Would you want to know how much the wanton mee (ed: the dialect spelling for 云吞面 is actually supposed to be wonton instead of the omniscient wanton that we see everyday, unless of course the wonton is provocative; sorry, digress again) in your neighbourhood sells for? Not just the nearby coffee shop, but all the coffee shops in your neighbourhood. Wait, make that all the coffee shops in Singapore (Johor and some say Batam?).

While I’m sure the Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE) meant well… but if they are only going to compare on price, I wonder how effective it really will be, since stall owners can now cut down on quantity, or worse, quality – to give you that cheapest plate of wanton mee (sic) in your neighbourhood. At the end of the day, my take is that if the food is nice and price is reasonable, people will flock to your stall. Of course, having it cheap is a bonus, if not, then a reasonable price will do just as well.

And if the food is really good, but expensive, then it’ll just be a blue moon thing. Speaking of which, I’m hungry now… shucks…

FROM next month onwards, you can find out online just how much your favourite hawker dish should cost at your neighbourhood hawker centre or coffeeshop.

The Consumer Association of Singapore (Case)  will be publishing a survey of prices of food sold at cooked food stalls on its website next month, to help consumers make price comparisons.

Consumers can get data such as the average price of 10 popular dishes – from chicken rice to mee rebus in each neighbourhood.

The guide will also list the highest and lowest prices for each dish at stalls.

Over 30 mystery shoppers will visit stalls across the island for two weeks next month to carry out the survey.

Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, president of Case, said this will not only give transparency to the prices and help consumers make better choices, but also deter hawkers from profiteering.

‘We don’t have an idea of how widespread profiteering is. This survey will give us an understanding of the magnitude of the problem,’ said Mr Yeo.

The consumer watchdog is concerned that some hawkers are raising prices as an excuse to cover higher costs of raw ingredients, such as rice and noodles.

This comes as the Ministry of Trade and Industry noted that more hawkers have raised their prices in the last two months.

Minister of Trade and Industry Lee Yi Shyan told Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao on Monday that 65 per cent of hawkers have maintained prices.

Two months ago, the ministry said it was 75 per cent.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry conducts price checks on 1,271 randomly chosen stalls in hawker centres and markets. Every two weeks, six to seven officers fan out to track price increases at these stalls.

Case has received 14 complaints on overcharging at hawker centres and coffeeshops since January, compared to 38 such calls for the whole of last year.

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 15th April 2008

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