Saturday, 10 March 2012

Bad Rude Service @ Taste Original Organic Mart HarbourFront Centre

This morning, I was very happy when a parcel arrived with my DVDs:  Star Trek The Next Generation and MacGyver, complete series boxed sets that I've been waiting for.

A very coincidental circumstance and lucky break had enabled me to buy them from a guy online in Taiwan.

I was going to talk about it, if I hadn't been so upset with the rude staff at Taste Original Organic Mart @ Harbourfront.

The shop has now earned the honor of being posted here.  Free publicity for them.

Previously, when I walked into the shop once, I was never impressed because the staff and items look "China". The items are cheap compared to other organic shops selling US/UK organic products, but that's because their stock is from Taiwan/China and nearby Asian countries.

They do have US items, but just some. Whereas other organic shops sell US/UK items, but few Asian.

In a way, selling Chinese/Asian merchandise is better, because they are familiar to use for our usual Chinese cooking.

To be honest, after buying from them a few times, I was intending to go there everyday for fresh organic vegetables and other items.

Today would have been my 6th purchase (I didn't even realize it's been so many times until posting here), if the woman staff hadn't been so rude.

I was so upset, I put everything back and walked out.

The first time I bought something from the shop, was some days ago--Dr Bronner's Magic Liquid Rose Soap that I reviewed here. (I found out just tonight that the pharmacy at Liang Court basement also sells it at the same price).

While browsing the shelf, I accidentally dropped the plastic cap of a small facial cream jar onto the wooden flooring, and a Taiwanese/China woman quickly came over from the front, asking in Chinese with a smile, "可以嗎?", meaning 'Are you Ok (with handling the items)?'.

I was thinking it didn't bode well, when a staff rushes like that to see if anything has been broken. However, since she was polite about it, I wasn't bothered.

Second time at the shop, I bought a Badger Foot Balm for $11.90 after seeing it online. Was going to post about it here, but didn't/haven't (photos already taken). A poor foot balm that doesn't work even though it's expensive. (Yesterday, I saw it also selling at Unity @ ARC and wished I had bought from there instead of crappy Taste Original).

It was also the first time I met the white-powdered-faced woman whom I assumed is the lady boss. Didn't like the look of her face, and turned out I was right. However, she seemed nice at that time.

So far, the feeling of being in the shop, hadn't been good. Their welcome was cold. There's no feeling of being welcomed, even though they greet entering customers. But since it seemed Ok, I continued dropping by.

They have 3 staff there--the white-powdered-faced woman, a younger Taiwanese/China woman with black-framed spectacles, and a man.

Third time, I bought a packet of fresh Golden Cap mushrooms. The freshest I've ever seen. It's very difficult to get fresh mushrooms these days from the supermarkets. I was also going to post about them here, but haven't/didn't (though photos already taken).

Fourth time, 2 days ago, bought fresh spinach, a packet of sweet radish from Thailand (usually it's from China) and Raspberry Leaf Tea.

Fifth time, yesterday, bought a packet of chocolate butter biscuits and Hibiscus Flowers (for tea). The Taiwanese/China woman said since I liked fruity teas, she was giving me 2 fruit tea sachets to try from a box they had already opened for their own use.

I asked whether there was organic bread, and she considered what day it was. Then she said to drop by the next day (Sat). They would have bread made in Singapore, in different flavors (Blueberry etc...) and US chilled/frozen organic bread.

It sounded to me, the organic bread came only on Sat, which could mean they didn't have enough customers (to purchase on weekdays). 

Since I was surprised there was such a thing as organic bread, let alone made in Singapore and what's more in different flavors, I had to see it. So, I told her I'll drop by again the next day.

Today, Sat, I wanted to buy fresh vegetables (Kailan) for dinner tonight, organic bread and see what else they got.

I guessed the organic bread might not have arrived yet (it was already past 12pm, but small shops are usually slow).

From their fridge, I chose a packet of organic Kailan (from local organic farm Quan Fa), then saw they had fresh Driscoll's strawberries from USA for $12.90. I thought it was cheap considering Cold Storage always charges more. (I found out tonight, it costs $9.90 at Meidi-ya supermarket at Liang Court, and bought it after choosing).).

I took the first box in my hand and noticed a few looked overripe. So I looked in the fridge for a better one. There were only 6 boxes in there and I looked at 5 of them, one at time, putting them back as they were.

There was a last box at the end, stacked below the one on top. As it seemed inconvenient to take out, I almost left it alone. But not fully satisfied with the rest, I reached in and carefully took it out. It was the best one.

That's when the Taiwanese/China woman came and asked in Chinese if it was Ok, then added, "These just came in last night.". 

Not knowing what she was getting at, I replied in Chinese, "Yes, they are very fresh.".

But she continued as if I hadn't spoken, raising her voice in Chinese as she spoke, "They are all the same. You don't need to 挖 (dig) inside.". 

She emphasized the word "dig". This was not right and offensive. 

