Monday, 27 May 2019

Fake news? Are there no more queues at Shake Shack in Jewel as K F Seetoh seems to claim?

When I say “Jewel”, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

The waterfall? Shake Shack? A&W?

The song Foolish Games from the Batman And Robin soundtrack?



Well, the first thing that comes to my mind is long queues.

That’s why I avoided visiting the much hyped Changi Airport supermall since it opened last month.

If hell is other people, Jewel is nothing but hell.

Then last Wednesday morning, Makansutra founder and fellow TNP columnist K F Seetoh posted on Facebook photos showing a near-deserted Jewel with no queues outside Shake Shack and A&W.





He wrote:
“The line at the Shake has slacked to kosong n A&W stands for Anybody Want? The 24 hr food hall is thr to serve some overpromised kpi n i did not even know thrs a food court hidden within the food hall. I think now Joo Chiat more happening than Jewel la. A stall manager said they, like else whr get the usual lunch crowd but picks up only on weekends.

“Did someone over rara on promises at Jewel.”
Okay, if you can comprehend all that, then maybe you can explain to me the ending to Game Of Thrones too. (Like why is there still a Night Watch?)



My takeaway from Seetoh’s post was, woohoo, no more crowds! I can go to Jewel now, just maybe not during lunch and the weekend.

And perhaps I should check out Joo Chiat too.



At first, people on Facebook agreed with Seetoh.

One commented:
“Well it’s a over rated mall with common shops found in other downtown and heartland malls. Food stores like Shake Shack and A&W taste horrible. Once you tasted the original, these are just pale in comparison. Furthermore if you don’t stay in the east, who would want to waste time and the hassle to travel all the way to jewel for a mediocre mall?”
Well, at least it doesn’t have an indoor cycling track.

Another commenter was more succinct: “White Jewel elephant!!!”

Then someone asked when the photos were taken.

Seetoh replied 9.15am.

Well, that changed things.



He was asked: “Why do u take pics at early in the morn and then deduce the ‘kosong’ queues? Who on earth goes to any shopping mall at 9 or even 10am at weekdays. Be fair in your conclusions lah.”

Also, I might add, while A&W is open 24 hours, Shake Shack opens only at 10am.

Someone else pointed out: “Joo Chiat got consistently long Qs on a weekday morning ah?”

Another warned: “This post may be covered under the fake news law if it goes viral.”

Well, it went viral enough that AsiaOne reported: “K F Seetoh posts photos of empty Jewel Changi Airport, internet disagrees.”



Oh no, will the Singapore hawker food champion have to run away to South Africa to escape prosecution under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act?

Or marry his boyfriend. Whatever, man. Follow your heart.

Ironically, he would probably have to go through Changi Airport. (Unless he flees by sampan.)

Backtracking a little, Seetoh later added to his post:
“i was there same time today, pre opening hrs at 930am, same as three weeks back and the lines then were ridiculous. But its all but disappeared now. I see the usual crowds closer to opening and regular hours, which is normal and i hope it continues. The decline is slow and real. I feel for the tenants, esp the 24/7 ones.”
So his point was that even at this early hour, there were long queues when Jewel first opened but not anymore. His concern is: “If nobody at some hrs..why make them open 24/7 in these depressed manpower conditions.”

Wait, wait, wait, so does this mean there are still long lines at Jewel or not?

I decided to find out for myself last Friday afternoon by travelling all the way from my home in Choa Chu Kang to Changi while listening to Jewel’s greatest hits on my non-Huawei phone.



It was hell.

Who will save your soul indeed.

To answer Seetoh’s A&W question, yes, a lot want.

- Published in The New Paper, 27 May 2019





Wednesday, 22 May 2019

NTUC Enterprise responds to my 50-cent teh column: 'We apologise for the confusion'



So my last column was about my confusion over the 50-cent teh deal at the NTUC Foodfare coffeeshop.

In response to the article published in The New Paper on May 13, a reader named Lilian Seah e-mailed me:

Good morning,

Thanks for the article in The New Paper this morning.

The discount is not applicable in NTUC hawker in Kampung Admiralty. I was really surprised as this location is specially opened by Mr Lee Hsien Loong. Kampung Admiralty, an integrated housing estate for senior citizens, is considered a model for future public housing.

The mixed vegetables rice prices in most NTUC food court has special concessions for senior citizens, student and NTUC union members. But it's also not applicable in Kampung Admiralty. Example: Khoo Teck Phuat Hospital food court and NTUC coffeeshop in Blk 361 Sembawang crescent.

NTUC privilege is not align and it's really confusing to consumers.

Hope to hear from you soon.

