We're just doing our job, say beer promoters

THEY may have been given a bad name, but beer promoters here say they are just doing their job.

A 43-year-old promoter who wanted to be known only as Qing Qing, said she started selling beer about two years ago to support her daughter who just graduated from university.

The Chinese national works six days a week from 6pm to 11pm, earning $35 per shift, excluding commission and tips. She chats with customers, asks them if they want a bottle of beer and pours the drink for them.

Occasionally, she encounters drunk customers who scold her for being inattentive or slow in serving them. "Usually I just stay away. I won't ask them to buy more beer if I sense that they are already tipsy."

Customers may also try to touch her hand when she serves them, but that is as far as it gets, she said.

There are about 600 beer promoters here. Many come from China, Malaysia and Vietnam, and their ages range from 20s to 40s.

Hawkers said promoters are paid about $1,000 a month by breweries and earn a commission of five cents to 10 cents a bottle.

Competition for beer sales can get stiff when there is more than one promoter around. "They have to move really quick so as to make sure they get the customer the moment he sits down," said a beer promoter in her 30s.

Qing Qing is aware of the impression some may have of her job, but maintains that she is just here to make an honest living.

For instance, she constantly refills her customers' beer glasses as it is a job requirement, not because she wants them to buy more beer. "What you do is your own business. I don't bother about what others say," she said.

CAROLYN KHEW