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Thursday, October 6, 2022
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Penang hawker centre charges 50sen to customers who do not buy a drink when having a meal there

When you are taking a seat in the coffee shop, it is expected that you at least spend at least a dime. However, what if the customers do not order any drinks?

Speaking to The Star, coffee shop owner Micah Ooi said he does not mind patrons occupying a table without ordering drinks, but it soon becomes a habit. He explained that many would come in and order food from the hawker stalls, but not spending a single sen for a drink.

Feeling frustrated, Ooi decided to put up a sign telling those who don’t order drinks that they must pay a 50 sen fee per person.

“Sometimes, up to five customers would sit at a table without ordering any drinks.”

“Most of these customers were tourists and I felt they should order something at the very least,” he said during the interview.

In Penang, it appears that it has become a standard move for coffee shops to ask for a full ringgit as the “pitstop charge” if no drinks are ordered.

Ooi said as he could not force customers to order drinks, he hope imposing this will encourage customers to have empathy and support his business. In return, he said he will ensure they are not disappointed by his hospitality.

Meanwhile, Ooi explains that he only sells drinks and other food stall owners there pay him rent.

“When a customer pays 50sen if they do not have any drinks, I serve them plain water in return.”

Source: Facebook

“It is fine if only a few from the entire group at a table order drinks. At least it helps to cover my costs and work to upkeep the place.”

“Since I placed the sign to serve as a reminder, many customers have developed a better understanding and we respect each other more,” he said.

He added that another food court in the area has a heftier charge for customers who do not order any drinks – it’s RM1 there, but the practice was to deter people from sitting for free.

In his coffee shop, he placed stickers on every table to ensure all customers see them.

“Many customers come to order food and leave the tables dirty for our waiters to clean up. A cup of water costs 60sen so customers can choose to order this instead of paying RM1 for nothing.”

“We just wish to use that rule to spell it out, and it is their choice,” she said.

Meanwhile, a customer said he understands why coffee shops are practising this.

“I can understand why. During peak hours, it is hard to find places to sit when there are many customers.”

“Some customers would sit for long hours and take up the space that others could use to eat and help the business generate more income.”

“I believe it is fair as the price is stated clearly,” he said.

What do you think about this? Share your thoughts!

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