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A woman bought ikan bilis from a FairPrice Finest outlet in Bedok Mall that turned out to be mouldy and was surprised to learn she was not allowed to exchange it or get a refund at other FairPrice outlets.
FairPrice told Stomp that the policy is in place because not all outlets carry the same products.
Stomper Patricia recounted: "I bought a packet of dried ikan bilis from FairPrice Finest at Bedok Mall on Tuesday night (March 28) after my exercise class.
"The following day when I opened the packet to prepare for dinner, I realised the dried ikan bilis was mouldy. I checked the whole packet and realised that it was not safe to consume.
"The next morning, I brought it to a FairPrice outlet in Marine Parade to exchange it since I was around the area.
"I was told that they were not able to do the exchange, the reason being they did not carry that brand of dried ikan bilis. They said I have to go back to Bedok Mall where I bought it to do the exchange. I asked for a refund or other options since I was already there, but they said they were not able to do it and kept telling me to go back to the store where I bought it from.
"I tried again at the Parkway Parade store since it was within walking distance. This time, they allowed me to do the exchange but then realised that they also did not carry that brand and I was told again to go back to Bedok Mall to do the exchange. I asked them for options, but they said again they could not do it. I gave up.
"I genuinely think that if that particular store does not carry that brand, why can't FairPrice offer the convenience for customers to exchange for other brands or do a refund when all stores are under the same company? Why restrict customers to going back to the store where he or she bought the item to resolve the issue? Isn't FairPrice with so many stores islandwide supposed to bring convenience to its customers?
"This incident gives me the impression that all NTUC stores do not operate under the same company."
In response to a Stomp query, a FairPrice Group spokesman said: "Our exchange and refund policy states that customers can return products that are of an unsatisfactory quality to the same store where it was purchased, along with the receipt, for either an exchange or refund.
"This policy is in place because not all stores carry similar products, which may explain the case the customer encountered.
"We apologise for any inconvenience caused to the customer and acknowledge the feedback provided. We are constantly looking at ways to improve our services and will look to extend the convenience of our network to our customers."