Pricing prevents miscommunication while build trust in F&B

Cai png is economic rice

Cai Png is a dish of economic rice. The term “economic” refers to the affordable dish of rice with several selection of veggies and/or meat.

Unfortunately, there is no price label on the varieties of veggies or meat (aka dishes). Regulation is lax. Hence, regular customers are accustomed to becoming smarter, i.e., they are able to identify expensive dishes (in order to avoid them).

Bait or trap?

Sometimes, meat fried with a batter (aka fritter) can make it difficult to identify the dish. It is thus prudent to ask the stall owner or helper for the identity of the meat, else you will be charged higher for fish, prawn, squid or other seafood. In addition, any veggies fried with anchovies, small shrimps, or other seafood may also be charged as meat or “seafood”, and you end up paying higher price for the dish than normal veggies.

It is unfortunate that you are misled to think that you are ordering vegetables, while in actuality you are not. It may be frustrating when you have to argue with the stall owner. It brings back memory of pre-Jover Chew’s Sim Lim Square time when regulation and standards were poor there (ref. 3).

It is a trap

A cai png with fish at AMK Mayflower hawker centre that cost $11 was a trap (ref. 1). It was a TRAP because the dish was not priced and customer assumed that the dish in a hawker centre should be reasonably priced. Unfortunately, there was no price label or pricing table. It is understandable that the customer was shocked and upset.

The owner had justified the price of her mackerel at $8 per slice by suggesting that her fish was bought “fresh” versus frozen. Such justification is completely irrelevant and illogical. What’s next, Premium Wahyu beef fritters fried with veggies that would cost $10 per scoop? If she had the audacity to price her fish slice at $8, she should be more responsible to include a price tag there to prevent potential misunderstanding, especially when cai png at hawker centre is hardly as expensive as hers.

Alas, it is understandable that she had more motivation to lay the “trap” at her stall for gullible patrons to step than to act responsibly (by displaying the price). Unfortunate for her, in the age if social media, her act can become viral (i.e., highly shared in social media).

Include price to build trust

If you want to build cuatomer trust, ensure your business practices are ethical. Else, you will become viral and untrustworthy, regardless of how much you justified your act (especially when it made lesser sense after the reasoning).

Reference

  1. Cai Png with fish from AMK Mayflower hawker centre costs S$11 (https://mothership.sg/2022/06/economy-rice-expensive-singapore/)
  2. Hawker who sold viral $11 cai png with fish explains why it is so expensive (https://goodyfeed.com/viral-11-cai-png-responds/)
  3. Jover Chew, former boss of Mobile Air jailed 33 months for conning customers, also fined $2000 (https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/jover-chew-former-boss-of-mobile-air-jailed-33-months-for-conning-customers)

How to download your certificates attained from NTUCLearning or SkillFuture

Steps are

  1. Visit https://www.myskillsfuture.gov.sg/content/portal/en/index.html
  2. Login with your SingPass
  3. Go to Menu (three line icon at top right)
  4. Select Skills Passport
  5. There will be a list of certificates that you have achieved

This is follow-up from previous blog in regards to Food Safety Course (FSC) Level 1 from NTUC LearningHub (ref. 1, 2).

Reference

  1. Finished FSC Level 1 via NTUC LearningHub (https://siekitchen.com/2020/12/30/finished-food-safety-course-fsc-level-1-via-ntuc-learninghub/)
  2. Food Safety Course requirement to work in F&B and how to register for that course (https://siekitchen.com/2020/12/24/food-safety-course-fsc-requirement-to-work-in-food-and-beverage-fb-how-to-register/)

Cancellation of monthly instalment on UOB credit card costs $150

Trapped by zero-interest 3 years instalment plan

I had used the UOB credit card ‘zero-interest’ 36 months instalment plan when I bought a $2700 Smart TV at Gaincity. The salesperson had suggested going for the max. My fee waiver had been rejected twice and I began to wonder if the instalment plan had something to do with it (ref. 1).

My guess was, as you start using the credit card services and unconsciously bound yourself with the credit card company with a long 3-years credit, you are doomed.

The ‘zero-interest’ instalment ended up costing me $400 service fee (for two years).

How to liberate yourself from the instalment or credit trap

If you don’t really need the credit provided by the bank/credit card, don’t get trapped. Pay in full.

