeded to show me the computation using his calculator (480 base price + 180 unlock price x 2 units x 10% CC charge = ~ 1,440).

I asked him to explain the unlock charge and he tried to confuse me saying the units came from the US and they had to pay an unlock price so it would work in Asia. After I said I don’t want the unlock and he should just give me a locked unit, he gave another explanation that in order for iTunes and the apps to work, I had to get it to unlock. After saying I didn’t want to use iTunes and any apps so I don’t need the unlock, he replied saying they already paid for the unlock so I should just sign the damn charge slip.

I argued that I did not want to buy it if there was an unlock charge and he didn’t even mention how much was the unlock charge before swiping my card. I added he could have made the unlock charge to $3,000 and I would have no way of knowing before he swiped my credit card.

The guy then tells me there are two models — the Singapore model that sells for SGD$620 and then the US model that sells for SGD$660 — and that I should just pick which one to get. I said I am no longer interested and asked them to reverse the charge.

The guy then suddenly yelled at me saying I am giving him trouble and that if I want to reverse it, he will charge me a 10% reversal fee. I said I will just call my credit card company and tell them to cancel it. We argued on and on for about 30 minutes and even if I said sorry, that this is all just a miscommunication and that I should instead go to the other stores and get the one at $599, he continued to berate me saying I am fooling him and he no longer wants me as a customer.

The guy is now angry, shouting at me, telling me to fuck off and shut up. I said I will shut up once he reverses my charge. After a very excruciating hour, we got out of the store in a hurry. Other customers are now looking at us.

We moved to another store to inquire before heading off to get a taxi back to our hotel. The other store owner conceded that a few stores in Sim Lim have that kind of modus operandi — giving inquiring customers really low prices and then charge them additional fees once the credit cards are swiped. It was a first time for me but fortunately, I was in the mood to argue and didn’t give in to the scam. I’ve been so used to Singapore as a really honest city, that you can leave your bag anywhere and no one would steal it so I did not expect store owners to be that scheming and lying thru their teeth.

Updated: Was able to get the reversal from them and upon checking the copy of the charge slips, I found the name of the store — Smart Connection – SI, Sim Lim Square #01-40, 1 Rochor Canal Road S188504.

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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80 Responses

  1. Ronald says:

    You could just buy here. Greenhills has them in stock but just the wi-if version. The 16GB is P21,000, 32GB P25,000 and 64GB P29,000. I got the 16GB in black which is P500 less than the white variety. Anyway, sorry for what happened to you. Scammers are everywhere.

  2. Jp says:

    Good call sir Yuga. I was planning on buying at Singapore too, never knew that there were scammers. Thanks

  3. mike says:

    so did you get back your money?

  4. Jiron says:

    Scamming is everywhere. Good thing you stand your ground. Did you try reporting the incident to the authorities?

  5. noknok says:

    Sim Lim Square is scammers’ heaven. Even the locals admit it is. Not once did I buy a gadget at Sim Lim despite the very ‘enticing’ prices.

  6. Scam City Singhapor says:

    pwede itong i-feature sa Scam City over Natgeo. Akala ko walang ganyan kasi to think na pinapalabas nilang mortal sin ang mag chewing gum, ganun sola ka disciplined……… oh well nothing is perfect in this world, hayaan mo nalang ang karma na gumanti sir

  7. noknok says:

    Sim Lim Square is scammers’ haven. Even the locals admit it is. Not once did I buy a gadget at Sim Lim despite the very ‘enticing’ prices.

  8. mike says:

    fuck that shop owner. i hope he falls down with his hands in his pockets.

  9. Asus_Fan says:

    May isang tech store akong napuntahan sa Sim Lim na may mga Pinoy staff, I forgot the name pero have you, by any chance, happen to stumble upon them since you’ve mentioned that you scoured every store that looked like apple dealers?

    It’s good that you did not sign the charge slip. Pinoy ka talaga, makilatis sa mga transaksyon. =]

    • Edan says:

      The shop where the employees are Filipinos are legit sellers! My sister bought her Ipod touch 4 last year. Mabait sila, nagbigay daw ng tips yan sa mga stores na bigla na lang papatungan yung prices

  10. juan says:

    dapat sinampal mo ipad sa mukha nya hehe

  11. coachjojoc says:

    Abe, the store you’re referring to…it’s right smack in the middle of the ground floor?

  12. alfranz3 says:

    It is in Singapore but the owner is Chinese. haha.

  13. I don’t think guy know the number rule in managing a business, “The customer is always right”. I am glad you managed to reverse the payment. Imagine being that much just for two iPad Minis. Jeez!

