Bishan seafood stand will charge service charge and GST, diners worried others will follow

Bishan Seafood Stall will charge service fees and GST at all 15 Singapore branches

Seafood stalls in kopitiams are popular with Singaporeans for their wide variety of affordable produce. zi char dishes.

We are also assured that we know that what we order is approximately what we will pay, at no additional cost.

However, that is about to change at a seafood stand in Bishan when it imposes a service charge and a Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Source: Shin Min Daily News on Facebook

The move has caused some diners to fear that other stalls will follow.

A seafood stand will charge a fee from August 1

The stand in question is FuLee Seafood at Block 120 Bishan Street 12, the Shin Min Daily News reported.

It is located in kopiiam BS120 Makan Hub in the block.

Recently, a notice appeared on the stand, informing customers that they will charge service fees and GST from Monday (August 1).

Source: Shin Min Daily News on Facebook

He also added that the service charge will be paid only by restaurant customers.

The notice was published on Wednesday (July 27), staff told the newspaper.

Additional charges will apply at all outlets

FuLee Seafood has a total of 15 outlets in Singapore.

Ms. Wu Yujiao, the stall owner, told Shin Min that the additional fee will apply to all of their outlets from August 1.

Source: Google Maps

According to the FuLee Group Facebook page, their stalls can be found in places like Woodlands, Sengkang, Bukit Merah, Tampines, Bukit Batok and Hougang.

Service charges at kopitiam unheard of

Of course, any news of rising food prices would worry Singaporeans already struggling with inflation.

Paying a service fee to a kopitiam is also almost unheard of.

After all, most would expect to pay a service charge at a restaurant with a more comfortable environment, such as air conditioning.

But part of the appeal of eating at a kopitiam seafood stand is the no-frills experience of knowing you’re paying exactly the price listed on the menu — at least until August 1.

As for the GST, most Singaporeans are aware that it is levied when a company’s turnover exceeds S$1 million.

Seafood stall owner explains service charges

Regular customers are probably wondering why the stand is doing this.

Ms Wu told Shin Min that tax returns filed last year showed their turnover was close to S$1 million.

It is expected to exceed that amount this year, which is why they got approval from the authorities to charge 7% GST.

Source: FuLee group on Facebook

As for service charges, Ms. Wu said, according to regulations, food establishments do not need to include GST in their listed prices.

However, they should impose a service charge if that is the case, she added.

Seafood stand service fee set at 0.1%

As the authorities did not specify the amount of the service charge to be levied, Ms. Wu decided to set it at a symbolic 0.1%.

She pointed out that’s less than what restaurants charge, which is usually 10%.

Saying that “of course”, she is afraid the extra charge will scare away customers, but maintained that there was no other choice.

To retain customers and give back, the stand will round all invoices over S$50 to the nearest dollar.

For example, if a table places an order of S$51.80, they will only pay S$51.

Mixed reactions from guests

However, diners who spoke to Shin Min had mixed reactions to the extra charge.

A 67-year-old pensioner, Mr Yang, said he did not understand why there should be a service charge.

He was also afraid that other seafood stalls would follow suit, once they saw what FuLee was doing. Thus, he indicated that he could visit other stands if he ultimately had to pay more.

Source: Google Maps

A 27-year-old engineer named Yang felt the extra charges were a disguised price hike. He felt that if a stand charged a service fee, it should provide a commensurate service.

Finally, the 60-year-old waiter, Mr. Zhang, said he would accept the service charge if it wasn’t too high, because everything is going up anyway.

Service fees are the responsibility of the company

Ms. Wu, the owner, denied that the extra charge was a disguised price hike.

Dr. Walter Theseira, an associate professor at the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), pointed out that the service charge is not a government tax but a kind of industry practice.

According to the tax guidelines, the government only stipulates that operators clearly distinguish between the different charges.

However, it is up to the company to decide the service fee.

Ms. Chen, owner of another zi char booth at Toa Payoh, worried that a service charge would affect the flow of customers, especially since the crowds have just returned.

She said customers might donate a few dollars on their own if they like the service, but they’d be disgusted if the company actually levied such a charge.

Let the market decide

At the end of the day, the stand has every right to charge extra if they want to – they would have had their reasons for doing so.

Now it’s really up to the market, that is, their customers, to vote with their feet, and decide whether they’ll accept it or not.

Considering that the price of almost everything is going up these days, a nice zi char dinner unfortunately could soon be another extravaganza that we cannot afford.

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Featured image adapted from Shin Min Daily News on Facebook.