So last week, NTUC Enterprise wrote a letter to TNP responding to my column and the reader's e-mail:

Dear Editor,

We refer to the article by SM Ong – Confusion over 50-cent Teh deal at Foodfare dated 13 May 2019, and to the letter from your reader Ms Lilian Seah

We thank them for sharing their experiences.

The following ten hot beverages Kopi, Kopi-O, Kopi-O Kosong, Kopi-C, Kopi-C Kosong, Teh, Teh-O, Teh-O Kosong, Teh-C, Teh-C Kosong are offered at $0.50 to NTUC Union members every day for the month of May at over 90 NTUC Foodfare and Kopitiam food courts and coffee shops islandwide.

To ensure that every NTUC Union member gets to enjoy this promotion, each member can buy 1 cup of kopi/teh upon presenting one NTUC union membership card. That is to say, the same member is entitled to buy two cups at $0.50 each by presenting two NTUC union membership cards in a single transaction – in the event he is making the purchase on behalf of another member. We wish to highlight that there is no limit to the number of cups each member can buy per day. To minimise waiting times for other customers, an NTUC union member holding a single NTUC union membership card is encouraged to re-join the queue if he wishes to purchase an additional cup at $0.50.

We apologise for the confusion Mr Ong has experienced. We shall continue to reinforce our communication with the operations team to ensure consistency in the implementation of the promotion.

We are glad that the promotion has been well received and there have been suggestions to extend this offer to the hawker centres. We shall take this into consideration for our future campaigns. Customers may refer to Foodfare’s website (www.foodfare.com.sg) or Kopitiam’s website (www.kopitiam.biz) for more information and the full listing of the participating outlets.

Meanwhile, NTUC union members continue to enjoy a host of member privileges at NTUC Foodfare food courts, coffee shops and new hawker centres.

At our Rice Garden stall, customers enjoy mixed rice meals at concessionary prices for senior citizens, students, NTUC union members and other concession card holders. Launched by NTUC Foodfare in 2009, Rice Garden is a social outreach programme to provide affordable meals to Singaporeans so as to help moderate their cost of living. To date, we have 47 Rice Garden stalls operating in coffee shops and hawker centres including Kampung Admiralty hawker centre (KAHC).

To bring greater value to the NTUC union members, we also extend the following benefits at NTUC Foodfare food courts and coffee shops,

  • Every stall offers an NTUC value meal which members may purchase at a discount of up to 15%
  • NTUC breakfast set sold at a member price of $1.80 ($2.20 for the public)
  • NTUC U Live members (aged 55 years and above) enjoy a 10% senior citizen discount every Tuesday
In addition, every stall at our coffee shops offers a budget meal priced from $2 - $3, which can be enjoyed by the public.

We have noted the feedback from Ms Seah and would like to gather more details of her experience at KAHC for follow-up action. We would appreciate if she may contact our service quality team at 6756 0266 or via email at feedback@foodfare.com.sg.

It is NTUC Foodfare’s social mission to provide value, quality cooked food at affordable prices and we intend to provide better value to our customers through initiatives such as the 50-cent kopi/ teh promotion.

It doesn't answer my question about when there's no queue, but ok.

I'm actually too paiseh to queue up twice. So I'm sacrificing 40 cents every time I buy drinks (one teh-o, one teh) for my wife and me for the rest of the month.

If only I were more thick-skinned.


EARLIER: Storm in a 50-cent tea cup? Confusion over May deal at NTUC Foodfare

Monday, 13 May 2019

Storm in a 50-cent tea cup? Confusion over May deal at NTUC Foodfare



Just half a dollar.

For the whole of this month, when you show your National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) membership card at NTUC Foodfare or Kopitiam, you can buy a cup of hot coffee or tea (or their various c, o, kosong, siew dai, ga dai, po, gau incarnation) for only 50 cents.

I believe it has something to do with May Day, celebrating workers and all that.

At least I don’t have to demean myself by wearing a Liverpool jersey to get the special price.



I was delighted to spot the “$0.50 kopi & teh” sign in my neighbourhood Foodfare coffee shop since I go there to buy a packet of teh for myself and a packet of teh-o for my wife to take home practically every morning.

It usually costs $1 for the teh and 90 cents for the teh-o, but this month, I need to pay only $1 for both. It’s like Thanos snapped half the price away.

That will save me $27.90, which I can spend on watching Avengers: Endgame in Imax 3D again with popcorn.



Or so I thought.

For the first few days of the month, I smiled like I had never smiled before at the drinks auntie as I showed her my NTUC card and paid only $1 for my daily beverages.

Then last week, things suddenly changed.

She told me she could charge me 50 cents for only one drink and I had to pay full price for the other.

Wait, what?

She explained that the rule is actually one cup per card.

So they had been doing it wrong all this time?

I asked, what if I queued up and ordered again? The auntie said, no, no, she still had to charge me full price for the second drink.

