[EXCLUSIVE] Singapore's Top 10 Worst Consumer Behaviour

Written by azhar.

Working as a cashier in a huge supermarket for the past two months has opened my eyes to the various silly antics of Singapore customers. Most of the behaviour mentioned here may seem shameless and risible but they explicitly mirror the greedy, arrogant and thoughtless characteristics that some local customers possess. The list includes foolish manners by consumers which you may not have known before.

The tabulation below compiles the behaviour of middle-aged to old Singapore customers only. It covers both the antics portrayed by Singaporean citizens as well as the foreign expatriates living and working in the island too. In this blog post, I intend to highlight the dirty habits of local consumers in the hope that the rest of the society will not follow them.

(in random order)

1) Huh? Err? Hmm? *gone*
I do not have a problem with the influx of foreign talents into Singapore, but I definitely have a problem with foreign workers who expect us to communicate in a language that they use widely in their homeland. I have encountered many situations whereby customers showed poor attitude and rushed off when I could not understand the language they are using.

One of the similar experiences that is still vivid in my mind is when a young Chinese-speaking female customer (most probably from China) snatched her goods away from me and stormed off the store grumpily after failing to converse with me properly. It is as if I was expected to know and learn the language that she uses in her homeland. Can't she just be patient and wait while I get a colleague to translate what she was trying to say? What a bummer....

2) The Newspaper Browser
There is a rule stated clearly above the magazine and newspaper shelf that customers are not allowed to browse through the reading materials available. Well, apparently some customers have found a way to circumvent the rule. This is what they do:

First, they choose the newspaper that they wish to read. Next, they join a long queue and start browsing through the articles in the newspaper. They probably use the first few minutes to finish reading on the cover story. Finally, once they reach the counter, they look at the cashier and say, "Oh, I don't want the newspaper."

Amazing isn't it? (lots of sarcasm here)

3) Greedy Liars
The retail company that I am working for upholds the policy that if buyers are unhappy with the goods that they bought from its stores, a full refund will be given to them. As expected, a few greedy customers are trying to exploit the policy by attempting to lie all the way till they get their moolah back. Let me share with you two stories as told by one of my female colleagues who works under the Delicatessen section:

A few weeks ago, a customer came into the outlet, strolled to the Delicatessen section and before you knew it, began throwing insulting remarks at her. The customer bought cooked chicken prepared by her two days ago. Now, he was claiming that the chicken was uncooked. When asked to hand over the chicken for investigation, the customer refused to cooperate and instead gave a loud rude reply, "I gave the uncooked chicken to my dog!" She could not give the refund as there was no proof that the chicken was not well-cooked. The customer could be cooking up a story to earn the cash he did not deserve to get. In the end, the customer went straight to one of my duty managers who decided to give a full refund after checking the receipt. Till now, my colleague believes that decision was a poor one.

Nonetheless, the customer in the story below was not as lucky as the one above.

The customer in this story used the very same tactic as the one above, except for one key difference - the anomaly on the receipt. He was aggressive and hurled insults at my colleague. He then tried to fool my Store Manager while appealing for the refund. The outlet I am working for is located in Sengkang. However, the receipt showed that the chicken was brought from an outlet in Hougang! It was a completely failed attempt to get a cash refund and the abashed customer went home empty-handed, leaving behind his ego.

4) The Money Changers
This particular behaviour is actually quite funny when I look at it in retrospect but nevertheless, it sure annoys the other customers in the queue. I, for one, have a personal experience with people who love to change their big notes. I love to call them the 'money changers' and I enjoy sharing their antics with my friends, such as this one:

A female customer handed over the good she wanted to buy to me so that I could scan it. My screen revealed that it was a small sanitary pad which costs around $4 (can't remember the exact amount). She whips out her wallet, took out a note and passed it over to me. Guess what? It was a $1000 note!

I had no choice but to rush to the Cashiers' Room and change the $1000 note into smaller denominations. This usually takes quite some time, especially when the Chief Cashier is out at the washroom! OHGAWD! Next time if you want to change big notes into smaller ones, please do so in a place called a BANK!

5) Anti- Bring Your Own Bag Day
If you think that all Singapore consumers are in favour of the weekly 'Bring Your Own Bag Day' campaign, then you are wrong. There were buyers who questioned me where the money collected by the weekly donations are heading to. When I gave the reply that the donations will be channeled to the Singapore Environment Council, they were unimpressed. One of them even said, "Money go straight to gahmen! What's the point?!"

