Wed, Dec 31, 2008
The New Paper
'Voucher aunties' ask shoppers for supermarket stamps

[Top: Charity- Many shoppers, like the man in red T-shirt, did not seem to mind giving their redeemable stamps away, especially to the more hunchbacked women.]

By Crystal Chan

THEY target customers with several bags of groceries. And they ask - sometimes even beg - for their discount stamps.

Vouchers redeemed with the stamps can be used to buy groceries.

Meet the voucher aunties of Singapore.

The New Paper learnt that they are regulars at ShopN Save supermarkets in Vista Point, a mall in Woodlands, as well as Serangoon Central.

These aunties are usually on the lookout for customers who have bought at least $15 of groceries.

Shop N Save gives stamps to customers who spend at least $15.

Anyone who collects 12 stamps in the same month can get a $9 voucher.

When The New Paper visited the Woodlands mall on Tuesday night, there were three women outside the supermarket.

One appeared able-bodied while the other two were white-haired and had hunched backs.

The able-bodied woman whom this reporter gave her stamp to said she does this as she is old and jobless.

She claimed: 'I'm in my 70s and people say I'm too old to work. There's no one to support me. With the voucher, I can buy rice and other necessities.'

The woman, who redeemed a voucher an hour later, claimed that on some days, she can get three vouchers worth a total of $27.

She said: 'I can buy vegetables, meat and fish.'

One of the hunchbacked women said she is not well-off and, by riding on shoppers' goodwill, she can get free groceries.

She said: 'People tend to pity old folks. Since there's no name on the voucher, there's no harm doing this.

She added: 'I don't force people to give their stamps away if they don't want to.'

Many shoppers did not seem to mind giving away their stamps.

One of them, lift technician Desmond Yang, 25, said: 'They're old and pitiful. To me, I'm doing a kind deed.'

Some shoppers were also discerning as to which woman to give their stamps to.

They turned away from the able-bodied woman, giving their stamps instead to the hunchbacked women nearby.

Madam Ng Geok Choo, 51, a housewife, said: 'The able-bodied woman looks so fit and should be able to find work. The older women need the stamps more.'

But some, like secretary Linda Lim, 34, don't like any of the women being there.

She said: 'It's an ugly sight and I think these women are taking advantage of shoppers.'

A Shop N Save cashier told The New Paper that the women have been there for at least a year.

She said: 'They are here every day. Collecting the stamps has more or less become their job. We just ignore them as it's up to the customers (whether) to give their stamps away.'

This seemingly able-
bodied woman approached this man
after he had paid for his groceries
at Shop N Save at Woodlands.

Employees from neighbouring shops said the women are at the supermarket in the morning and evening.

Ms Cynthia Tan, 35, a hairstylist, said: 'Those are the peak periods for shoppers. The women go for those with a lot of groceries as they are likely to have spent at least $15.'

When The New Paper visited the supermarket's Serangoon Central outlet, there were two other women doing the same thing there.

Madam Lee Sook Mui, 54, a housewife, said she had also been accosted at Shop N Save's Bedok Central branch.

She said: 'I gave my stamp away as I don't go to Shop N Save regularly, so it would be hard to get 12stamps in a month. If someone else needs the stamp more, why not let her have it?'

The situation has sparked a discussion on Internet forum moms4moms.

Some described being accosted by elderly women at Shop N Save outlets in Serangoon Central and West Mall in Bukit Batok.

A netizen called 'mool' wrote on 10 Nov: 'Yesterday just met one outside the SnS (Shop N Save) in West Mall. When I said I don't have any (I spent less than $10 anyway), she started to scold me!

'I was shocked and angry, felt like scolding her back!'

Another using the name 'ice-cream' claimed to have been waylaid by these women at Shop N Save's Serangoon Central branch.

He wrote: 'They follow you around while you shop so that others can see they have already 'booked' you.'

Management aware

When contacted, a spokesman for the Dairy Farm Group, which owns Shop N Save, said the management is aware of the situation.

She said: 'There have been instances when these touts enter our supermarkets to approach shoppers and we've asked them to leave.

'But if the touts stand outside the supermarkets, there's little we can do as they're not on our premises.'

The promotion is into its fourth year.

The spokesman said: 'We discourage shoppers from giving their stamps away because the promotion is meant for them, not the touts.'

"This is great to keep overseas Singaporeans connected to home news and affairs"

"My favourite was "The Aftermath for Malaysia Election" - (in my opinion), this was a very well crafted world standard image, it is even suitable for a Time magazine cover!"
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