But what if I disguised myself such that she couldn’t recognise me? Josh damn it, I left my Thanos mask at home.

If I wanted to pay 50 cents for my wife’s teh-o, it seemed my only options were to go to another NTUC Foodfare or Kopitiam, or get someone else to order for me using my NTUC card (since they didn’t check who the card belonged to), or wait for the drink stall staff to change shift.

Or pay full price, which was, of course, unthinkable.

That’s like 40 cents more!

I looked around the coffee shop and considered asking a stranger to order the teh-o for me, but my skin wasn’t “gau” enough.

I was about to head home teh-o-less, but the fear of disappointing my wife made me turn around and accept the unthinkable – I would pay the full price of 90 cents for her drink.

The drinks auntie sighed when she saw me again. Half exasperated and half taking pity on me, she charged me 50 cents for the teh-o and said she wasn’t supposed to do this.

I smiled at her like I never smiled at anyone before.

Never mind the Avengers – she’s my hero.

But still confounded by the “one cup per card” rule, I looked it up online and found an April 25 Straits Times report that said:
“There is no limit to the number of cups of discounted kopi, kopi-o, kopi-c, teh, teh-o and teh-c - including sugarless varieties – customers can order in one day. They can order one discounted drink for each card presented at the counter and have to queue again to order each subsequent cup.”
Which contradicts what the drinks auntie told me.



Was my hero mistaken or should ST be prosecuted under the new Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act?

But even if ST is right, it seems kind of silly to force people to queue up each time for a 50-cent beverage.

What if there’s no queue? Can I just order multiple 50-cent cups? Or must I go through the motion of ordering one at a time?

And why was it different for the first few days of the month?

It appears NTUC hasn’t quite thought this through.

Oh yah, and do I need to bring my Thanos mask?

The things I do to save 40 cents.

- Published in The New Paper, 13 May 2019


Good morning,

Thanks for the article in The New Paper this morning.

The discount is not applicable in NTUC hawker in Kampung Admiralty. I was really surprised as this location is specially opened by Mr Lee Hsien Loong. Kampung Admiralty, an integrated housing estate for senior citizens, is considered a model for future public housing.

The mixed vegetables rice prices in most NTUC food court has special concessions for senior citizens, student and NTUC union members. But it's also not applicable in Kampung Admiralty. Example: Khoo Teck Phuat Hospital food court and NTUC coffeeshop in Blk 361 Sembawang crescent.

NTUC privilege is not align and it's really confusing to consumers.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Thank you,
Lilian


Hello S Mong

I read with amusement, your article in TNP today. I have not tried purchasing the 50 cents kopi but another deal caught my attention - free ferry ticket to batam (need to pay $20 for fees and surcharges). I am planning to make good use of it this long weekend for my family but now i am not sure if i can buy their tickets too.

Perhaps it's not about the organiser not thinking through all possibilities, but really Singaporeans are always very creative in finding loop holes or getting around the rules. You have pointed out a few in the article. Another good example is the recent HPB QR code incident. Some Singaporeans see the goodwill perks/deals as an entitlement and demanded beyond what is logical, causing happiness and ranting.

I guess if i can get discounted ferry tickets for my family, that would be great but if i can't, then at least i have some savings on my ticket.

When we show gratitude for the little things in life, we can lead happier lives.


UPDATE: NTUC Enterprise responds: 'We apologise for the confusion'

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Safety advisory sent to NUS students: Female resident was filmed in bathroom at Raffles Hall



So my daughter, a National University of Singapore student, just received another e-mail from the school:
From: Office of Campus Security
Sent: Saturday, May 11, 2019 7:13:48 PM

Dear NUS Student

Safety advisory from NUS Campus Security

This morning, the Office of Campus Security (OCS) was alerted to an incident in which a female resident was filmed in one of the bathrooms at Raffles Hall. The matter has been reported to the police and we are assisting in their investigation.

The University is providing the female student with dedicated support and assistance.

Since April, the University has been enhancing security on our campuses through the introduction of enhanced CCTV coverage, secure shower cubicles, restroom locks and increased patrols by campus security officers.

All of these measures are in the midst of being implemented at Raffles Hall, including the secure shower cubicles which will be installed in the coming weeks. One of the newly installed CCTV cameras at the hall had enabled us to capture footage of the male suspect, who has been apprehended by the police for further investigation.

Your safety is important to us. While NUS accelerates the implementation of these security enhancements, we urge all students and staff to remain vigilant, and to immediately report any suspicious activity to OCS at our 24-hour hotline: 6874 1616 and email: ocssec@nus.edu.sg.

Let's work together to keep our campuses safe for everyone.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Keith It
Director
Office of Campus Security

This is getting out of hand.


EARLIER: After Monica Baey: My daughter is in NUS, should I be worried?




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