1) I was choosing and looking, not digging.
2)  As a customer, I have a right to choose what I buy. 
3) I did not damage anything and even took care to handle gently.
4) She as a service staff, should not be speaking in that tone of voice and with those words to a customer.

I explained in Chinese that some of the strawberries were overripe and that's why I was choosing. I said the word "overripe" in English. 

She wasn't listening but instead continued in Chinese, "It's all weighed according to what's stated there. The number of strawberries are based on weight. Some contain fewer and some more, but they are based on weight.".

I repeated that some of the strawberries look too ripe, that's why... 

Yet she continued on about the weight.  I told my bro who was standing beside me, that she didn't get what I mean. She didn't even understand the word "overripe".

In hindsight, I think she wasn't listening because she was venting her temper. Blinded by her anger. Angry at a customer and showing it with tone and words that should not have been used.  

This is not just a misunderstanding. 

How could she use the insulting word "dig"? How could she even have been hired? Or is she the owner of the shop? 

If she is hired help, then it is the employer's fault for hiring someone who cannot understand simple English and thereby offending the customer. 

Is this the way Taste Original Pte Ltd treats its customers? The staff saying whatever they like and venting their temper on customers? 

Thanks to Taste Original for showing me this early, so I can stop spending money at your shop early. Congrats to turning a regular customer into a 'no customer' who don't want to enter your shop ever again. 

After the Taiwanese/China woman finished, I walked towards another aisle, still holding the box of strawberries, and saw the white-faced woman standing behind a tall metal shelf just opposite the fridge. 

She must have seen and heard everything. Since Bro thought I was still interested in the organic bread that he observed wasn't in the shop, he asked me to enquire. I wasn't interested anymore, but when I asked the woman, she slid such an unhappy and unsmiling face in my direction without looking at me, and said it hadn't arrived.

Assuming she is the lady boss, shouldn't she have reprimanded the staff for being so rude to a customer? Instead she just stood there? 

So, she allows her staff to do that? Or perhaps, even asked the staff to do it?

As I stood in the other aisle, considering the lovely strawberries in my hand, I didn't see how lovely they were anymore. Instead, I could only see what the woman said. 

Bro said, "If you're Ok with it, then buy. If not happy, don't buy. No obligation.". (Later back home, he said at first I was still smiling, but my face became more and more unhappy as I considered the strawberries). 

I was smiling or seemed to, because I wasn't angry at the time. I find it difficult to be angry with imbeciles and tend to be slow to anger. 

I said loud enough, pointing my finger to the left, "It's her I'm not happy...".

He said, "Then don't buy.".

With that, I walked back to the fridge, put back the strawberries. Then opened the other fridge door, put back the Kailan nicely, aware that the moment I turned away, the Taiwanese/China woman quickly re-opened the fridge door to fuss over it.

As I walked out, I said loudly to bro, "Ok, come, let's go!", feeling quite happy that thank goodness, I didn't spend any money there.

I think another person would have shouted back at the Taiwanese/China woman for her insult. How could she talk like that to a customer? How dare she.

And I was even nice enough to put everything back. I could have just left them on a shelf and walked out.

Bro told me if it were him, he would have put back the strawberries and walked out. He said he should have scolded that woman for me, but at that time I didn't seem angry. (Actually, I'd have preferred if he shouted at her for me, since it takes me a while to explode. If it had been my Taiwanese guy friend with me, he might have told her off on the spot.). 

Bro said it's not surprising for such small shops to be picky, stingy and calculative about their products, when they have no customers and no money. Their stock becomes more precious than the customers.

I said in that case, they should just hug their stock and don't let customers touch or choose. That way, they can have their stock all to themselves.

With lack of money, all the more they should treat customers well. How can they still chase away the money they need?

Bro said he has also experienced such rude and even ruder staff at small electrical and printing shops. The electrical shops have no customers, and a few of the printing shops have either closed down or down-sized.

As of now, I've found the companies supplying the shop.

Since bro and I enjoy the sweet minced radish from Thailand, we'll try ordering direct from    (I saw their company sticker on the packaging).

This radish goes well with eggs. In Hokkien, it's called "Cai Por". 

As for the fresh organic vegetables and fruits, we can also order online, direct from the Quan Fa farm (I saw their company name and address printed on the vegetables' packaging).  They have a convenient ordering form at their website and even have goat's milk. (Zenxin's organic vegetables sold at Giant supermarket, are strangely bitter).

Thanks to the Internet, companies are now reaching out directly to consumers. 

While Taste Original recognizes the power of the Internet to have put up their website, they fail to see that bad service and bad attitude can affect business also through the Internet. 

If I wanted, I could even pay to put up Google ads to "help publicize" their shop.

It is doubtful a business can continue built on such bad service and attitude. I'm sure I'm not the only customer they have offended.

While some of their stock are fresh or new, they have 2 year-old organic toothpastes, old-looking and expensive cans of drinking powders sitting on the shelves, and unsold "fresh" vegetables and fruits.

1 comment:

kelly said...

Good post! Rude employees should be shamed!