5 Ways of Dealing with Bad Restaurant Service in Singapore

How many times can you get an order wrong? How many times can you forget to bring that cup of iced water? Countless if your restaurant happens to be on the little red dot Singapore.
When it comes to service the country is still a black hole compared to some neighboring states, where every bit of “Service” gets sucked up by a unknown source spitting back out massive amounts of incompetent waiters and service personal. If you have eaten out in Singapore – You have experienced bad service.

1. Can I speak to the manager please?

If there is one fundamental thing to know about getting things done in Singapore, “things” being the service you expect to get, don’t be polite and torture yourself while trying to deal with the person that is “taking care” of you.

Is your order wrong, something missing or the service just slow, you should ask your server once, it might simply really be busy, but if its apparent that your lack in service is due to a lack in will to provide it, then escalate to the manager directly. I always have the feeling employers in Singapore, especially in the service orientated industry, act like zombies following a strict plan without any variations or thinking involved from themselves. It’s called “service” not “dumb delivery”.

2. Become the Servers best friend

Some call it ass-kissing, I call it the first step in getting your service right. Yes, being a bit over-polite in the first 5 minutes of settling down at your restaurant, having a quick chat with your server or making a nice remark about the setup or location of the place leaves a good impression with the people that will be responsible for your experience, and give you later the right to demand something without them allowing themselves to get annoyed. It’s called Psychology. You give – you get.

3. Let Money Speak – The Tipping Point

In Singapore you will almost certainly have a 7-10% service charge added to your bill automatically. In very rare occasions I gave back the bill, asking for a new one, without service charge, because what I don’t receive I don’t pay for.
A service charge at hawker center with self service? A service charge when my food was cold, the server unfriendly at my order wrong? You must be joking!
It’s a reward system, and believe me you don’t earn much as a waiter. So that one dollar you give or not, can be a painful stab at the persons wallet. Give to who deserves (only)!

4. Listen – DO NOT accept discounts

I once had a extremely awful food experience at a major Thai outlet, so the manager offered me to knock of 10% of the next bill. Are you kidding me? What makes you believe I would ever come back?

Unfortunately it seems to be common practice in Singapore, but do know, if the waiter looks you deep into the eyes and says “Sorry, that’s all I can do”.. then its not. That’s plain bullshit.
The problem is that people here rarely continue to ask for their rightful refund once the manager has made any ridiculous offer, be it a free fruit juice. Do not settle with that!

5. Just Leave! There is plenty fish in the sea!

“You cannot do that!”, Oh yes i can, even though I just queued again to get a table at some ridiculously hyped place in Singapore, if I feel like it, and there must be a reason then, I leave and go to the place next door.
Don’t tell me there are not enough restaurants here, you can practically not not walk past at least 10 different kitchens within any street in Singapore. And who keeps you inside any place you don’t want to? It’s not a prison and its not that you “owe” them anything either. Show some courage to yourself and the manager what you think of their food!

  • Summary:
  • • Don’t hesitate to ask for the manager, in most cases it will be the only person being able to help at all
  • • Some ass-kissing might just be enough to get your service right
  • • Tip only to who deserves, and if no one deserves ask for a revised bill
  • • Don’t settle with ridiculous discounts, its not enough!
  • • Leave whenever you want to, you are not a slave that must eat at their place




FYI the service charge goes to the business, not the waiter! It won’t make any difference to the waiters pay (which is fixed)


one thing i learned, do not bitch with people who serve you food. I simply dont want extra flavour


Try being a brown dude (or just not white!) and doing any of the above. You’ll mess things up to the point of it resulting in what many would refer to as Racism, if you know what I mean! ..

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