Serangoon hawker returns money after customer pays $700 for $7 meal

The accidental $700 transaction was made at Tian Jin Fong Kee.
PHOTO: Lianhe Zaobao, Google maps/HF Lei

William Fong was checking the electronic payment transactions for his hawker stall on Tuesday (March 14) night when he noticed something was amiss. 

Someone had transferred $700 via PayLah that evening for a meal that was only $7 — $693 more than they were supposed to pay. 

Surprised by this discovery, the 52-year-old who runs dumpling stall Tian Jin Fong Kee, took to Facebook group Hawkers United - Dabao 2020 in an attempted to find the customer. 

Two days later, the customer surnamed Li came back to the stall and Fong returned the balance to her, he said in an update on Facebook. 

Besides thanking those who pitched in with finding the customer, the hawker said there is something for everyone to learn from this incident. 

"For the IT service providers, it is good to standardised the format for keying in the amount. For customers, please check before you make payment.

"For hawkers, please help to double-check the payment details to prevent errors. For Nets, a hotline will work better for hawkers than email. For banks, a hotline will work better for hawkers other than going to the bank," he said. 

Speaking to Lianhe Zaobao, Fong explained that it usually takes longer to process a refund through Nets or a bank. Hence, he decided to turn to Facebook to try and find the customer. 

He also said he didn't disclose his stall's name in the social media post because he didn't want dishonest people to "try their luck". 

When Li turned up at his stall to claim her money, Fong also verified her transaction records to confirm she was the customer who had overpaid before returning her the balance. 

Customer grateful for hawker's honesty 

Li told the Chinese daily that she is grateful for the hawker's honesty. 

The 55-year-old woman said she only realised she had paid an extra $693 for her food after she received an email notification with the bank transfer details. 

While Li is a frequent user of e-payment, she said some of these platforms require users to enter decimal points. 

She admitted that she was careless when she keyed in the amount during payment and hence transferred $700 instead of $7 to Fong. 

While Li had a shock from this incident, she told Zaobao it will not deter her from continuing to use e-payment, adding that she will double-check payment details in future. 

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