Singapore Hotels A Consumer Manual
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SINGAPORE HOTELS: A CONSUMER’S MANUAL
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(A) INTRODUCTION

This Guide will show you what you can do and who you can turn to for help if you run into a problem with Hotel.

Hotels Licensing Board, HLB, (www.hlb.gov.sg) administers Hotels Act and Hotels Licensing Regulations.

If you run into problems with Travel Agents, please refer to Travel Related Users’ System (https://trust.yoursingapore.com). If you run into problems with Tourist Guides, please refer to Guides Online (https://guides-online.yoursingapore.com).



(A 1) USEFUL LINKS OF THE LEGISLATION:

Interpretation: “Licensee” means a licensed hotel under the legislation administered by Hotels Licensing Board (HLB).

Hotels:

Hotels Act: http://app.hlb.gov.sg/RESOURCES/Hotels_Act.aspx

and Hotels Licensing Regulations: http://app.hlb.gov.sg/RESOURCES/Hotels_Licensing_Regulations.aspx



(A 2) TWO PARTS TO THE MANUAL:

A 2.1: STEPS TO FOLLOW TO RESOLVE YOUR PROBLEM

Interpretation: “Licensee” means a licensed hotel under the legislation administered by Hotels Licensing Board (HLB).

The first part of the Manual shows you the steps to take to resolve your problem, and who you can approach for help. There are two easy steps to follow:

A 2.1.1: Resolving your problem with the licensee.

A 2.1.2: Reaching out for an independent dispute resolution.



A 2.1.1: RESOLVING YOUR PROBLEM WITH THE LICENSEE.

Q1: Why should I seek to resolve my problem with the licensee?

A: You should seek help on your problem with the licensee. All licensees are expected to deal with consumer problems and feedback fairly, promptly and consistently.

Q2: What should I do before I contact the licensee?

A: You should have a clear idea of what your concerns are and how you would like the licensee to address these concerns. Get your customer reference number, invoice number, and other supporting documents ready before you contact the licensee.

Q3: Who in the hotel should I contact?

A: Speak to the staff who attended to you. If you do not know the name of the staff, contact the licensed hotel’s Customer Helpline. In many instances, a simple phone call can resolve your problem. If this does not help, you can write in using an online form at http://www.yoursingapore.com/content/traveller/en/contact-us/contact/feedback.html.

Q4: What is the best way to contact the licensee?

A: There are various ways of contacting the licensed hotel:

  1. By telephone. This is good for problems that can be resolved easily or in cases where you are just asking for an explanation. Take notes of your conversation and note the name of the staff who attended to you.
  2. In person. This is applicable for problems that can be resolved easily as well as more complicated problems. Keep a record of what happened at the meeting and, if necessary, follow up with a letter to confirm what was said or agreed to at the meeting.
  3. By email. This method is fast and you can print a copy of your email for your own records. However, if you have many documents, you may find it hard to send them through email.
  4. By writing a letter. This is good if it concerns a problem that cannot be addressed simply through the telephone and you have many documents to attach. It is often the best way to resolve your problem since you would need to follow up a phone call or a meeting with a letter if your problem is serious enough.

Q5: What else should I take note of?

A: Here are some useful tips:

  1. Be clear about your problem.
  2. Take down the name of the person you spoke to, and the date and details of your conversation.
  3. Make photocopies of your documents before sending them to the licensed hotel and keep the originals.
  4. Keep records of emails and letters you have with the licensed hotel or anyone else you have contacted about your problem.
  5. Follow up with the licensed hotel if you do not get a response in 2-3 weeks. The Singapore Hotels Association (www.sha.org.sg) has codes of practice which set out the minimum response times for their members to handle consumer-related problems. In general, you should expect a reply from the licensee in 2-3 weeks. If your problem is complicated, it may take a longer time to resolve.


A 2.1.2: REACHING OUT FOR AN INDEPENDENT DISPUTE RESOLUTION

Q6: What are my options if I am unable to resolve the problem with the party that I have a contractual agreement with?

