As someone who loves freebies, provided they are truly freebies — with no strings attached — I always find it an insult when around my birthday I get a bunch of “gifts” — from NTUC Income, Metro, Tangs, Tanglin Club, Raffles Marina etc etc. In short any vendor to whom I’ve ever given my date of birth.
It’s not that I look a gift horse in the mouth but because almost all send vouchers that aren’t gifts at all but cheap gimmicks to get me to spend something at their establishments.
So, over the years, I’ve learned to toss out most of the vouchers, “free gifts” (sic, if it ain’t free it ain’t a gift, geddit?) and other vultures dressed as pressies.
I toss out the $50 gift voucher from Tanglin Club — too many stipulations: it must be spent in the Churchill Room. Which is fine but then there’s a minimum spend + I must use it only for dinner. As the C Room is the most expensive facility, it means literally I must spend several times more to enjoy that $50. Hence the gift isn’t worth anything to me, not even the cost of the card it’s printed on.
The vulture-gift from Singapore Cricket Club is 15% discount for the pleasure of eating in the Padang, also the club’s most expensive outlet. Not only that: the prices of practically every item on the menu scream “the best of fine dining”; altho the results don’t quite match up, in my experience.
The discount is increased to 20% if the eating is done at dinner time on a Sunday. O, the generosity simply blows my mind! No prize for guessing what I’ve done with their “vulture”.
There is, or more accurately was, one club about whose birthday gift I used to sing its praises, for not having any conditions. $50 says the voucher and $50 value it would be. Eat anywhere; pay for food and drinks.
Alas, I don’t think Raffles Marina’s gift is that great any more. In fact it makes me mad to think I had actually fallen for its gimmick on Saturday.
We ordered four Botak coconuts, 2 garlic naans, fish tandoori, nasi goreng istimewa, grilled fillet of salmon, caesar salad and a glass of white wine. The bill came to $91.81, and after deducting the $50 “vulture”, I had to pay $41.81.
So what’s the beef you might ask. My beef is that even without the “gift”, I needed to pay abt $46! As an RM member entitled to 50% discount on all food and beverages over a certain number of years (in exchange for giving up certain privileges), I gained just abt $5, because when I used the “vulture”, I wasn’t allowed to claim the 50% discount, not even on the amount in excess of the vulture’s value. Which to me is ridiculous and makes the so-called gift not a gift at all.
Worse was the fact that the food served at RM’s Bistro was atrocious (quite unlike its standard in the recent past), except perhaps for the coconuts (I’m quite generous: actually one of the four coconuts we were served was definitely older than my mum, bringing to life the saying “Lau Yar” which means OLD COCONUT and colloquil for lousy). The nasi goreng looked all right but I won’t know what it tasted like: that was for Siti, the maid.
Of the remaining four dishes, the caesar salad was passable but not the remainder. The salmon was grilled or pan-fried to death. The flesh was almost like saw dust.
The naans dripped with oil, even after I made a desperate attempt to take out the oil with the paper napkins (which incidentally we weren’t given till we asked for them, as well as for some missing utensils and serving plates!!) The fish tandoori was hard and tasted as if they had been cooked perhaps many moons ago n reheated– stone hard and again swimming in oil.
The only thing I had to be thankful for was that I didn’t actually go to celebrate my birthday. Just to have a tasty Saturday lunch with the family which in reality turned out to be anything but. And no, we barely touched the naan and the fish, breaking them up to take away for some stray dogs off Sixth Avenue. We hate wasting food, even if someone had ruined it.