Trash delivered instead of food – restaurant mistake or diner scam? What really happened?

Curiouser and curiouser. The trash-for-food debacle that shocked all of us doesn’t seem to have come to a very clear resolution. However, all the parties concerned are now shying away from speaking publicly about the incident.

street view of food stall
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We did a little bit of investigative journalism to see what we could uncover. Here are the facts:

  • On Friday, Mar 11, Zephyr Jun Xiang Ng used the FoodPanda app to order mala worth S$19.48 from Chuan Wei Mala Hot Pot at 678A Choa Chu Kang Crescent.
  • The order was made at around 7:53pm.
  • It was processed at the restaurant at 8:06pm.
  • A FoodPanda rider delivered the order at 8:19pm.
  • Mr. Ng immediately realised the delivery bag was too light to contain his order.
  • When he opened the bag, it contained trash and not his food.
  • Mr. Ng complained to FoodPanda. They refunded him the S$19.48 for his order and gave him an additional S$2 voucher.

When the news first broke, some netizens doubted Mr. Ng’s version of the story. There were some comments about scamming the restaurant for a free meal. On the surface, sending trash instead of food seems like such an absurd mistake that it’s no surprise that some wondered if it indeed was a scam.

screenshot of fb post
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On deeper investigation, though, Mr. Ng has been vindicated.

According to Shin Min Daily News, the restaurant reviewed its CCTV footage, which revealed these facts:

  • A worker was cleaning up while Mr. Ng’s order was being processed.
  • That person placed a bag of trash near other bags which contained delivery orders. 
  • A staff member then attached the receipt from Mr. Ng’s order to the bag of trash.
  • The FoodPanda delivery person collected the bag with Mr. Ng’s receipt order number to deliver to his address.

So, Mr. Ng had no grand plans to rob the place of S$19.48 as the error clearly happened at the restaurant. There are some serious questions about their in-house SOPs if bags of trash and bags of food are being kept at the same place!

However, there is another twist. The same diner was the victim of a very similar incident with the same restaurant just 3 days prior!

image of black soup in tupperware
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On Mar 8, Mr. Ng had complained on Facebook that his order of mala had been replaced with a “mysterious black soup”. FoodPanda had refunded the S$23.48 and given him a S$2 voucher then as well.

So, why is this happening repeatedly to the same FoodPanda customer? I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure he’s done ordering from this restaurant. 

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