I called UOB customer service (1800 222 2121) and got the following information.

  • Cancellation fee for termination of instalment plan is $150. This is cheaper than the yearly fee of $200.
  • To go about cancellation, just make payment in excess (inclusive of $150 cancellation fee) to your credit card
  • Call again to customer service
  • Then ask to cancel the instalment plan
  • To get through the call may take some time depending on the call traffic. Be patient.

Lesson learned from this case

Product salespersons may be ignorant, so don’t fall into a credit trap unnecessarily based on their unqualified suggestions. The cost can be high (especially the ‘hidden costs’).

For this experience, I have paid in access $400 fees + $150 penalty = $550 on top of the $2700. That is equivalent to 20% of the price of the TV.

After this episode, I can now decide to discontinue my credit card with UOB and start shopping for other service providers (e.g., OCBC, Maybank, POSB/DBS, Standard Chartered, CIMB, HSBC, NTUC, BOC, ICBC, and others, ref. 2).

Reference

  1. How to waive UOB credit card membership fee (https://siekitchen.com/2020/11/07/how-to-waive-uob-credit-card-membership-fee/)
  2. Compare the Best Credit Cards in Singapore 2021 (https://www.moneysmart.sg/credit-cards)

How to waive POSB credit card membership fee

It is easy to apply for waiver. Use a browser and login to POSB or DBS. Then, via a digibot, key in ‘fee waiver’. The bot will guide you in the process.

Alternatively, you can call in at 18001111111. However, that will be slower as the customer hotline is always occupied.

REFERENCE

  1. Waive Credit Card / Cashline Fees & Charges (https://www.dbs.com.sg/personal/support/card-waive-credit-card-cashline-charges.html)
  2. How to waive UOB credit card fee (https://siekitchen.com/2020/11/07/how-to-waive-uob-credit-card-membership-fee/)

Webinar on The Road to Becoming a Hawker by Hawkers Collective and NTUC LearningHub, 17 Sep 2021 Fri at 15.00

This webinar is organized by NTUC LearningHub and Hawkers Collective to share insights from ‘hawker mentors’ that 0, HeyMe Prawn Noodles, Hong Seng Curry Rice, Li Xin fishball noodles, Old Amoy Chendol, Reimondo Seafood Congee, Soon Heng Pork Noodles, Tian Kee Carrot Cake & Hokkien Mee, Warong Pak Sapari and Western Barbeque.

To register, go to the following Zoom link.

Items non exchangeable and non refundable are superseded by Singapore Lemon Law

Customers will be given ‘warning’ during checkouts at the cashier that their items are non exchangeable and non refundable. The cashiers say it according to their management’s instruction: ‘please note that these items are not exchangeable and non refundable’. Some are ‘stamped’ on the receipt (Fig. 1).

I would usually say, ‘yeah, ok’. Why would I even need to bother telling the cashier who is not in a management position about Lemon Law? But I know what Lemon Law is and my rights to replace/exchange a DEFECTIVE GOOD.

So, for all customers, your rights are protected under Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act Chapter 52A (https://sso.agc.gov.sg/Act/CPFTA2003), under Part III Additional Consumer Rights in Respect to Non-conforming Goods (i.e., defective goods).

If you got a defective goods, you can get it replaced with the same design, size, or model of the product. In the event that there is no suitable replacement, you can get an exchange (provided that you are agreeable), i.e., to switch the defective item with something of equivalent trait or value. If there is no suitable equivalent value to exchange, you can get a refund!

Some company are more open about their return policy, e.g., Art Friend (Fig. 2).

So, if you encounter an outlet or staff that says your goods are non-exchangeable and non-refundable, THE RULE IS NOT BINDING BECAUSE IT IS SUPERCEDED BY LEMON LAW.

Fig. 1 items sold are non-exchangeable and non-refundable by Sketchers Singapore
Fig. 2 Art Friend receipt conform to the Lemon Law requirement (somewhat, because Lemon law protects consumers longer, especially when the defect may take time to reveal itself).

Reference

  1. Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act Chapter 52A (https://sso.agc.gov.sg/Act/CPFTA2003)
  2. What is Lemon Law?, 29 May 2021 (https://irblaw.com.sg/learning-centre/lemon-law/)

Daun Ketapang (or Indian Almond Leave) is used to keep betta fish

Betta fish is also known as Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens) found in freshwater and native to South-East Asia.

