Hot over porridge: should we make it compulsory for food stalls to display prices?

How far would you go if you have an unhappy dining experience in a restaurant?

Complain to the manager? Send the food back to the kitchen? Stomp out of the restaurant?

For these four customers who visited Heng Long Teochew Porridge on Saturday (May 27) morning, they flipped the place upside down (almost literally) because they felt that their $28 bill was too expensive.

According to Shin Min Daily, a staff at the shop told the reporter that the group had ordered porridge, pomfret and several side dishes. They were unhappy with their bill and threw their food on the floor. They didn’t stop at that- they also flipped the marble-topped table and shattered it.

The staff also said that the four customers had used the chairs in the eatery to smash the glass surfaces at the serving area.

This was the aftermath:

The customers- three men and one woman- are believed to be drunk. Police investigations into the case are on-going and so far we have only heard the eatery’s side of the story.

The $28 bill does not seem overly expensive for the dishes, which included a fish, that were ordered. And Teochew porridge tend to be more expensive than your regular mixed vegetables rice.

In any case, it is wrong to react in such a way that this group of customers did and being drunk should not be an excuse for the behaviour.

The incident raises a point: maybe we should consider enforcing that food stalls must have a price display for the food they sell.

The transparency of information about the price will help to reduce misunderstandings between the stall and the customer. This is especially so for food stalls that customers can order many add-ons, such as mixed vegetables rice and yong tau foo. It is also less stressful for the customer who is making the order and hoping that it doesn’t add up to a bomb.

The Consumers Association of Singapore made a call to hawkers in 2015 to display the prices of the food they sell prominently.

It doesn’t seem like there has been an update on how many stalls have adhered to the call or if more hawker stalls are doing so.

Perhaps, we should make it compulsory for food stalls and eateries to have a price display instead of leaving them to decide if they want to do it.

Because eating should not be an angry affair.