  14. von says:


  15. Cheriper says:

    Nangyari n samin toh sa may lucky plaza. Bumibili yung friend ko ng cheap samsung touchscreen phone. Naghanap kami ng pinaka mura na unit at nakakita kami ng 100sgd na price. Kinuha na namin ang unit at tumaas ang price gawa ng vat. tas sinabi nya na iuunlocked nya daw yung phone. hinde kami sumagot kase alam ko unlocked lahat ng phone sa sg. May batas kase sa kanila nun. At nung babayaran na namin yung unit umangat ng 150 yung presyo nya.tae nakita ko wala nman sya ginawa para maunlock yung phone. kunwari dinikit lang sa laptop. sabi ko iba na lang kukunin ko yung nakalocked. Di daw pwede dahil nabuksan nya daw yung box. Nakipag away talaga ko. Ayun nakuha phone sa 120 sgd inis dahil manloloko yung lalaking yun.

  16. Nangyari din yan sa amin nung magpunta kami dyan, same story, Ipad 2 naman yung bibilhin sana namin. Ayun nadali kami ng php 3k+ doon.

  17. Jedi says:

    The stores in Funan have the best reputation as per my Singapore friends

  18. NeutralGuy says:

    fooling a techy guy. Lol :)) gotta give +1 for the store owner for trying HAHAHA you should have reported it to the authority for fooling people. :))

  19. Jim says:

    Ive been in Singapore for almost 2 years and i’ve never bought anything in Sim Lim nor Lucky plaza. Was already warned even before not to go to these places. Scammers heaven nga. I always go to funan to buy stuff. Then i check stores as well, though most of the shops naman in funan are legit store and you can really get the cheaper prices. Hindi sila Tiyangge.

  20. RJ Ignacio says:

    It’s better to shop @funan..but if you really want to go to simlim, better check all of the items you will be getting (or not getting) first and settle for a “final price” since you will be getting GST refund (for tourists)..

    There are lots of bad reviews for simlim shops, one story I read ended up with the customer asking the help of a police officer (w/c is rare to spot in sg) to get a refund..

  21. joey says:

    Sir, ano name ng store baka makapunta kami don bukas, bibili rin kami pero cash. at least aware na ako sa modus nila. hehehe

  22. henroguy says:

    A few years ago, I one spent a whole day comparing prices in most of the shops in SimLim and found many of them were plain scammers I agree that Funan is better, though I ended up buying in Low Yat Plaza in Malaysia instead.

  23. Vin says:


    Yes sir mga ibang stores po sa SG may ganyang modus lalo na po sa Lucky Plaza.. Minsan umaabot po ng 200sgd ang unlock at sasabihin lang nila pag na open na ang box kaya wala nang magagawa ang customer.

  24. Reynaldo Go says:

    Happened to my brother also in Simlim. Same modus operandi. They quote you a low price. Then when you already agreed to the price and pay them, then they say there is a charge for unlocking. And they will not return the money even if you say you will cancel the purchase. My brother even went to look for a police and they cannot even do anything (I think they are in cahoots with the retailers). So, wala sya magawa.. he finally bought the unit at a higher price since the store owner will not return the money and the store owner will agree for a refund with cancellation fee of 10%.. so, just be careful. dont part with your money if you have not confirmed the unit and all the details yet. pay only if have checked everything and ready to part with your money. once you give them your money, its a different story already..

    good day to you all…

  25. romen says:

    Thanks for the warning. Well you could have also mentioned the shop’s name here or better yet post the picture of the shop and the tender.

  26. Jesse says:

    Had the same experience in Sim Lim, kaya pag balik ko ng SG hindi na ko dun titingin. Lowest price doesn’t mean the best deal.

  27. Axsyon says:

    Almost same experience. I was buying a portable charger. The vendor told me it cost SGD17 but when i was about to pay it was really sgd70! Siguro mali lang pagkakarinig ko but after reading the story above baka nga scam.

  28. SGee says:

    Rule of thumb in Sim Lim, the scammers are usually on the lower levels of the building. The higher you go up the building, the least likely you’d be scammed.

    I’d rather shop for electronics in HK. It’s cheaper because they don’t have GST. Even if the building would look shady like the one in Sham Shui Po, I never felt that anybody there would try to pull a scam on me.

  29. Name: says:

    Last September I went there. Sa Level 1 meron na silang pwesto (with computer) where you can report scams. Also may symbol ng star (sa entrance ng selected ) in sim lim square. Assurance daw ito ng quality service, trust and confidence. Personally even the “star” shops hindi ko pa rin natry.

