The Durian Festival organised by the Sengkang Community Club and endorsed by MP Teo Ser Luck took a sour turn on Sunday (29th July) as they realised they didn’t have enough durians for the amount of tickets that were sold.
According to the promotion posters, one S$5 ticket would entitle the ticket holder to 2 delicious durians – however, after a few hours of seeming success, the long queue came to a standstill as the organisers realised they were running out of durians.
At about 3pm, the organisers announced to the crowd that an express lane would be created for pregnant women and older people in line. However, based on the comments on Mr Teo’s FB page written by irate ticket-holders, the ‘express lane’ was really just another queue which then turned into three queues that were equally slow-moving.
Hellen Sutiono commented: “Best part is they said will have express lane at 3pm. Now almost 3 already we have 3 queues! What happen with those already wait so long in the first queue.”
Some even commented on the size of the durians that were being distributed later in the day, noting that they were ‘super duper small’ that they’d fit in the palm of your hand and cost S$0.50 to S$1 elsewhere.
One of the participants wrote: “This type of durians. In JB they are giving as free…. ? Like that still charge the Singaporean $5?? Imagine 6000 tickets sell at $5.. Wow. This case must be investigate why they still sell to us???”
Jason Cheng said: “We bought $5 per ticket. But now taking 50cent small durian!!!!!!!!!!!”
Nellie Lim said: “We were given tiny/sourish durians and not allowed to exchange. With ill-treatment from a gang of volunteers who threw things onto the ground and made us pick up durians without stem w bare hands. What’s the compensation for such humiliation for supporting community events?”
Soon, people started noticing that the organisers were opening up the durians, packing the flesh into boxes, and distributing those instead. So instead of receiving whole durians, people instead found themselves waiting in line for hours only to receive small packages of durians.
Simon Cheng said: Not enough whole durians to distribute 2 durians per tickets. Now open the durians and pack it into boxes…. That’s cheating.
Tina Tan said: “Ultimate failure!! Queued for 3.5hrs for nothing. And no enough cash to do refund! Have to go home sweaty, pissed off and empty handed.
Pls do not organize such event and named it ‘Singapore largest durian festival’ if you cannot keep up with the demand.
Foo Soo Jun said: “Bad organizing. Stand in the queue for 4 hours plus only to be told no more durians. Why didn’t you all count the number of people queuing and advise earlier if there wasn’t enough durians so that we don’t waste our time? Worst thing is still selling ticket in the morning -.- What’s the solution now? No news at all.”
Ada AC said: Very bad.. Now become per tic 2boxes. How do I know is 2 durians in 2boxes. Last year was a good experience but this year sucks. Waited 3hrs and still waiting. Packing in boxed takes even more time. Poor organisation!
Some also voiced out against the quality of the durians given, with some being rotten.
Not only that, one person even noted seeing a lorry filled with large durians leaving halfway through the event – which raised the question if those durians were being hauled off for some other event somewhere else?
Some individuals at the event also noted that the organisers were helping themselves to the durians. René Yap said: “The worst thing I saw when I went up to the counter was this middle-aged man in the red organiser shirt eating the durians!! He was licking his fingers and looking very smug. Super angry.”, she further added, “It was just inappropriate for the organiser to be eating while hundreds, young and old, were queuing in the humid tent.”
Ticket holders who were unfortunate enough to not receive even a box of durians were then also asked to head into another long queue to get a refund at the venue. And even that didn’t work well as the organisers ran out of cash to refund everyone.
Following the community outcry, the Sengkang Community Club offered ticket holders a refund of the cost of their tickets and guaranteed them that they could use those tickets to claim complimentary durians from the vendor, Durian 36. However, they also included a disclaimer at the end of their apology that the durian season is ending soon, implying that your chances of claiming your complimentary durians are slim.
MP Teo Ser Luck has yet to respond to any of the comments on his Facebook page nor has he made any public statement on the matter.
There has also been no indication on the part of the organisers if the vendors will be held responsible for not providing enough durians for the festival. Both vendor and organisers must have known how many tickets they sold and therefore how many durians they should prepare. Someone clearly dropped the ball and it would seem that the organisers continued to sell ticket even though they knew there wouldn’t be enough durians.