Earlier on 21 April, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced the suspension of specialised stores and outlets retailing predominantly beverages, confectionaries, packages snacks and desserts, as well as F&B outlets, which took effect at 11.59pm on the same day.
Bubble tea shops were also expected to close, therefore, crowds and queues could be seen waiting for their final cup of indulgence before the extension of the circuit breaker. Seeing how bubble tea would not be available, many may feel like they had to make their own at home.
Yesterday (29 April), a Facebook user, Samantha Rachel, shared her experience of purchasing six packets of tapioca pearls from an online distributor, Acorn Distribution Pte Ltd.
In her Facebook post, she explained that she decided to buy the tapioca pearls to share with her friends and family so that their days spent at home would be a little more interesting. She described that each packet was 3.2kg, and due to a minimum purchase of S$120 imposed by the seller, she had to share her purchase with her friends.
That was about 20kg of tapioca pearls in total.
Upon receiving her items on 28 April, Ms Samantha was shocked that the expiry date printed on the tapioca pearl packaging was dated on 20 May 2020. She was devastated and annoyed to find out that all six packets will be expiring in less than a month upon arrival.
Knowing that she would not be able to finish the entire 20kg of tapioca pearls before the expiry date, she messaged the seller via WhatsApp to find out why the pearls she bought are expiring so soon.
After all, according to the screenshot uploaded by Ms Samantha, the seller stated that there would be six months of storage and shelf-life for the tapioca pearls. Once the packet is open, it is recommended by the seller to consume the pearls within the shelf-life.
In response to her queries, Acorn Distribution told her that their customers would usually consume the tapioca pearls within three days.
Ms Samantha said “it was crazy” how Acorn would think she could consume the pearls in three days as she purchased them for residential use.
In one of the screenshots of the exchange between them, Acorn Distribution claimed that they would not ask their customers the reason they purchase the items, adding that they would, however, make sure that their products are still safe to be consumed within the expiry date.
“Well we don’t consume the pearls within 3 days. It’s crazy how you think that. We are a residential unit buying your pearls. 3.2kg how to consume in 1 week?”
“We don’t ask customer their reason for buying the product, so long we make sure they are still edible to consume (within the expiry date).
They proceeded to reiterate that they do not sell expired or defected items. The merchant then shared their return policy to Ms Samatha, explaining that they have “a 1-to-1 exchange policy for breakage, defective and expired goods”.
Nonetheless, Ms Samantha felt that it was unreasonable to receive a food item that is expiring too soon. She also felt that the merchant did not want to own up to their alleged mishaps.
She refused to accept the seller’s explanation and told Acorn Distribution that she’ll be sharing this experience to expose them and warn people to avoid purchasing from them.
“Don’t have to continue sending me anything if you are unreasonable and don’t want to rectify your error. It is your website that states a 6 month shelf-life validity. Don’t push almost expiring products to me. I will be tagging every social media to expose you and to warn people not to purchase from companies like yours! Pathetic how you take advantage of us and the situation to dispose of your soon expired items.”
Focusing on how the seller claimed that there would be six months of shelf-life for the tapioca pearls, many commenters noted that Acorn Distribution was unscrupulous for selling Ms Samantha S$120 worth of near-expiring items.
However, one comment by Facebook user Mei Shan, who claimed to be a former bubble tea bartender, described that this type of tapioca pearl packaging is typically meant for bubble tea shops. In regards to the six-month shelf-life, she explained that the six months began from the day the pearls were packed in the factory.
She added that the pearls her shop received from the headquarters had a shelf-life of at most two to three weeks. What’s more, she also shared a similar experience in which her shop had received items that would expire in the next two days. Nonetheless, her supervisor told her that the stock can still be safely cooked even if it’s expired.
TOC has reached out to Acorn Distribution for their comment on this matter. Stay tuned for the updates.