Monday, December 21, 2009

Madam Soupless @ Fat Fish Thai Steamboat

“What? $5 for the soup? Steamboat is supposed to come with soup. How can you charge me for it? It’s not that I can’t afford to pay for the soup. It’s just that this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard.”

This was the argument I overheard at the next table. It was between an angry woman in her late 50s and the poor waiter trying hard to explain company policy. You might think that she was shocked by the bill when the waiter showed it to her. But no. She had not even started yet. The waiter was just informing her upfront that they would be charging $5 for the soup.

I was having steamboat dinner with my friend Tsun Han at Fat Fish Restaurant at the Admiral Country Club on a Saturday night. They serve steamboat which included a generous spread of seafood and sliced meat buffet style. Like one reviewer said, “the prawns were so fresh that they squirm”. The staff was also friendly and attentive. The ambience was pretty good without being packed with noisy crowds. Well, at least it wasn’t noisy until Madam Soupless turned up and complained about the $5 soup even before she started.

Let’s see. The restaurant charges $22.80++ per person which was cheap. Adding $5 to the total bill would mean an additional charge of only a little more than a $1 for 4 people. So would Madam Soupless be happier if she were charged $25 (2 people at her table) with no mention of soup cost?

The restaurant’s policy is just an example of itemised charges promoting “transparency”. If charging Madam Soupless $5 was enough to freak her out, I wonder what would happen if the restaurant gave her a bill which looks like this:

Food $18
Soup $5
Utensils $1
Gas $1

$100 + $7 GST is ridiculous? $107 no GST is good? Look who is being not just ridiculous but also stupid.

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