No free lunch?

I used to be very chuffed whenever I received NTUC Fairprice Co-operative’s annual notice of the dividend from the handful of shares I hold in the co-op and the rebates I get from shopping at the co-op’s supermarkets. These are on top of the cash Linkpoints that I can use to offset my bills.

Then suddenly last year, I noticed something in my bank statements that I didn’t remember seeing be4. Every month, for goodness how long, whenever NTUC Income credits my account with the pay-out from a small annuity I bought from the insurer, there was a corresponding debit of $9.

The sum was innocuous enough for me not to make a quick journey to NTUC’s headquarters to demand an explanation.

Suddenly, the penny dropped.

The $9 is probably some kind of fee I’m paying to hold the U-card which in turn allows me to enjoy link points and rebates from my shopping at Fairprice.

The corollary is that if I don’t shop at Fairprice or don’t shop enough to offset the $108 I pay every year to NTUC Co-op, then I should give up my U-card.

So, there’s no free lunch!

The timely arrival of my latest yearly statement from the co-op a few days ago showed that I enjoyed a rebate of $168 for the year ended March 2013.

Assuming that I also got cash offsets of the same amount from my Link points, the candle is worth the game especially when Fairprice’s outlets are ubiquitous enough across Singapore for me to be able to buy from any without making any great effort.

The only drawback in general — though not for me — is that poor folks who can’t afford their monthly $9 contribution to the co-op won’t enjoy the Link points or the rebates.

Which doesn’t seem right especially when those who have little $ need to have every bit of help they can to stretch what little they have.

Oh sure, Fairprice and/or NTUC already do a lot for the poor, with food vouchers and many other things.

But why not a little bit more, such as granting U-cards to all households living on direct welfare from the Government?

As a gesture to encourage NTUC to do a little bit more, I am willing to use part of the rebate I have enjoyed to enable one disadvantaged household to have a U-card.

Anyone care to recommend such a household? 😆

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