Maxwell Road Hawker Centre by Aapo Haapanen
‘Maxwell Road Hawker Centre’ photograph by Aapo Haapanen. It is a different hawker center from the one mentioned in today’s post.

While having lunch at Teck Ghee Hawker Center today, I had an unpleasant experience of dealing with a mistake that a seller made. I was absolutely sure that I paid the seller with a ten-dollar note but he insisted that he received a five-dollar note from me. It was only when my friend stepped in to clarify the situation, did he grudgingly gave me the rest of my change, without even uttering an apology of any sorts.

I was furious! But no point arguing further with that uncle. I’m there to enjoy lunch with my friend, not to pick a fight.

This is not the first time I met with such a situation. I attribute this to the seller not “being present” when receiving payments from a customer. This could be avoided if they can just take a bit of time to follow these four simple steps, inspired by my parents (they worked as Hawker sellers since I was a baby) and the Japanese customer service I received:

  1. Upon receiving money from the customer, count it first and repeat the amount received to the customer for verification.
  2. When giving change, tell the customer the amount of change you will be giving him.
  3. Present the notes first, tell him the amount of notes you are giving him and ask him to keep the notes first.
  4. Present the coins and tell him the amount of coins you are giving him.

When you do that, you do not have to worry about coins dropping all over the place as you hand the change over to the customer too.

BONUS TIP: If steps 2 to 4 seems a hassle, use a Japanese cash tray to hand the change over to the customer. It is also more hygienic to do so.