Aquarists who keep this fish will use Daun Ketapang (Indian Almond leave, Terminalia catappa) in the water when their fish is sick or lethargic. The dried leave are added to the water, where they will lower its pH and infuse the water with beneficial chemicals. One major chemical component is tannic acid and tannins.

The Ketapang is useful to treat fish skin ailment. The antimicrobial tannin kills bacteria, fungus, and viruses. It is better alternative to the fish antibiotics (ref. 2)

How to make almond leaf extract? The tannin and other phytochemicals are water soluble. You can increase the chemical release by pouring hot water over the dry leave and incubate overnight until the water changes colour. Keep the solution chilled for months.

Tannin is a non-toxic phenol that function as crosslinking agent (ref. 3). It is used to agglutinate microbes in order to inactivate them. Its crosslinking property is beneficial in wound healing (ref. 4)

Tannin has been used in leather-making industry where curing involves chemical crosslinking afforded by adding tannin to the leather (ref. 5).

Reference

  1. Where to find Ketapang leaf (aka Indian Almond Leaf) (https://bettaboy.wordpress.com/2017/09/11/where-to-find-ketapang-leaf-aka-indian-almond-leaf/)
  2. Indian Almond Leaves: Keeping your fish happy, naturally, 7 Apr 2021 (https://fishlab.com/indian-almond-leaves/)
  3. Effect of tannic acid as crosslinking agent on fish skin gelatin-silver nanocomposite film (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2214289418300747)
  4. The use of tannins in the local treatment of burn wounds – a pilot study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3346037/)
  5. Tanning (leather) (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanning_(leather))

Business owners with lousy website security self-block businesses

Lackadaisical attitude by business owner irks customers

You can call it sabotage, rivalry action, or callousness (or lackadaisical).

Business owners who don’t put thoughts into maintaining its web presence can only display its lack of professionalism. The trait is a letdown to potential customers.

Get professional help or web development platforms

A business should hire only professionals to maintain its website. If not, at least get an IT-competent staff to subscribe to web development platforms such as WordPress, Wix or GoDaddy to maintain their website!

Unsecured website is a threat to customers

Alas, their inaptitude can cause harm to customers/visitors who visit their website (Fig. 1-2).

Those with anti-virus will pick up the threat and render their website useless (Fig. 3).

Site can’t be reached. Conversion funnel is nil.

If businesses such as UTOC (Singapore) Pte Ltd can’t be bothered with its web security, it can only expect zero customer from CONVERSION FUNNEL attributed to website presence.

Fig. 1 AVG detected and aborted threat from a website
Fig. 2 AVG history displayed the threat blocked from a website
Fig. 3 Website with threats will not be available in the user’s broswer

Phillip Capital Poems GTD, Cash, and fees

It is easy to open an account to invest in securities in Singapore. Register for an account in any stock broker, e.g., Phillip Capital. You will receive a CDP account (from SGX) and an online trading platform POEMS account.

Next, open a bank account for Electronic Payment System (EPS) and link it to POEMS. Install the apps on your phone and you can trade any time any where.

If you want to use your CPF to invest in securities, you can apply for CPF Investment Scheme (CPFIS), where you can invest securities using your ordinary account (OA) and special account (SA). Please note the cost-and-benefit of using CPF to invest, e.g., CPF provides yearly interest of at least 2.5% p.a.

POEMS allow you to add securities to watch list, add price alerts, and trade by limit order, and good to day (GTD). The commission fee is $25 per transaction per day (excludes other fees).

For successful purchase of securities with Cash, you have to pay within T+2. Payment is by bank transfer to Phillips Securities via EPS. It takes T+1 to effect the bank transfer.

It is convenient to buy via GTD, but the risk is that if you have multiple ‘partial completions’ to complete an order, especially in ‘sluggish’ counters, you will have to pay for multiple commission fees at $25 for each transaction per day. E.g., I had to pay $25 + $25 for two partial orders of 1000 units and 2000 units of securities (for a GTD limit order of 3000 units). What happens if I have 3 partial transactions? I will have to pay commission fee of $75.

