The House of Seafood previously found itself in hot water after it introduced a live crab claw machine that left netizens rather crabby about the publicity stunt.
This time, the restaurant found itself hauled over the coals for allegedly selling surgical masks to diners at a price deemed unreasonable by netizens.
In a Facebook post on Feb 9 (which has since been deleted), the eatery had shared that it was selling surgical masks exclusively to diners at $21.40 a box, with each table only allowed to purchase a box.
Except, as it turns out, the Facebook post had come about as a misunderstanding.
Speaking with AsiaOne, the managing director and owner of the business, Francis Ng, revealed that it was never his intention to sell the masks at all.
“My main intention is to give them to my staff and to give to my loyalty customers. (sic)”
In a newsletter sent out to members of the House of Seafood, the restaurant announced that they were distributing free masks at their restaurant and members could collect a pack of three masks each.
Due to the shortage of surgical masks, the restaurant went through several platforms in order to purchase them. As they had paid for air freight and GST, the cost of each box amounted to $21.40, he explained.
While restaurant staff were repackaging the masks for distribution on Sunday night (Feb 9), a diner took notice and asked to purchase a box from them. It was sold to the diner at cost price.
As the business had not been doing well as of late, Ng’s staff thought they could help publicise the restaurant by posting about the sale of masks.
“When I found out about it, I immediately asked them to remove it,” Ng said in Mandarin. “We don’t need that (kind of publicity).”
He mentioned that he might donate extra masks to charity, or if his regular customers want to buy them, “(he) would sell them at cost price of $21.40.”
GOVERNMENT CRACKS DOWN ON MASK PROFITEERS
Just last month, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) cracked down on a shop in Orchard Road which sold masks at a much higher price than normal.
A packet of 10 surgical masks usually costs around $5 and a box of 20 N95 masks costs about $40.
Several e-commerce platforms such as Lazada, Carousell and Qoo10 are also looking out for potential profiteers on their platforms.
“Profiteering is highly irresponsible and damaging in these uncertain times,” the ministry said.
Along with the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) and the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore, the MTI continues to monitor and investigate any unfair and anti-competitive prices.