I am looking at a chit from the Tanglin Club for a mixed orange and watermelon juice, no ice. The price? $3.05 with GST. The wait person brings it to my table. The glass is quite nice, not crystal but passable.
I think back to the same concoction I’ve been drinking on and off at food courts, especially at the TTSH Kopitiam, in recent weeks. The price is $3 and it is self-service. You queue up for it and the wait aunties are at best brusque, if not downright rude or “jahat” as my maid would describe them.
So does it mean Tanglin Club is underpricing its mixed juice or that the food court is over-pricing the same product?
I can’t decide. First, because with the club, there’s the monthly subs (around $100) to factor into the drink, so the real price would be higher, albeit only slightly, than the chit’s $3.05.
Then, there’s the question of ambience. An exclusive club should, indeed must, have better ambience than a food court, or else why would any one in his right mind join a club?
Speaking of “exclusive” club privileges reminds me of the joining fees which one must fork out to become a member. Even tho interest rates are at rock bottom, the thousands of $ one must cough up to be admitted in the first place (plus the opportunity costs) must also be taken into consideration when comparing club prices with foodcourt prices, be4 one declares that it’s cheaper to eat at the club than in a foodcourt or a restaurant.
On the plus side is that one doesn’t need to fork out cash when consuming food and drinks at one’s club. There is always some 30 days or so worth of credit be4 the monthly bill arrives. In a foodcourt, no cash, no talk. But then again with the low cost of money nowadays, it’s a negligible +.
The biggest minus against foodcourts is its perceived no-class or hoi polloi status. Aside from the TTSH doctors and other medical staff who treat the Kopitiam as a staff canteen, most other people who eat or have a drink there do it out of resignation than choice.
But because people have no choice but to eat there — patients and caregivers of patients or anxious visitors — Kopitiam’s prices needn’t be competitive. Hence it’s able to charge neck-and-neck with a place like Tanglin Club and yet not be afraid of losing business to other food outlets.
Still, after much observation, I managed to find a way to extract better value as a captve customer.
Watching one young man ahead of me in the queue ask for orange juice with no ice, I noticed that he paid just $2.50. More importantly, the auntie used 2.5 oranges to make the juice, compared to the one slice of orange and loads of pre-juiced watermelon that I got for the mixed orange watermelon juice!!
So I converted to a straight orange juice gal! Cheers!