  30. Dee says:

    Exactly the same thing happened to me when I bought my iP5 during the F1 week, same day the iP5 was released in SG. They should really do something about it hey. I’m surprise the government there isn’t doing anything about it. I had to argue, called my credit card company and threatened the store that I’ll call the authorities before they reversed the charge.

    • aids888 says:

      was it the shop on the first floor named mobile apps pte? my friend also bought an iphone5 during the f1 weekend for SGD1200, which was the lowest price we could find but after paying. he told us that it needed to be unlocked as well and made him sign an agreement. after 30mins, he gave us back the phone and charged my friend SGD 1600 (he bough 2 phones). We argued with the guy but he told us that the “unlock” has already been made and we signed the certificate so my friend was forced the pay him. that experience ruined our perfect f1 weekend

  31. Abiel says:

    a difference for 14k! mental note… SIM LIM!!!!

  32. Angelo says:

    Buy gadgets in the PH. Wait lang ng konti.

  33. meh says:

    Why are you buying from there instead of the apple store or online? No way i would buy from a retailer of course they will jack the price up

    The sad part is go to apple philippines website they are still only selling the ipad2 !!!!! What a joke, I don’t understand why the philippines is punished when it comes to technology, its like the country is not allowed to have modern tech

  34. EMILY says:


  35. banahaw says:

    its common now in sg i will assume its a PRC mainland china business man yan ang modus nila sa sg.they just get away kasi they look singaporean kaya feeling natin ok mag trust btw sg chinese businessman are still honest.Its those mainland chinese that are creating havoc all over asia.

  36. Rad says:

    It also happened to me and my friends. We also argued with that ‘unlocked’ charges for less than an hour. He want us also to pay for the reversal which is a bit odd. We yell that we’ll just report him to the authorities. He returned the money. Unfortunately,I can’t remember the store name..

  37. eric livelo says:

    yes Sim Lim is getting to be notorious. i was able to avoid that experience because i was with a singaporean.. electronics shopping is better in hk or macau, even in kl. and the prices are really almost the same per my experience.

  38. jpeb says:

    guidebooks have always warned against Sim Lim Square.

  39. TOO BAd . .
    tsk . tsk. tsk .

  40. Mon says:

    better talaga sa low yat plaza sa KL. prices not as low as in sim lim but at least they’re honest. they will show you the price sa calculator para malinaw and walang mga added charges. i remember we got a samsung galaxy S2 last year even before it officially came out sa south east asia and was quite happy with the price we got.

  41. Ramon says:

    Really irritating to see those kind of people that won’t even hesitate to cheat and lie just to get more money

    Dapat ipakulong na lng mga ganyan =/

  42. fuck singapore says:

    Singaporeans are shamefully inept in ridding their stores with this kind of criminality. You call that first world? Shame on you!

  43. andrew23 says:

    parang shops sa nathan road sa hong kong lang.. ang price sobrang baba then sasabihin wala ng stock tapos operan ka ng ibang gadgets na mas mahal.

  44. peejaytan says:

    This also happens in shops in hongkong, especially the camera shops

  45. cruizer says:

    Iwasan talaga dapat yang Sim Lim, lalo na yung shops sa 1st and 2nd floors.

    Mas OK pa sa Funan, though no guarantee na walang manggagantso dun. Sa Sim Lim common na yang ganyang modus operandi (swiping your credit card with a higher amount, charging for unnecessary/useless items/services), pati sa Lucky Plaza.

  46. Shaifullah says:

    @fuck Singapore

    So, you blamed Singaporeans for this? I am Singaporean. Instead of blaming Singaporeans for this, why don’t you do your research. We have always known Sim Lim as the last place you would go to shop for tech gadgets. Even my Singaporean friend got cheated when buying a PSP a few years ago. Just because of 1 bad apple, that does not mean we are all like that. There is always Funan the IT mall which is more reputable. Next time, do your research before you blame the whole country and its people. Stupid son of a bitch.

  47. Razi says:

    I am singaporean and feel sorry for tourists who got conned in Sim Lim which gives us a really bad name. Yes, every singaporeans know well sim lim is the place TO AVOID when buying gadgets. Most of us go there just to buy computer components (RAM, motherboard, graphic card etc) after made deep research on what we want to buy. and we NEVER BUY laptop, smartphone, camcoder, PS3, XBOX360 and DSLR from that place.

    Lesson learned.remember this quote ‘Apple gadgets are and will be always expensive’ so go to their official store next time. at least you wont get cheated.