A:You can consider first approaching an independent dispute resolution party like the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) (www.case.org.sg). An independent dispute resolution aims to resolve problems that cannot be settled directly between you and the licensee. It provides you with a more affordable alternative to taking immediate legal action to resolve your dispute as you do not need to engage a lawyer to use such services.

CASE is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation that is committed towards protecting consumer’s interest through information and education, and promoting an environment of fair and ethical trade practices. One of their key achievements is in lobbying for Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA) which came into effect on March 1, 2004.

CASE can take on both local consumers’ and tourists’ complaints in relation to the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA). In addition, as it may not be feasible for tourists to be physically in Singapore to see through some of their dispute resolution, STB has worked out an arrangement with CASE for CASE to provide mediation on the behalf of tourists and represent them at the Small Claims Tribunals for redress. Tourists will still be able to provide feedback via the existing STB channels (hotline, website, email).

Q7: What type of problems can an independent dispute resolution body help me with?

A:Local Consumer/Tourist-to-business disputes

If you are a consumer and have a dispute with a retailer or vendor, you can go to the CASE office any time from Monday-Friday, 9 am to 4 pm. If you are unable to go to the CASE office, you can call us (Singapore Tourism Board) at 1800-736-2000, or lodge a complaint to HLB.

Business-to-business

CASE does not handle any business-to-business disputes.

For a list of the types of claims that Small Claims Tribunals has jurisdiction over, reference can be made to the checklist.

Q8: What information do I need to send to the independent dispute resolution body?

A:For CASE: http://www.case.org.sg/Lodge_a_Complaint.html

For SCT: http://app.subcourts.gov.sg/sct/page.aspx?pageid=4515

A nominal fee is applicable for a complaint that is lodged under CASE. For details, please refer to CASE website, alternatively, visit http://www.case.org.sg/lodge_a_complaint.html.

A lodgement fee is payable for a claim that is filed with the Small Claims Tribunal. For details, please visit http://app.subcourts.gov.sg/sct.

Q9: If my problem is still not resolved by an independent dispute resolution body, who else can I turn to for help?

A:The Small Claims Tribunals (‘SCT’) is part of the Subordinate Courts of Singapore. The SCT provides a quick and inexpensive forum for the resolution of small claims that fall within their jurisdiction. For a list of the types of claims that the SCT has jurisdiction over, reference can be made to the checklist.

The SCT is a part of the Subordinate Courts and their processes are tailored towards the effective resolution of disputes, initially by mediation, followed by adjudication if mediation is unsuccessful. A low lodgement fee is payable for a claim that is filed with the SCT, and no legal representation is permitted. Please visit www.smallclaims.gov.sg for more information on the processes and procedures.

If your claim falls outside the jurisdiction of the SCT, you can consider whether to commence a civil action in the High Court, District Court or Magistrates’ Court, depending on the quantum of your claim. Taking legal action in these courts should be the last resort as it can be a time-consuming and costly process. If you wish to engage a lawyer to take legal action on your behalf, the Law Society (www.lawsociety.org.sg) maintains a list of all the registered lawyers in Singapore. You can also seek the help of the Legal Aid Bureau (www.lab.gov.sg). However, you have to meet certain conditions before the Legal Aid Bureau will help you.

Before deciding to take legal action whether at the SCT or any of the Courts, you should also consider if the potential respondent/defendant has the means to satisfy any judgment or order that you may obtain.



A 2.2: WHEN YOU SHOULD REPORT A MATTER TO HLB

Interpretation: “Licensee” means a licensed hotel under the legislation administered by Hotels Licensing Board (HLB).

The second part of the Guide explains when you should report a hotel related matter to HLB and how you can do so.

As the hospitality regulator, the Board’s role is to ensure that licensees conduct their businesses in an appropriate manner and in accordance with the law. The Board is unable to resolve commercial disputes between you and the licensee, or order the licensee to pay compensation to you. We are, however, interested in matters that may raise issues of supervisory concern. These include violations of our rules and regulations, and breaches of other relevant codes of practice and guidelines.

HLB can...

  1. Investigate wrongdoings by licensee.
  2. Take regulatory action against licensee that has breached our Acts and regulations.

Our Acts and Regulations can be found on this site.

