Coffee shop zi char chain announces it's implementing GST and service charge, customers cry foul

FuLee Seafood's zi char stalls will have both service charges and goods and sales tax come August this year.
PHOTO: Shin Min Daily News

This zi char chain is serving up more than just food — they're dishing out service charges and goods and services tax (GST) as well.

FuLee Seafood will be charging service charge and GST starting this August for most of its 14 outlets islandwide, according to its website

The service charge is only applicable for dine-in customers. 

Speaking to some diners at the chain's Bishan Street 12 outlet, Shin Min Daily News reported yesterday (July 29) that some expressed concern regarding the increased prices, stating that it may start a trend where other zi char stalls follow suit and include service charges, which are typically only seen in restaurants or air-conditioned eateries.

The implementation of GST was understandable for most diners the Chinese daily spoke to, and they were generally aware that a company has to register for GST when its taxable turnover exceeds $1 million at the end of the calendar year or if it's expected to exceed $1 million in the next 12 months.

But this shift might be a turn-off for some of FuLee's patrons.

"If this stall starts charging these two fees, that means I'll have to pay more, so I'll visit other places in the future!" a 67-year-old diner told Shin Min Daily News.

Said another 27-year-old diner who felt that FuLee was trying to raise their prices unreasonably: "If a stall charges a service fee, then it should provide an equivalent amount of service."

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Another patron, a 60-year-old waiter, added that price increases are acceptable so long as the service fees are not exorbitant.

Explaining the move, a spokesperson for FuLee Group's told the newspaper that the service fees were "nominal" and that the GST was an unavoidable requirement.

Their taxable turnover was close to $1 million the last financial year and they predicted it would exceed $1 million this year, so they had to make the shift towards including GST, she said.

Additionally, FuLee is only planning to implement a 0.1 per cent service charge — a far cry from the usual 10 per cent that most eateries levy.

"Of course I'm worried that some customers won't visit our stalls in the future and that this will affect our business, but we have no choice," she said.

FuLee also said that it would give back to customers. Starting next month, bills above $50 will be rounded down to the nearest dollar. 

READ ALSO: 40% price hike for Hawker Chan's roast pork rice shocks regular customer

khooyihang@asiaone.com