[APPEAL FOR HELP]
RENOVATION HORROR STORY AHEAD
Dear friends, please help to share. I’m appealing for some kind of advice. Am currently being bullied into going to CASE / small claims court for a dispute over 1 simple cabinet fabrication (not yet even fabricated). The other party, Smartbox will not allow us to proceed with anything. This is causing me great trouble and delaying my family’s move-in date.
Frankly I’m so tired of negotiating with the salesperson Tristan & Smartbox and just wish to settle so they can quickly fabricate my wardrobe, but what happened today, 30th October, and on 26th October was the last straw for me. I’ve decided whatever the outcome, 钱是可以赚回来的. Even if I lose my deposit in CASE, I only hope to expose Smartbox’s unethical sales tactics which are not tolerable. I urge everyone to exercise caution when dealing with companies like Smartbox. I do not wish this horrible experience on anyone. 做生意讲究信誉, 你们这么做是把客户当白痴？
- [28 July 2020] Signed and paid initial deposit of $1,760 to Smartbox (subsidiary of Defu Furniture) at IMM showroom, for kitchen fabrication. Verbal agreement with Smartbox then was, even if we do not fabricate kitchen cabinets, we can use this deposit to fabricate room wardrobes. I placed the deposit then because I trusted their salesperson Tristan Ng, and wanted to lock in their post-circuit breaker promotion price which he said was ending soon. He was very polite before we signed anything. However, in ensuing conversations with Tristan, their factory was unable to produce my desired green Victorian design, and raised additional costs for a design close to Victorian, but not what I wanted.
- [6 September 2020] Over Whatsapp, informed Tristan that I’ve decided to go ahead with the Victorian kitchen fabrication by an interior design firm after approaching many kitchen contractors. Tristan agreed via voice message for our deposit to go into fabricating a room cabinet instead. Understandable that all home-owners want a design to their liking right? We agreed to further proceed with measurements at my unit for 1 cabinet, initially scheduled for 24th September, and installation on 15th October.
- [26 September 2020] When there was no follow-up, texted Tristan, apparently he forgot about the measurement date, told us instead to come down to his shop to select designs first. This was when he told us 1 cabinet fabrication will take about 4 weeks. 4 weeks! Really, is that the industry practice for fabricating one cabinet? I need advice. At this point I really regretted paying that initial deposit. He insisted we go down to IMM showroom before taking measurements.
- [3 October 2020] Texted Tristan to say it’s ok for him to just take measurements first. Please understand my whole family is working and juggling renovation works, we cannot come down to IMM so many times just for 1 cabinet. Why can’t some things be written black and white on Whatsapp? So then we scheduled measurements for 7 October over Whatsapp.
- [12 October 2020] Tristan texted to ask whether his guys have taken measurements. Yes, I reply it was already taken last Wednesday 7 Oct. No confirmation nor reply from him.
- [14 October 2020] Over Whatsapp he insisted his guys called us many times to check on design but we didn’t answer. I checked our phones – none of the numbers were in our missed-call list (please see screenshots). What kind of service is this?
- [18 October 2020] Over Whatsapp, I shared our desired design. He said OK, but later AGAIN insisted that the design cannot be confirmed over Whatsapp. His showroom colleague will need to confirm for us.
- [23 October 2020] Frankly, Smartbox already wasted a lot of our time since the delayed measurements. Design confirmation process was a pain. He kept insisting we need to go down even though we have no time, even when we’ve laid out the entire design for him. What’s the point of the catalog you sent, if black and white is not confirmation enough for you?
- [26 October 2020] PRECURSOR TO THE LAST STRAW: Went down to Smartbox at IMM wanting to confirm design, upon their insistence. Tristan took out our invoice again, quoted $1900 for a 5ft cabinet that we wanted, and said we need to hit the full amount $5660, stated in the invoice so 1 cabinet was not enough. What?! Honestly that was when I fully realized the scam. He then said that if we do not fulfil the full amount this was against the T&Cs. I would like to bring your attention to the T&Cs in my attached photos. Smartbox, do you even read your own T&Cs?
Please note we paid $1760 as deposit, and this was NOT a cancellation of order. Your salesperson agreed with the change from kitchen cabinets to wardrobe, and NONE of the fabrication has even started for anything. None of Smartbox’s T&Cs stated that we need to PAY for the changes made to our order, especially since fabrication has not even started.
T&Cs stated that deposit is not refundable, which is why we even dragged ourselves to that IMM store to negotiate with Tristan on how to proceed so we can utilize the deposit.
Upon hearing this at IMM showroom my partner told him 这根本是在敲 (as in敲诈). Tristan took the opportunity to imply that my partner was scolding a vulgarity relating to a male reproductive organ. He wanted my partner to repeat himself in front of a video camera at IMM showroom. Might I also add that the camera recorded Tristan encouraging us to go to CASE, and threatening to say that Smartbox have won similar cases before? Perhaps they can bring up that footage, because I want to revisit the threatening gestures that Tristan was displaying to us, while we were seated. So as he suggested, the only way to settle was to go to CASE.
- I left a genuinely disappointed review on Smartbox that day.
- After Tristan and his boss saw my bad review on Smartbox, he texted my partner to ask him to come down, saying he has a solution for us (please see photos)
- [31 October 2020] THE LAST STRAW: Went down to meet Tristan again. He retrieved our invoice again. So he has consulted his Smartbox boss, and the only solution for us to settle this case and fabricate our 5ft cabinet was to pay:
- $1900 – for fabrication of 5ft cabinet
- + $350 – to top up to cover up the cabinet to full ceiling height
- + $370.30 – GST for initial total price of $5660
- + $283.00 – 5% of subtotal $5290 that Smartbox needs to pay to Capitamall for every sales invoice
GRAND TOTAL $2884.80 for a 5ft cabinet.
- PLEASE, DOES THIS MAKE ANY SENSE?
- Firstly, does Capitamall charge their tenants 5% of EVERY SALES INVOICE? So if I purchase a toilet bowl from Hoe Kee, Capitamall takes 5% from Hoe Kee?
And secondly, does Smartbox have the right to charge this 5% to me?
Right now, Tristan does not even want to acknowledge what he said in the store (please see my screenshots).
Might I also add that Tristan repeatedly mentioned his commission was barely 2% or about $200 per order. That only his boss can make decisions, but his boss is not there. So clearly they are not interested in settling with us privately over such small matter. To him, this small sum clearly is a joke, and he’s not been helpful at all in providing a decent solution.
So I’m glad I did not trust my kitchen fabrication to Smartbox. $2884.80 may not be a huge sum, but it’s still hard-earned money. I hope they stop scamming others out there especially during this tough COVID-19 period, and also own up to their scare tactics.
I also realized that they wanted me to go down to their IMM Showroom just so that they can threaten me with their T&Cs face-to-face, and not leave anything in black-and-white.
- In conclusion: We will definitely log a CASE complaint for their help.
- Thanks for reading this incredibly lengthy post.