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Is SISTIC providing service or profiteering?

新三块钱国币 (New three dollar)

English translation below.

邹文森

讨厌Sistic的人,请举手。(然后读下去)

很久以前,看过丁西林编写的戏剧小品《三块钱国币》,剧中女仆打破主人的花瓶,被迫赔偿三块钱国币。没钱,闹到警局,鸡犬不宁。这三块钱可了不起,当时差点逼死一个女人。

时代变了,物价上涨,货币贬值。三块钱在今天,算什么?吃一盘云吞面,喝三瓶矿泉水,看半部电影,搭地铁到乌节路来回,还一天的电费。诶,以为不算什么,其实还挺好用嘛。

近日回新加坡,恰逢新加坡戏剧节的演出,一口气帮朋友买了一出戏三张票。票价之高,令我咋舌,仔细一看,其中竟有九块钱是服务费,一张三块钱。

我唯一可以想到的直接成本就是票纸,但是一张10厘米*3厘米的细纸价值多少,不需我赘述。最近石油价格高昂,很多人起价都怪能源价格,如果是印票所耗电力高,那也太勉强了。

我傻,服务费,顾名思义,直接成本一定是得过两届新加坡优秀服务奖的典范服务。我努力观察每一位柜台小姐,是啦,笑得非常灿烂,但你笑得再灿烂,服务再快速,也不值我的一盘云吞面可口实在。

我上网买票,不用你的服务,不需还服务费吧?错,我不单要付钱,还要每张票附加额外的两毛钱,称之为取票费。所以三块钱是网络服务吗?是占用频宽的费用吗?两毛钱又是赔偿耽误柜台小姐印票的时间吗?

我朋友说是售后服务,遗失戏票可以追查。我仔细一查,每一张补票需要额外五块钱的行政费。

无论是网络还是柜台,同一出戏,买一张票和买三张票所消费的“服务”并没有差别。如果我作为顾客所消耗商家所付出的时间、精力、电力、频宽都一样,那么你凭什么收取不一样的价格?

本地每一个接洽Sistic为票务的团体,其实都需要付给一次性不菲的雇聘服务费用。这些钱涵盖了Sistic所提供的服务,宣传服务(简单地放在自己网上)和技术服务(电脑管理系统追踪票房高低)。据说除此之外,还要征收每张售票的佣金。为什么都已经向团体收取了如此高额的费用后,还需要向观众收取“服务费”呢?为什么团体所付的费用,不能承担观众的服务费?

除非,那根本不是服务费,而是利润。一场满座的戏剧表演(少过十场),大大小小所有收益,数目绝对可观,利润多少,不得而知。既然又是三块,又是两毛,又是五块,什么都讲钱,何必假以服务之名,掩人耳目。

笔者不能够接受,为何我们在付出超过30块钱,观赏艺术团体用汗水、感情和财力辛勤耕耘的产物时,尽然要让旁人从中剥削。

如果不是利润而真的是成本,那么Sistic更应该检讨自己内部的成本控制和经济效益。当然,市场的垄断,可以保证成本无论如何膨胀,都必然有人光顾。但Sistic由体育理事会和滨海艺术中心共同拥有,虽然是私人企业,依然带有一定的官方色彩,为何不顾及大众民生。

与其他城市相比,为什么生活水平比我们高的香港,服务费却比我们少?为什么台北和上海不需要服务费?

Sistic解释三块钱的服务费到底是补偿什么服务?是纸、电力、柜台、网络、售后还是其它?请问从之前的两块涨到现在的三块,我们得到了什么更多的服务?请问Sistic有没有想过在物价高涨的今天调低服务费?

我家里真的没有多少花瓶可以典当。

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English version translated by Teng Jing Wei:

 

New “Three Dollars”

Cheow Boon Seng

Those who detest Sistic, please raise your hand. (And continue reading.)

A long time ago, I saw the play “Three Dollars” by Ding Xi Ling. A servant woman in the play had to pay three dollars as compensation for breaking her master’s vase. Because the servant woman was penniless, the case was brought up to the authorities, and it created a commotion. Those formidable three dollars nearly drove a woman to her death.

Times have changed; inflation has set in. What can three dollars buy nowadays? A bowl of wanton mee, three bottles of mineral water, half a movie,  a return trip onboard the MRT to Orchard, and a day’s worth of electricity. Not much, but I guess three dollars is still something.

$3 service charge

Recently I came back to Singapore just in time for the theatre festival, and bought three tickets at a go for my friend. The high price of my purchase left me dumbfounded. Upon closer inspection, I realised $9 went to service charge - $3 per ticket.

The only “cost” of a ticket I could immediately think of was the paper it was printed on; yet, surely I do not need to elaborate on the “cost” of a 10cm by 3cm piece of paper. Increased costs have been attributed to soaring oil prices of late, but it would be ridiculous to use this reason to justify the increased cost of printing a ticket.

Then, perhaps, service charge can be attributed to Sistic’s two time award winning service. After much scrutiny, I found out: yes, the girls at Sistic’s counters do have dazzling smiles, but dazzling smiles and efficient services still cannot compare to a practical bowl of wanton soup.

If I buy my tickets online, I do not require any service, so I do not need to pay service charge, right? Wrong; not only do I have to pay service charge, I have to pay an extra 20cents, known as “ticket collection fee”. So is the $3 “internet service charge” for occupying Sistic’s bandwidth? Is 20cents the price for holding up a counter girl’s time?

My friend says 20cents may the price of “post-purchase service”, in case of lost of ticket. I did my research: a replacement ticket cost an extra $5 in administration fees.

Be it internet or over the counter, the service charge for one ticket, or three, to the same production, does not vary. If I, the consumer, spend as much time, energy, electricity and bandwidth as the producer, what gives the producer the right to impose a service charge?

In fact every organisation in Singapore that engages Sistic’s ticketing services has to pay an exorbitant, one-time “engagement fee”. This fee covers Sistic services such as publicity (basic web space on Sistic website) and technical support (tracking statistics of sale of tickets). Besides this fee, organisations also have to pay Sistic a token sum from their sales tickets. Why does Sistic still charge consumers a service fee when organisations pay a sky high price for engaging its services? Does whatever the organisation pay not cover the costs of consumer service?

Service or profiteering?

Unless, “service charge” is just a euphemism for “profiteering”. We may know the number of audience to a popular production (less than 10 full house shows), but we may never find out the profits. Sistic is allowed to arbitrarily charge $3 or 20cents or $5, since everything seems to be about money, why bother lying and calling it “service charge”?

I cannot accept the fact that we are being exploited as we fork out more than $30 to watch a production that is the result of an artistic troupe’s sweat, feelings and sheer hard work.

If the fees are truly not profits, but costs, then Sistic should question its internal operations’ cost management and its financial efficiency. Of course, in a monopoly, no matter how much costs increase, consumers are guaranteed. However, Sistic is jointly owned by the Singapore Sports Council and Esplanade Theatres – although essentially privatised but there must remain certain governmental influences – so why does it not show more consideration for the public?

In comparison to other cities: Hong Kong may have a higher living standard but the service charge there is less than what we have in Singapore. In Taipei and Shanghai, it is not even the norm to impose a service charge on consumers.

Can Sistic please explain what the $3 is charged for? Is it the price of paper, electricity, over the counter services, internet, post-purchase services, or something else? Why is it that the previously $2 service charge has increased to $3, are we receiving more service? Has Sistic thought about lowering its service charge in today’s context of rising inflation?

I really do not have many vases to pawn in my house.

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