Duty Free Singapore to discipline staff after customer complains of preferential treatment in sale of whisky

Duty Free Singapore (DFS) said it found "improper behaviour on the part of a few employees and contractors working for DFS" during the sale of a product.
Duty Free Singapore (DFS) said it found "improper behaviour on the part of a few employees and contractors working for DFS" during the sale of a product.PHOTO: DFS

SINGAPORE - Duty Free Singapore (DFS) said it will be taking disciplinary action against employees who acted improperly during the sale of a product. 

The move is in response to a complaint made by customer Andrew Soetiono in a Facebook post on Saturday (May 18). He said he was unsuccessful when he tried to buy a bottle of whisky - specifically Chichibu Ichiro's Malt Single Cask #1767 - that day at the Changi Airport DFS Whisky Festival.

In his post, he said that he and another traveller had both been waiting to buy the whisky when three men - who he said are staff of DFS - came up to the counter and obtained a bottle without having to queue. 

DFS said the product is being released in very small numbers due to limited availability.

Mr Soetiono said he had been waiting since 2.30pm while the other traveller had been waiting since 12pm.

"So we waited and asked the staff there. They said just wait. No guarantee. We waited," he wrote.

He said the three men arrived at around 4pm and the DFS staff appeared to have shown "preferential treatment" to their colleagues.

He added that the staff initially denied selling the product to the men but a staff member later admitted it and told them there were no more bottles available for sale that day.

The bottle costs $450, according to Facebook user Alex Lai who identified himself on Mr Soetiono's post as the other traveller who had been waiting at the store.

DFS Changi (and Cruise Centres) general manager Prashant Mahboobani told The Straits Times in response to queries that the company was aware of the customer complaint on social media about the "allocation of a particularly sought-after bottle of whisky".

He said that all DFS products are available for sale to members of the public as well as DFS employees, but there was "improper behaviour on the part of a few employees and contractors working for DFS" in this incident.

Mr Prashant added: "A full and thorough investigation is underway and appropriate disciplinary action is being taken.

"We apologise to any of our customers who have had difficulty obtaining this particularly sought-after product."

DFS employees are also no longer allowed to purchase this product during the Whisky Festival period, said Mr Prashant, adding that DFS would continue to release only a few bottles each day depending on stock.