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,

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'