FairPrice Online: A frustrating experience

The upside of FairPrice Online is its lower prices, so the grocery bill came up to $43.14 for eight items. Including a delivery charge of $10.70, the total bill was $53.84.
The upside of FairPrice Online is its lower prices, so the grocery bill came up to $43.14 for eight items. Including a delivery charge of $10.70, the total bill was $53.84.ST PHOTO: DANIEL NEO

GROCERY LIST

• Rice (5kg SongHe Thai rice, $14.50)

• Chicken (fresh chicken unavailable, replaced with 2kg Frangosul frozen chicken cuts (whole leg), $9.90)

• Ginger (old ginger unavailable, replaced with 200g Pasar young ginger, $1.39)

• Pandan leaves (unavailable)

• Chinese parsley (unavailable)

• Chicken rice paste (370g Prima Taste Hainanese Chicken Rice, $6.90)

• Chicken rice chilli (330g Sin Sin Ginger Garlic Chilli, $1.75)

• Ginger paste (174g Soup Restaurant Samsui ginger sauce, $6.80)

• Dark sauce (320ml Tai Hua standard dark soya sauce, $1.25)

• Cucumber (three cucumbers in a value pack, $0.65)

• Delivery: $10.70 for orders below $60, and $7.49 for orders above that; $26.75 for bulk orders of more than 600 items.

• Total : $43.14 for eight items and, with a $10.70 delivery fee, the bill came up to $53.84.

ORDERING

Ordering from FairPrice Online was a frustrating experience, with a scattershot search function that pulls up seemingly every product that is remotely related to the search term. For example, a search for "chicken rice chilli" gave me 370 hits, most of which were completely useless.

The first three items that appeared were Chilli brand rice vermicelli, chicken-flavoured Maggi instant porridge and chicken- and abalone-flavoured Koka instant noodles.

Even after narrowing down the search by selecting the groceries and condiment categories, I was still left with 67 items. The large number of search results cannot be explained by having a lot of items to list - about 5,500 on FairPrice Online, compared to the over 14,000 on RedMart.

FairPrice Online does not stock fresh meat, so I tried ordering frozen meat instead.

But when I tried doing so last Tuesday, even the whole frozen chicken was out of stock, and I was left with a choice of frozen chicken parts. There was also no fresh pandan leaves, and no fresh Chinese parsley.

The upside of FairPrice Online is its lower prices. The value pack of cucumbers I ordered cost only $0.65 for three. The next cheapest cucumber was from honestbee, where I purchased two cucumbers from Cold Storage for $1.13.

DELIVERY

I had a delivery window of four hours, from 10am to 2pm. The goods arrived at 11.20am.

The groceries were delivered in FairPrice plastic bags, with breakable goods such as glass bottles wrapped tightly in another plastic bag for cushioning, which was a nice touch. None of the other services wrapped up their breakable goods in such a manner.

The fresh vegetables looked crisp, although one of the cucumbers was not washed well. There was a clod of soil in the packet which, with the condensation inside the plastic packet, resulted in an unsightly brown liquid floating around in the packaging.

Although this does not render the cucumbers inedible, it probably would not have happened if I had used a grocery concierge service, such as honestbee, that selects your goods by hand.

Lisabel Ting

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2015, with the headline 'FairPrice Online: A frustrating experience'. Print Edition | Subscribe