Ripped off in Singapore (again) beware of shopping in Sim Lim  Return to Singapore

sim lim computer shopping exterior sim lim computer shopping interior This is the tale of a tourist who knows and loves Singapore well and has visited many times from England on stopovers to Thailand and Australia. There is a massive computer shopping center on 6 floors called Sim Lim. It is packed with the very latest cameras, computers and hifi equipment. It is also staffed by some of the nastiest conmen you will find anywhere. This poor punter has been caught out 3 times over the years and would not wish the same experience on others. First he purchased a faulty laptop computer for S$3700 from AAAs Com Solution, which was extensively repaired under warranty, then he purchased a digital camera valued at US$150 for S$1000 (with extras) on the ground floor. This time he purchased faulty parts to make a new desktop computer for S$1000 from TNK technologies.

escalators and lifts to all floors screen from a faulty computer from Sim Lim In between he made many small purchases with mixed results. Once he purchased an external hard drive casing for S$120 from Notebooks Direct on the verbal understanding that if it was not suitable it could be returned. On unpacking the item in the hotel room it was clearly old and obsolete and would not support drives with a capacity greater than 8GB. The next day the manager of the shop refused a refund and instead set his kids to prove that it would support a larger drive like 20GB. (It will but you cannot fill it over 8GB). The punter than went to the government tourist office where a very charming lady listened to his story and promised to contact the shop. After several months and many emails the situation remained the same. No refund was available. It would be possible to sue in the small claims court but that takes time.... And so they got away with it. They usually do.

Other incidents included purchasing a 6GB hard disk which was only 4GB from AAAs Com Solution. It was of course replaced. The appearance was very similar. They do not reckon that the purchaser will format the drive back in a hotel room on a laptop. There is always a chance that the disk will leave Singapore before the fraud is discovered.

The question is whether the Singapore government really cares anymore. Shopping in Singapore used to be a great experience with many bargains to be had. But now prices are high but the availability is good. Everybody knows to be careful but still it happens. The authorities have cracked down on the sale of pirated software in Sim Lim. There used to be many shops that would sell you a virus or two but now there are none.

There are some legitimate businesses in Sim Lim. One of them is Taknet systems on the 6th (top) floor.(recommended). Camera shop #01/84 on the ground floor is supposed to be good. Avoid the other camera shops.

Purchases from TNK Technology on April 16th/17th 2003
TNK Technology,
1 Rochor canal Road,
#05-56 Sim Lim Square,
Singapore 188504
Tel: +65-6333-0323

Inv no.DateDescription QtyPriceGST GrossNote CommentThai
1246416-04-2003Intel D845GEBV2 Motherboard1 182.707.311901 Faulty extreme graphics4750
1249217-04-2003Intel 2.4B Box CPU1 288.4611.543002 working7500
1249217-04-2003Spectek 512MB PC333 DDR RAM1 115.394.611203 Supplied PC2663000
1249417-04-2003Samsung 48X24X48 CDRW & DVD1 124.044.961304 Faulty tray - repaired3250
1249417-04-2003Panasonic 1.44 FDD1 13.460.54145 Noisy, bus biting, scrapped350
1249417-04-2003Prolink Ethernet Card1 13.460.54146 Old and obsolete, scrapped350
1249417-04-2003INNO3D GF4 MX440 128MB DDR1 107.704.301127 Faulty graphics2800
1249417-04-2003400W Power Supply1 33.651.35358 Not working875
1249417-04-2003evercool fan2 17.311.38369 Wrong connectors, scrapped900
no inv17-04-2003Maxtor Hard Drive 40GB1 38.401.604010 Stopped after 2 days1000
no inv17-04-2003SMC 56k internal Modem1 13.460.541411 Old with faulty driver350


1. The history of this motherboard is interesting. The salesman sold it to me off a sales list and then asked me to wait 5 minutes while he went away. The customer was unwilling to wait and so accompanied the salesman to the shop next door, Video Pro. There, a salesman from Video Pro produced a hand written log book, which the first salesman was asked to sign, whereupon a boxed motherboard was delivered to him. It was noticed that the box was unsealed. It seems likely that this was a faulty one which TNK had already taken out before, which they had returned and which was just waiting to be sold to an unsuspecting punter. The extreme graphics on the Intel motherboard caused a series of vertical lines to appear across the screen. After many emails to Intel and the installation of new drivers and a new flash for the BIOS the problem did not go away. At the expense of Intel under warranty the board was sent to Penang in Malaysia by DHL for repair. It was returned by DHL. It has not yet been tested. It has now been built into a new machine and works very well. All thanks and praise to Intel. This Intel motherboard had a fundamental weakness. There is a 12 volt wire which supplies the cpu. It is a small 4 way plug. If this is left unconnected, which is easy to do since it restricts access to much of the board and tends to get disconnected to enable access, either the board or the cpu or the power supply will fail. The motherboard failed. End of motherboard.

2. The cpu chip and cooling fan appear to be working. Possibly because on first use the heat sink pad causes a sticky black deposit on the top of the chip thus marking it as used. It would be difficult to supply a used chip. Wrong again. A new chip should be supplied in a box with a heat sink and fan and the box should be wrapped in cellophane. The cellophane was missing. The top of a new chip is shiny. This top of this chip was dull. It had been tried in a machine and rejected like every thing else. The faulty Pentium 4 2.4GHZ was replaced with a Pentium 4 Celerion 1.8GHZ and everything went much faster. In particular the mouse clicking was more reliable. One more component to be returned to Intel under warranty. In fact the faulty cpu was replaced under warranty by Kenny Ng of Taknet Systems. Thank you Kenny. There is one place where you will not be cheated. They are on the 6th floor. That replacement cpu now works great.

