To stay ahead, get our service right

To stay ahead, get our service right

My family had lunch at a Japanese restaurant in Bugis Junction on Sunday, where a waiter spilt a cup of hot tea on my brother-in-law and me.

My brother-in-law cried out in pain. Two young waiters and a waitress - presumably students working during their holiday break - were standing by, but all remained silent, including the teenager who spilt the hot tea on us.

There was not one word of concern or apology. Neither were we offered napkins; I got them myself. No one told my brother-in-law where to find a restroom, until I asked a staff member at another restaurant.

In the end, my brother-in-law had to wash his shirt and dry it in the toilet.

Later, we went to BHG to buy a pair of trousers. I was not interested in a particular brand of jeans, whose price was the same as that for a pair of Levi's jeans next door.

But the Filipino saleswoman had previously made my mother feel welcome, so she insisted that we look at the jeans there.

The saleswoman was indeed friendly and helpful, and I ended up buying a pair of jeans.

We do not plan to lodge claims against the restaurant. Any belated apology from the management or meal vouchers will not make us return.

My point is that employers should not have to teach workers to say "sorry" if they spill hot drinks on people - that is common sense.

It seems the younger generation has not been taught to be polite. Waiting at tables and doing sales are basic service jobs, but can our young people compete against foreigners? If they lack social skills, how can they excel in high-level jobs?

The example set by the Filipino saleswoman serves as a warning. Singapore has a better brand name than the Philippines now, but our workers are overpriced and have a poor attitude.

Can we stay ahead?

Goh Chen Fong

This article was first published on December 6, 2014.
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