  48. KC says:

    Tourist beware! I am a Singaporean and I never shop there myself. Many of the stores are linked to each other. Few operators owned few stores at Sim Lim. If they don’t get you at one store they will get you at another. I still don’t understand why tourists like to shop there despite so many scam incidents happened. You are better off at Funan Centre than Sim Lim.

  49. Andy Uy says:

    So sad to heared that incident. I also remember about “UNLOCK” this offer when I bought new ipod touch at Lucky Plaza, they offer me to unlock with the same reason, I just response them by saying “This unit is non-sim card device, never heard Lock and Unlock issue”, because of that they did not force me to unlock. That time also I didnt know there is fee for UNLOCK (Thanks GOD). But why their price always add GST in the end, when you wanna pay??? Why not just answer the customer the net price (Incl.GST)?????

  50. cruizer says:

    And if you are *not residing* in Singapore, you should ask for a GST rebate. They will issue you a slip. When you leave Singapore you can go to the GST refund counter and present the receipt, the rebate slip and the product and they’ll issue you the rebate.

    GST (goods and services tax) is 7%, similar to the 12% VAT we have in the Phils.

  51. JMS says:

    Yeah, don’t buy from Sim Lim anymore. Got scammed too with my iPad 3 with that “unlock” technique. Then to give me consolation, they gave me lots of accessories like the cover, screen protector, usb conenctor, stylus etc. I then went back the next day to get a refund because I told them they overcharged me. When we calculated the excess charges, it amounted to around 400 SGD. I asked him to refund that amount to me and then he went on to charging the “free” accessories he gave me amounting to 300+SGD. Hence, he will only give me back around 100 SGD.

    I even asked for help from the “anti-scam” police in charge that time to help me get my money back. HE DIDN’T HELP AT ALL. He just listened to our conversation and told me to just accept whatever the owner will give me. USELESS.

  52. nexusboy says:

    We buy their gadgets at higher price, no SMILE. we ask how much their gadgets and not buy because it’s overpriced, still no SMILE. they even get mad. those people over there are really stupid! they want our money, but they won’t just get it that easy. kala siguro nila saten walang alam. ano sila, sinuswerte? LOL!

  53. nexusboy says:

    to be fair with Singapore, Scammers are everywhere. we all just have to be cautious and do some research. we have scammers in our own backyard too. the point is, let this be a lesson to Filipino tourists. we have been acknowledged to be one of huge contributors of tourism economy in Singapore and Hong Kong. hating the whole singapore is unjustifiable. again, tell everyone to avoid SIM LIM, and enjoy the rest of Singapore to the fullest! ^__^

    • Charles Rivera says:

      I think you misunderstood the article. No one was saying anything negative about Singapore. It is the opposite idea in the article: we have come to accept and expect SG to be a place where honesty is the general norm, where one an leave a bag behind by mistake and no one will steal it.

  54. jcp27 says:

    These scams have been around way before you visited. I got a galaxy tab 7+, and the guy was talking to me in the worst possible “singlish” about this SG$54 fee for “activation”. He then presented a form and pointed out important points. It seems legit, so I handed my card. After 10 minutes of “activation”, he presented to us tge receipt, and the price shot up from SG$370 to SG$1080. Then, he pointed out that the SG$54 thing was MONTHLY!!! I didn’t want to argue because the guy would say s*** like, “it’s your f***ing responsibility to check the form.” I then found out that there is really no “activation” required!! That SG$700+ would all go to the owners. If you want to buy gadgets, go to HK (there’s a really nice sgore there whose owner gives big discounts if you’re a regular customer) or if you’re in SG, check out Courts along Orchard.

  55. femaad says:

    i guess the surprise and disappointment with the scams at sim lim is because we know singapore to be a city without corruption, a city with honest people. we trust that we won’t be gypped.

    in the philippines, we are aware that scammers abound, so we are on guard.

    sad, that this is allowed to persist, esp since tourists purposely go to singapore/sim lim to buy electronic gadgets.

    thanks for the warning!

  56. Welsh says:


    yes, there are a lot of scams at Sim Lim.

    My advise to you and to other shoppers at Sim Lim is look for stores that are Star Retailer members.

    They are the stores that has the “Star” logo of star retailer hanging inside their store.

    Star Retailers are known to have very good business ethics. But their prices are a little high. I guess higher prices are better than stores owners fooling their customers

    You can also inquire from the reception /or information booth of Sim Lim for the list of Star Retailer stores

    Thank you

    • Glenda says:

      I would like to up this post. :)
      My dad works in Singapore and this is what he told me. Look for the STAR logo :D

  57. Paolo says:

    The best way is not to buy a gadget when it’s still “hot”. They really tend to overprice due to the supply and demand effect.

