Kopitiam on Case's beer price hike survey: Rival operator charges 'more'

Food centre operator Kopitiam Investment has taken on the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) for labelling two of its coffee shops with the steepest beer price rise.

It has cited a rival coffee shop charging even more. In an e-mail to Case's executive director Seah Seng Choon on Thursday, Kopitiam wrote: "We have earlier provided you with a receipt for a bottle of Tiger beer retailing at $7.90 at a newly-opened outlet, but do not know why Case has chosen not to include beer prices which are comparatively higher than our beer prices in your surveys."

Kopitiam declined to name the other outlet.

A Kopitiam spokesman told The New Paper that the "revision of our prices was based on our own assessment of market response, as well as competitors' pricing". The operator also said its prices during and after the survey were within suppliers' recommended retail prices of $6.20 to $6.80 per bottle.

The dispute arose after Case released a beer price hike survey on Wednesday.

In the survey, which used mystery shoppers and was done between Feb 28 and March 3, Case had said a Serangoon North Kopitiam outlet sold a big bottle of Tiger beer at $1.30 more following the 25 per cent hike in excise duties for liquor. Another Kopitiam outlet in Simei charged $1.20 more, it added.

The two Kopitiam outlets top Case's survey list of 11, all of which were subjects of consumer complaints over steep price hikes.

Added the spokesman: "For example, Case featured our outlet at Block 3, Lorong Liew Lian in their survey.

"Case advised that they were unable to obtain our original price for comparison. We would like to put on record that our beer price per bottle before the tax hike was $5.70 and after the tax hike, it is retailing at $6.

"It was an increase of 30 cents only. This price was determined based on market situation." Case said that while its numbers are no longer current, they were still accurate and aimed at helping consumers find value for money.

'PUZZLED'

Replying to Kopitiam on Thursday, Case executive director, Mr Seah, said: "Although we are glad you lowered your price, I am puzzled.

"In a ShinMin report dated February 26 and a TNP report dated March 1, when Kopitiam was asked about pricing your beer at $6.80, you explained that your supplier had increased the cost of supplying beer to you.

"When you reduced your price below $6.80 subsequently, are you saying now that you actually could have priced your beer below $6.80 in late February and early March given that the supplier cost has not changed since the excise tax was imposed?"

Six other coffee shops also raised their prices by more than 41 cents, the amount calculated by the Ministry of Finance as fully passing on the duty hike, added the survey

zothman@sph.com.sg


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