Other more experienced colleagues also shared their pitiful experiences with me. Most of them agree that the campaign is still relatively unpopular and unknown among local consumers. My colleagues added that at times, they were scolded after informing their customers that they were supposed to bring their own bags. Somehow, the buyers felt that the campaign was just causing too much trouble for them.

It takes time for local consumers to get used to the weekly campaign I guess...

6) Plastic Notes Only
I have customers who after receiving their changes, request for the paper notes to be swapped with plastic ones. This habit is especially prevalent among senior citizens. So what makes this particular habit bad, you ask?

Well, it turns bad when they insist on having the plastic notes at ALL COSTS. There are times whereby we cashiers have run out of plastic notes in our cash box. This leaves us with no choice but to act like beggars and visit the other counters searching for available plastic notes. Mind you, the other cashiers are also serving a line of customers. Lots of time is lost just to meet the strict requirements of the old lady.

Till now, I still don't get why senior citizens (not all of course) only accept plastic notes because sooner or later, the notes will be used! (for goodness sake)

7) The (Queue) Jumper
"Aiyah...I have only one item to purchase...let me go first lah," said the old woman as she forced her way to the front end of the queue.

This is one of the most common bad behaviour that I have witnessed so far. Queue jumpers are very annoying. I mean seriously, they are really really annoying. They may get away with it the first time, but one day someone may just teach them the lesson.

One of my colleagues once shared with me a story whereby she nearly quit her job because of a queue jumper. So what happened? The annoying human being jumped queue and when my colleague tried to stop her and refused to scan her items first, she retaliated and criticized her loudly. My colleague was so embarrassed by the incident that she ran straight to our Section Leader and wanted to resign. I told you they are annoying...

8) I Want That Free Gift!!!
Promotions are available all year round in participating supermarkets. One of the most popular promotions is the free gift. A very good example is the Sunshine Bakeries' free gift marketing campaign. Some of you may know by now that Sunshine Bakeries is running a promotion whereby a free packet of Hot dog Buns are given upon purchase of their selected types of breads. The thing is that the free gift are only available while stocks lasts.

Some customers just don't get it. They would request for a full refund if the free packet of Hot dog Buns were not given. Some would even accuse us for being misleading. There is no way we can remove the advertising brochure from the bread shelf the moment we run out of the free gifts. Oh and by the way, the brochure also clearly indicates that the free gifts are available while stocks last. I rest my case...

9) Where Did The Herbs Go To?
Thieves are everywhere and one of their favourite spots is the supermarket. Of course, they are not stupid enough to smuggle the whole unpaid product out of the store; so what did they do? Here you go, using a bottle of herbs as an example:

First, he chooses the bottle of herbs that he wants. Next, he opens the lid, pours all the content into the pocket before inserting shreds of paper into the now-empty bottle. Finally, he walked out the store a free man.

Not convinced that the strategy worked? Well, it happened last month! One of the Sales Assistants found the bottle filled with shreds of paper. And herbs are not the only favourite goods stolen; batteries are another easy target. Their small size makes it easy for the thieves to smuggle them out unnoticed.

10) Littering!
What do you do after you have checked your receipt?
a) Keep it in the plastic bag and dispose of it at home
b) Heck. Just leave it in the basket!

Rubbish bins are available at all counters. Customers usually check their receipts near the entrance. And once done, believe it or not, some of them chose to throw them in the baskets stacked up there. How do I know? I was given the duty to clear the baskets collected at the cashiers and re-stack them up at the entrance once. Well, you guessed it, I had to spend quite some time to clear all the receipts and rubbish left behind in the baskets. Sometimes there is liquid spilled all over the baskets. Ewww...

There you go, Singapore's top ten worst consumer behaviour! Do share with me what you think of the antics mentioned above!


Anonymous said...

These bad habits are universal. The key question is prevalence in any given area.

kingkong said...

I personally did not know point no. 2 exist. Wow. I think you didnt mention abt those who love to chop their place in the queue. Very irritating too.

Of course the bad habits are universal. But the stories are based in Singapore.

azhar said...

@Anonymous: Thank you for the feedback. The bad habits mentioned are very common in Singapore. I have served hundreds of customers each day and can assure that they are very much common here. However, the same cannot be said of other countries, etc. They look universal but you never know...

@kingkong: Ahhh...I am not sure what you really mean by 'chop' their place in the queue. Of course, there are some parents who request their children to join the line with the trolleys and all while they continue shopping, etc. That is not wrong. But if you are referring to those who put tissues, etc like how they 'book' seats in hawker centres, then that is really rare. Haha.

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