The good and bad of Singapore's service culture: Some notable incidents

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has urged Singaporeans to strive towards service excellence, admitting that the country's service culture was still not up to par.

He cited the infamous Sim Lim Square incident in November 2014, when the owner of a mobile phone shop was slammed online when a video of him treating a Vietnamese tourist poorly went viral.

We look at back at some notable cases - good and bad - involving both service staff and customers.

THE BAD

Rude passenger verbally abuses taxi driver

Service1

In March, a Facebook video of a rude passenger abusing a taxi driver made waves online. It was uploaded by the cabbie's daughter, who condemned the man's behaviour.

In the clip, the passenger could be heard raising his voice and scolding the driver even before his journey had started.

Read about the incident here.

Pizza Hut customer branded 'fat' by staff

Service2

A female customer ordering takeaway at the pizza chain's Bukit Merah outlet in October 2014 got a rude shock when she found the words "Pink Fat Lady" on her receipt.

She wrote a post on Pizza Hut Singapore's Facebook page to complain about the incident, prompting an apology from the restaurant.

Find out what transpired here.

KOI cafe employee allegedly scolds customer

Koi1

The popular bubble tea chain was in the spotlight in October 2014 following an incident at its KOI Express branch in Boon Lay MRT station.

Ms Gia Munaji Salamat, who was getting a drink there with her husband, alleged in a Facebook video that an employee had hurled vulgarities and insults at her.

See what happened next here.

Starbucks customer's online rant backfires

Service4

Someone should have told student Huixin Yap that posting a rant on the coffee chain's Facebook page complaining about its staff removing her belongings from her seat after she had been gone for half an hour was probably a very bad idea.

The ill-advised move, which happened in October 2014, earned widespread censure from netizens and triggered a debate over the ongoing problem of seat-hogging at food and drinks establishments.

Full story here.

Sim Lim Square shop owner shortchanges Vietnamese tourist

Service5

Mr Jover Chew, the owner of a mobile phone shop at Sim Lim Square, hogged the headlines in November 2014 when he made Vietnamese tourist Pham Van Thoai kneel down to beg for a refund for an iPhone6 he bought at the shop.

Mr Chew had allegedly tried to scam Mr Pham and even filmed the tearful tourist's plea.

The whole saga here.

THE GOOD

Efficient SMRT staff retrieve man's $50 note

Service6

It was a very happy Chinese New Year's eve this year for Indian national Nishal John Vethanayagam, who praised staff of the transport operator for quickly retrieving his $50 note.

Mr Vethanayagam was riding up the escalator at Novena MRT station when the note slipped into the gap between the escalator's steps and metal sides.

Read his story here.

Taxi driver goes the extra mile to return customer's bag

Service7

Veteran Transcab driver Oh Kim Beng was so determined to return a bag which a 13-year-old passenger had left in his vehicle that he knocked on over 20 doors at a condominium in an attempt to find the owner.

The incident, which happened in April, was covered by several newspapers including The Straits Times.

Read about the happy ending here.

Cabbie lends $20 to passenger who forgot wallet

Service8

Taxi driver Mr Lim's kind gesture of lending actor Eden Ang $20 when the latter realised he had forgotten to bring his wallet touched Mr Ang so much that he wrote about it on Facebook.

Mr Ang's post was shared by then-Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, who wrote: "Hope that we can be inspired. Every starfish counts."

More details here.