3. Although the invoice states and the CPU prefers a DDR PCC333 memory chip the supplied chip was a DDR PCC266. After complaining the next day this was exchanged for a DDR PCC333 memory chip from Kingston. A charge of S$5 was not extorted owing to the belligerence of the customer. It appears to be working.

4. Samsung are an excellent make of combo drive. This one worked normally for a time and then decided to shatter a CD it was reading. The disk jumped out of the tray with a loud bang and broke into many pieces. This combo drive was repaired in Thailand by a computer shop and now works well. The warranty is now of course void. Wrong again. The drive had to be replaced since it slowed up the machine and had a tendency to slave with the mouse. Each mouse click caused a crunching noise from the drive.

5. This floppy drive is very noisy but can read and write. It also has faulty electronics and hangs the system bus so causing all disk accesses to be slow. It has been replaced.

6. The Prolink Ethernet card was supplied without its driver, the program which makes it work. A floppy disk was supplied on the next day. This card is very old and supports Windows 95 and Windows 3.1. Despite many tries it has not been possible to make it work. It was replaced.

7. This graphics card displayed the same fault as the motherboard. There were a series of vertical bars across the screen. It is possible that both ports had been connected to the same faulty monitor at some time. It has been replaced. The original is still under warranty and there is a shop on the 6th floor who have offered to replace the card under warranty. This involves yet another trip to Sim Lim Singapore. Chris Chung of Inno3d on the sixth floor had great difficulty in finding such an old obsolete video card. The one that they did find was also faulty in the same way. It may have even been the same card. Finally the replacement card was sent to Inno3d in Hong Kong who supplied a working example.

8. The power supply gave no output at all. A replacement power supply was given on the next day. Also given was a patronising lecture on how to start a system on the table using a screwdriver. Since the motherboard was plugged into a video monitor it was necessary to switch it off quickly before the customer could notice the faulty video output. All of the output voltages were found to be low. It was thought prudent to replace it.

9. The evercool fans were special quiet fans. They came with the wrong connectors and so could not be connected to the motherboard. They were replaced.

10. The Maxtor 40GB hard disk was always slow to respond and after 2 days stopped working. Maxtor agreed to replace the disk if it was shipped by DHL to Penang Malaysia at the customer's expense.. They would then ship back a replacement disk at their expense. Since the shipment cost was nearly the cost of a new disk, the disk was sent by parcel mail to Penang Malaysia. It has never been seen or heard of since. Finally after many months a replacement did arrive and it appeared to work well. In fact it was a faulty one that had been repaired. It works but disk access is very slow. It will be replaced.

11. The SMC 56k Internal Modem is a peculiar card. The supplier has agreed that the Windows 98 driver does not work. It did not work with Windows XP either using the Windows XP driver. It was decided to replace the modem. Unfortunately it did not get trashed and turned up in another machine, where, after one year, it stopped working altogether. It was replaced with an new modem and it was noticed that the machine responded much faster.

General Notes about purchases from TNK Technology on April 16th/17th 2003

None of this technical analysis reflects the amount of time and work that has been necessary to determine the status of the parts. Of course when buying computer parts there is always a risk that some of them will turn out to be faulty and so can be replaced under warranty. The problem with warranty is that the customer is unlikely to be given a new component but only a faulty one other customer has returned and which has been repaired. But the odds are against every single component save one being faulty unless it was done deliberately. There is also the jibe that you are "do it yourself" and so must expect problems since you are not a professional. The author is a qualified electronics technician. It is my belief that I was knowingly sold obsolete and faulty computer parts since I would be taking them out of Singapore and so it would be difficult for me to return them to the shop. I also know that this shop is associated with Video Pro which has a reputation for this kind of thing and has even threatened to sue it's customers.

TNK Technology have a small shop next to Video Pro on the 5th floor. Their business is the sale of computer systems, which they assemble on the premises, and the sale of digital flat screen monitors. The manager is a man called Francis, who also assembles the computers. There is a rotating cast of sales people who work out front. They have a working arrangement with Video Pro next door who carry most of the stock. It seems likely that most of the components which they sell are components, which have been rejected from the assembly process and should be returned to the supplier. It is known that there is a gray stream of computer supplies to some of the shops in Sim Lim and it is difficult to know the origin of some of the components. While they are all genuine parts it is possible that some of them cannot be returned for some reason. It was noticeable that most of the boxes were already opened and that some of the extras were missing (drivers and cables).

The moral of the story is never buy anything from Sim Lim in Singapore. Save you money and visit Thailand. There in Panthip Plaza in Bangkok there is a similar computer shopping mall. Prices are similar or cheaper. The products are more up to date and the author has yet to get cheated. The author has yet to return a faulty product, although the shop keepers are happy to do so. The foreign buyer is less likely to be dumped with the faulty returns from under the counter. One of the good shops is Com7 who display their falling prices on their web site. There is also a Thai web site for all of the shops in the mall.

Other web sites about Sim Lim Singapore  - another disgruntled customer  - the small claims tribunal of Singapore - is it really worth it? - video pro website  - places you must visit in Singapore

It is not that people get ripped off. That can happen anywhere. It is the culture that seems to nourish such behaviour and which pays only lip service to enforcement. It is not only tourists who get treated in this way. Local people complain also.

Page updated on August 13th. 2011.   home   Return to Singapore    You are visitor number  number of hits