Saturday, August 23, 2014

British tourist paid 216 Dolars for two sea bass dishes

This week, a letter from a British tourist (George Vickers) made its way to headlines in Singapore. George Vickers and his wife apparently went to Boat Quay for seafood and felt "ripped-off" after paying $216 for 2 sea bass. “We went to Boat Quay for a meal one evening and both of us chose sea bass without asking the price, so we were surprised when we got the bill and found that each fish had cost us $108” he said. “In most countries, the equivalent of $216 for two fish would be considered a rip-off.”

The issue here may seem like the restaurant : they did not warn the customers about the price. But due to the culture in Singapore, the real issue here is that the tourists did not ask for the price. Based on my experience in Singapore, I can say that it is not `appropriate` for a waiter to hint about the prices of expensive dishes. This is thought be considered as an insult, like saying `you may not be able to afford` it. This goes to news one or two times every year : a tourist orders a dish and faces with a super high bill and then argues with the restaurant because he was not informed.

So in Singapore in expensive establishments like the restaurants in Clarke Quay and Boat Quay, try to understand the prices of the expensive looking dishes before ordering them cheerfully. For example some dishes like Alaska crabs can cost more than 500 SGD per crab depending on its weight. No one will warn you because of the reason I have explained. For example a Filipino family on a trip in Singapore faced a bill of $1,186.20 where just the crab alone cost them $707. Their meal on April 26 at Forum Seafood Village Restaurant at Boat Quay also included prawns, a fish and a plate of vegetables.

By the way, the local media went to Boat Quay and tried to understand why a single sea bass costs 100+ SGD there. The reason is simple, rents! A restaurant in Boat Quay pays around 30,000 SGD per month(!) and it is a must to overcharge with these rents.

But do not forget, the real reason behind an exaggerated bill may really be overcharging. For example in a famous case in 2009, a food stall in (overrated) Newton Food Centre charged  a group of American diners a hefty S$239 for eight tiger prawns. The stall's license was suspended after the news went straight into local newspapers and TV.


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