  58. Lulu Sta Barbara says:

    We were also victims of the scammers at Sim Lim Square. We submitted a formal complaint to the Singapore Tourism Board unfortunately nothing was done. No investigation was initiated. Beware!!!!

  59. Rolly says:

    One tip also if you are planning to buy again to this kind of people in Singapore. Since I had worked in Singapore for 6 months one local taught me to ask for the “NET PRICE”. My friend that time shows it off to me when we buy a phone in Sim Lim. It is like a corncob put in their mouth for their aggressiveness in price changes. It is their word that lets you caught, so catch them also by your own words WenYong told me. LOL hindi nila alam mas magulang ang ibang pinoy LOL! Great site sir Abe,

  60. moi. says:

    Sim Lim Square is now infamous. Safer to shop at Funan IT Mall. Or else if you are in time for one of the 4 annual IT shows at Suntec City or Expo, buy from those. The prices you see are the prices you get. No problems with scammers.

  61. Dr. Joseph Cabantog says:

    Same thing happened to me a few days ago in Lucky Chinatown. Good thing I told them I did not have enough money.

  62. Red Estrada says:

    It is far worse that a friend of mine bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 from the infamous Filipino dwelling shop, the Lucky Plaza (E One Mobile Plus… to be exact) located beside McDonald’s on the basement floor.
    It was a real scam that he wasn’t able to get his money back but instead paid a whopping SGD1400 from the initial agreed price of SGD760 (the price of “unlocking” is almost SGD600!!!)
    He even called policemen to settle the issue but to his surprise, they just stood there and said that he should settle it alone with the seller because they reason out that their duty is just to avoid clashes… that somebody might get hurt. That’s pure stupidity of the police since Singapore is a shopping hub for most tourists, yet they witnessed face-face a huge scam and did nothing?!! Oh shit! This is really something that I never expected from them as I trust Singapore as one of the most honest nations. It will surely affects shopping tourism of this tiny island.
    At the end, my friend just paid and went home with a great feel of being cheated. A big lesson that surely be unforgettable to him.

    Personally, after this incident, I think of not buying any electronic gadget again from this place. One time for sure will be a pure regrettable depression.

  63. WH says:

    There are similar Scam tactics deployed by Bengs/Sengs (Salespersons who looks like crooks) in Chinatown when trying to purchase an IPad new for my bro in-law. There is “Activation Fee” from $80-$120, With or Without Warranty prices, GST “Unrefundable” prices too. So be a very careful and curious shopper in SLS or Chinatown. Always ask for the total costs, including Taxes and “hidden” fees for the item to be purchased.

  64. ... says:

    there is a reason why manufacturers put up stores in the malls, to avoid being scammed. moral of the story, dont buy one if cant afford one.

  65. Gavi says:

    Victims of SIM LIM Square ,Lets get together and push the police, the government, CASE , management of the shopping mall to take action!

    Pls contact me on [email protected]

    Lets teach these buggers a lesson not to cheat on innocent people.

  66. john says:

    i got scanned when i bought a fake apple phone for my friend or should i say my x friend. these people have no heart and yes there should be a complete investigation into the whole lot of them. they come at you with their sugar coated smiles, can i help you sir etc, but inside ready to rip you apart, singapore govt please take note. you should have like india tourist police who have powers to intervene in any such dispute. by the way one time i bought a fake watch in the same place and went directly to the singapore tourism main office. they phoned the guy up and suddenly he wants to give me a refund. ps now i just shop at mustafas, pay the price and take the item, end of story

  67. Deanna Tardio says:

    this is really their modus operandi. Other times they will convince you to buy another brand with add on features that will cost a lot. Even their screen protector is priced high to recover the low cost of the unit. Better in Funan ….Sim Lim is a big no-no for tourist. What keeps me surprised is that the SG government is not doing anything about it despite the numerous write ups and complaints. Even if you asked help from a police, they will only say that they have no knowledge of your agreement thus the police can do nothing :(

  68. Gene says:

    In short: Don’t use a credit card!

  69. aldz says:

    Rather than Sim Lim Square, go to Fu Nan Digital Center. Sim Lim Square is notorious for these scams.

  70. hmmmm... says:

    What if you ask to pay cash instead? Maybe I’m just used to preferring a cash transaction (to avoid debts). You can’t hand over 1000SGD if you agreed on only 400SGD. But sadly I guess this means you can’t really expect to return the item for any reason anymore, for warranty or otherwise.

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