Sunday 2 November 2014

They're sorry, I'm sorry, everybody's sorry – except Starbucks

He made a “serious mistake”.

The tennis event was in Singapore, but WTA singles final commentator Kevin Skinner said “China” when he signed off last Sunday.

Even Hossan Leong was mad. I can imagine his spindly Leong arms waving around in anger.

Skinner apologised on Twitter the following day for putting that image in my head.

That was just one apology in a month full of apologies. October was a sorry month.

Halloween is over, but for a few companies, nothing was scarier than a disgruntled customer with a Facebook account.

On Oct 12, a woman posted on the Pizza Hut page a photo of a Pizza Hut receipt with the words “Pink fat lady” scrawled on it, complaining: “I don’t think it is nice for your staff to describe me as such on my receipt.”

This rocked the restaurant chain in its seat.

How do I know? Because Pizza Hut replied to the woman’s post: “This definitely rocked us in our seats” and apologised profusely.

But the woman didn’t help her case by adding another comment: “Just feel insulted. What’s wrong with being plus-size?”

Wait, did anyone say there was anything wrong with being plus-size?

I understand that calling someone “fat” is rude, but if the woman claims there’s nothing wrong with being plus-size, then why should she feel insulted?

Would she feel less insulted if the receipt had said, “Pink plus-size lady”?

Quick to recognise a promotional opportunity that aligned with its “real beauty” branding, toiletries company Dove created a graphic a few days later with the words, “I’m the pink fat lady and loving my curves.”

Of course, I immediately used it as my Facebook profile photo.

As Dove said: “Don’t be disheartened if they can’t appreciate your beauty. Flaunt those curves and stand proud!”

I’m flaunting them, baby, I’m flaunting them!

As my new favourite singer Meghan Trainor sings: “My mama she told me don't worry about your size. She says, ‘Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.’”

Also in October, Madame Tussauds wax figure Gurmit Singh shared on Facebook a link to a blog post by his daughter Gabrielle complaining about misogynistic rap songs being played at Forever 21.

The post went viral and Forever 21 apologised, throwing under the bus a staff member who “had played his own personal list, which was not part of the company recommendations”.

He should’ve played some Meghan Trainor instead.

In case you’re keeping score, that’s Complain Queens 2 Corporations 0.

Making it 3-0 was Ms Gia Munaji Salamat, who posted a Facebook video of herself in extreme close-up complaining about a Koi Cafe staff member who used obscenities to tell her to go away.

The video went viral and Koi Cafe apologised last week, throwing the staff member under the bus by terminating her “with immediate effect”.

Even Arnold Schwarzenegger, the original Terminator, is shaking his head and saying, “That’s cold, Koi, no matter how many per cent sugar you put in it.”

Hoping to make the score 4-0 was student Yap Huixin who posted a complaint on the Starbucks Facebook page last Sunday.

Although she conceded that “it was our fault for hogging the seats”, the student griped that their stuff was cleared when she and her friend left the coffee shop for about 30 minutes and the manager “lectured” them.

She said she felt “disrespected and humiliated as a customer”.

It’s unclear whether they tried to be funny and ordered an Ariana Grande at Starbucks. I know I would have. I also get my suits made by Tailor Swift.

Due to the generally anti-establishment nature of the vocal Internet masses, you would expect people to support the student against the big bad corporation.

But then you would be underestimating how much people – both the management and other customers – hate these students hogging the seats.

So in a surprising turn of events, it was the student who apologised and Starbucks didn’t throw any staff member under the bus, although the company acknowledged that the manager could have “communicated a tad bit better”.

So the corporations managed to avoid a shut-out. Final score: Complain Queens 3 Corporations 1.

What an exciting finish, thanks to an own goal.

It’s now a new month. Let me kick it off with a couple of apologies of my own.

I once took the southbound MRT train from Yew Tee to Jurong East and sat next to a sleeping woman. At Jurong East, she was still sleeping.

For those of you who don’t know, Jurong East is the end of the line where the train changes direction and heads back north.

I wanted to wake the woman up but hesitated. She wasn’t holding a sign asking to be woken up at any specific station (like one sleeping Sengkang girl I can mention).

She would be so alarmed to be roused by a strange man and I look stranger than most.

So I just left the woman sleeping on the train heading back the way she came. She was going to be so confused by the time she woke up with the train going in the wrong direction.

To that woman, I apologise.

I also want to apologise to our President.

Apparently, someone wrote to the British High Commissioner in Singapore to complain about a British newspaper headline that made fun of the height difference between President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prince William in a photo taken during the president’s UK visit last month.

The paper, The Sun, called him “Prime Miniature”, which was “really disrespectful”.

I, too, posted the same picture on my Facebook page with the comment: “At times like this, you almost kinda wish Goh Chok Tong was our President.”

You know, because Mr Goh is so damn tall.

I’m sorry for that comment.

The Sun also apologised for what it called its “deliberately funny and joking headline”.

It then urged “any Singaporeans offended by the headline to consider whether their ire should instead be directed at their government who prevent proper freedom of expression by controlling the media”.

How mad would Hossan Leong be?

Well, at least The Sun didn’t call our President “fat”.

- Published in The New Paper, 2 November 2014