Hotels:

Hotels Act: http://app.hlb.gov.sg/RESOURCES/Hotels_Act.aspx

and
and Hotels Licensing Regulations: http://app.hlb.gov.sg/RESOURCES/Hotels_Licensing_Regulations.aspx

 


 

HLB cannot...

  1. Intervene in matters relating to service standards, commercial decisions such as pricing policies, contractual arrangements and civil disputes.
  2. Give legal advice or comment on cases that have been heard in court or are pending legal action.
  3. Order the licensee to compensate you.
  4. Disclose the outcome of any investigations or actions taken against individual licensee.

Q10: When should I inform the Board about my problem?

A:If you suspect that a licensee has committed any wrongdoing, you should report the matter to the Board. The information that you provide to the Board will enable us to take appropriate regulatory action against the licensee. Your feedback will also help us to monitor industry trends and alert us to problems in the hospitality industry. Matters which the Board would be concerned about include:

  1. Market misconduct issues such as the giving of inappropriate or misleading advice, misrepresentation or lack of disclosure by frontline service staff.
  2. Offences such as fraud, cheating, criminal breach of trust, forgery, fraudulent accounting or corruption by licensees.
  3. Persons engaging in a regulated activity without the proper licence or authorization. The list of licensees licensed or authorised by the Board is available on our website at:
    1. Hotels: http://www.hlb.gov.sg;

Q11: What information should I provide to the Board?

A:You should provide the following information to the Board:

  1. Your contact details.
  2. Name of the licensee and staff concerned.
  3. Details of your problem.
  4. Copies of relevant documents such as confirmation note, product brochures, the licensee's reply and other supporting documents.
  5. Written consent for the Board to forward your letter to the licensee (and other relevant third parties) for their response or further action, if appropriate.

Q12: Why must I give the Board written consent to forward my letter to the licensee before the Board can act on it?

A:All letters and documents that the Board receives from members of the public are confidential. It is therefore necessary for us to obtain your written consent before we release your letter to third parties for the purposes of following up on your letter.

Q13: What will the Board do with my letter?

A:The Board needs to understand the full background of your case before we know what action to take. This means getting an explanation from the licensee about the issues you have raised. If you have not already written to the licensee about your problem, where appropriate, we will send your letter to them for their comments. We would normally ask the licensee to reply directly to you on the issues you have raised, and copy the Board in their reply. The whole process usually takes 2-3 weeks. If your case is complex, it may take longer.

Q14: Can the Board tell me what action it has taken against the licensee or its staff?

A:For confidentiality reasons, the Board does not inform the public of its dealings with specific licensee. We are therefore unable to inform you of the outcome of any investigations or actions we have taken against a licensee or its staff. This is also the practice of other overseas regulators.

Q15: Can the Board order a licensee to pay compensation to me?

A:The Board does not have the power to order licensee to pay compensation to you. If you are seeking compensation, you should deal directly with the licensee concerned. Alternatively, you may approach trade association (Singapore Hotel Association) for advice.



(B) CONTACT LIST

 

Small Claims Tribunals (SCT)
Subordinate Courts Building
No 1 Havelock Square
Singapore 059724
Website: www.smallclaims.gov.sg
Operating hours can be found on their website.

 

 

Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE)
170 Ghim Moh Road
#05-01 Ulu Pandan Community Building
Singapore 279621
Tel: (65) 6100 0315
Fax: (65) 6467 9055
Website: www.case.org.sg/lodge_a_complaint.html

 

 

Hotels Licensing Board (HLB)
Secretary at Hotels Licensing Board
Tourism Court,
1 Orchard Spring Lane,
Singapore 247 729
Tel: (65) 6831 3484
Fax: (65) 6734 9035
Website: www.hlb.gov.sg
Email: [email protected]

 

 

Singapore Hotel Association (SHA)
17 Cantonment Road
Singapore 089740
Tel: (65) 6513 0233
Fax: (65) 6438 7170
Email: [email protected]

 

All information presented is accurate as of time of printing and may be subject to change. While all efforts have been made to ensure accurate information presented, Hotels Licensing Board (HLB). HLB bears no responsibility for the accuracy of information relating to other agencies.



 

Last reviewed/updated : 26 Sep 2016