SINGAPORE — A hawker store in Ang Mo Kio Hawker Center faced a challenging situation when a customer demanded extra bowls and spoons.
The incident was said to have occurred on Friday and was shared on the Facebook group, Hawkers United – Dabao 2020, which was created during the pandemic lockdown in 2020 to support hawkers in Singapore.
The original post was made by the nephew of the hawker store, who recounted the experience as described by an assistant at the store.
The nephew shared that most of their customers are regulars and very nice people, but unfortunately, they do encounter difficult situations with some customers.
In this particular incident, a lady customer purchased two bowls of dessert for $3.60 and asked for an empty bowl, which the auntie provided, along with disposable spoons.
Later, another person from the same group came and requested four more bowls, which the hawker refused due to limited availability for the day.
The assistant offered take-away bowls at $0.20 each if they needed more. However, this led to a heated argument, and the group started shaming the assistant and threatening to make the hawker store “famous.”
The nephew explained that the limited storage space and low prices — an average selling price of $1.80, make it difficult for them to provide extra bowls and utensils.
He also shared that they can only wash bowls after closing time, and if all the bowls are used up, they have to provide take-away containers, which cuts into their profits.
“Please when making request, for extra chopsticks, chili, bowl, sauces plate etc, please take what you need and request only what is reasonable ….. please, for $3.60 and ask for extra 5 bowl will mean we need to wash 7 bowl for $3.60 and all the bullying we may encounter when we refuse is really depressing, ” wrote the nephew.
Melvin Chew, the admin of the Facebook group, expressed his sympathy for the hawker and stated that customers should not abuse social media against hawkers.
He wrote, “Hawker like me myself been through this so many times, it’s like an entitlement for this type of consumers. When we said NO, it’s become hated and we can see negative posting in social media. I can feel that, and I believe a lot of my fellow hawkers too. Good and understanding customers will always be appreciated by us.”
Colin, another hawker, shared his experience of giving away extra plastic containers in the past, but he has stopped doing so after a family of six requested five more empty bowls when they only ordered one bowl of dessert. He wrote, “It sucks to encounter such unreasonable customers. Some are just nasty!”
Several commenters supported the hawker and stated that customers should only get what’s on the menu and not make unreasonable requests that demean the hawker’s business.
Ivan Lee commented, “I don’t think any explanation should be needed. When a customer buys something on the menu, he/she should only get what’s on the dish itself. Anything else besides the dish is extra cost extra charges. People had been spoilt for ages, and now things will change moving forward whether they like it or not.”
Symon Styrom, who has worked in customer service, expressed his frustration at the increasing acceptance of violence and improper behaviors in society.
He wrote, “Why do we allow tolerance to such improper behaviors at all to begin with? Sg is so famous to concoct rules then why not for these kinds of people, regardless be it customers or hawkers/restaurant or anybody to begin with!”
Lim Weijian suggested that hawkers could put up a notice stating that they do not provide extra bowls and sell takeaway containers as bowls to avoid such situations in the future. He said, “Make a big issue, just call the police, public nuisance better if there’s CCTV.”