I am still learning how to trade and currently only looking at SGX securities. There are other exchanges that I haven’t ventured.

Start investing when you start to work. Know your assets, liabilities, and equity.

siekitchen@gmail.com
3 Jul 2021

As a working person, it is important to understand your assets, liabilities, and equity (i.e., A=LE). Let us look at the following examples.

Assets

Intangible assets

We start of with this asset.

Your qualification/skill is your intangible asset. It allows you to earn revenue via service contract with your boss, i.e., through job or freelancing. To be relevant, it is important to continue your education (aka lifelong learning). That way, you don’t make your intangible asset ‘obsolete’.

However, invest in education should be decided based on the cost-benefit analysis (CBA). Benefit should outweigh the cost. Select relevant and value-added courses that will help you to improve your intangible assets. It MUST NOT be a ‘trophy qualification’.

Real property

Real property is a good asset in Singapore. It is subjected to capital appreciation (i.e., value increase/decrease by market demand).

If the asset is bought by a home loan (i.e., mortgage or debt), then the asset is a mix of liabilities + equity (L+E). The bank co-owns the property. As you repay the loan, you reclaim more equity over your property.

The expenses that you pay for your property are the property tax, bank interest on loan, conservancy charges or monthly maintenance fees.

In comparison to rent, paying a housing loan is an ‘investment’ (plus expense/interest). You pay for the ‘equity’ over time. In contrast, if you pay rent, it is entirely your expenses (without return). In countries where the property market is constantly in over-supply, property is considered a risky investment.

The challenges to buy a property are the significant down-payment, one-time transaction costs, renovation/furnishing costs, and securing loan.

Car

Car is not an asset, unless it brings revenue, e.g., when you are ‘moonlighting’ as a Grab driver. There is no capital appreciation (increase in value), except depreciation. The depreciation value can be above $10k per year. Other expenses involved in owning a car are interest, petrol, maintenance, parts replacement, etc.

Liabilities

Loans

Loans are derived from Education, Property, and Car purchases.

Property loan can help to grow your asset (dependent on its capital appreciation). It can be a loss if there is a glut (i.e., over-supply) that caused depreciated value.

Education loan helps improve your intangible asset and allow you to generate revenue (i.e., salary/service fees).

Car loan can be used to generate revenue (or ‘cost recovery’) if you use it in gig economy of ‘shared rides’. Else, it depreciates rapidly.

Equity

Property

As you repay your mortgage, you start to increase your equity over that property. The final asset value depends on market demand. If there is uptrend, you earn profit from its capital appreciation.

Summary

The above is an example of your assets, liabilities and equity. Everyone starts off with intangible assets and sometimes liabilities such as education loan. But over time, you should be able to reduce your liabilities and improve your equity. The more asset you accumulate, the higher their values appreciate, the more you keep your equity.

Other assets that I did not mention are in share-holding (i.e., equity market), starting your own business, other investments, and insurance that protects your asset/health. Insurance is a liability if it is short-term, but some are structured to have lower expenses/premium over longer-term commitment. It is important to start your insurance policy early, especially if you want to start a family and have several liabilities under your belt.

Advice from other gurus

  • Grow your asset
    • intangible asset (i.e., your qualification/skill)
    • invest part of your salary
      • knowledge acquisition, e.g., books, courses
      • share-holding or investments that has at least 1% p.a. return (e.g., saving bonds, insurance savings plan)
      • once you have sum for down-payment, invest in property
    • assets to consider
      • shares
      • property
      • intangible assets (yourself)
  • Reduce your liabilities
    • get into loans that have better benefits/returns, e.g., property or continuous education
    • avoid loans that don’t add value. If you must own a car, wait until your asset grow and you can afford to draw out from your growing equity.
  • Manage your expenses
    • it is good to spend money to improve your well-being. This is considered as maintaining your ‘intangible asset’ (or mental health), but don’t overspend and accrue credit card debts.
    • understand your recurring expenses. If there are ways/alternatives to reduce these expenses, do it.
    • consider implementing ‘cost-recovery’ if your expenses are too high, e.g., car debt repayment can be offset by moonlighting as grab driver to earn revenue. If this is property repayment, consider renting out a room to a colleague to offset the monthly home loan repayment.