The owner of a food delivery service in Singapore, who allegedly went missing recently without paying eateries their share of revenue, has broken his silence.
Wants to repay but can't
Benson Lo, the owner of What To Eat food delivery service, told Channel NewsAsia on Thursday, Nov. 15 that he "really [has] no means" to repay the eateries the money he owes, even though he hopes to do so.
The amount he owes is estimated to be up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
According to The New Paper, business owners told the paper the company started to delay payments since two years ago, and that Lo owes them thousands of dollars each.
Lo said he is currently trying to pay his staff their salaries, as well as a good portion of his debt.
He is also planning to declare his company bankrupt:
"If they want to sue the company, it's really beyond my means. I will just leave it to (the bankruptcy process)."
Lo said his company closed down due to a lack of business, high costs, and tough competition.
Although What To Eat did relatively well when it first opened in 2013, securing more than 100 F&B partners, business faltered later on when investors chose to invest in competitors such as FoodPanda.
What To Eat, which has been deemed "permanently closed" on Google reviews, has an extremely low rating of 1.5 out of 5.
"Given up everything"
Lo said he sold all his personal belongings to pay his staff their salaries:
"I'm really at the stage where I've given up everything."
He said he regretted not closing down his business sooner -- he was reluctant to leave his employees without a job.
He added that his efforts to sustain this business has "sucked [him] dry".
As to why he had not gathered the F&B owners to explain to them his situation, he said:
"I tell you, if I gathered them I'll be spit on by them."
F&B outlet owners speak up
Joseph Lim, the 43-year-old owner of The Garden Slug, told CNA he felt disappointed when he failed to get a response from Lo on when he could get his payment.
Lo allegedly owes Lim's company at least S$700.
One partner at another eatery, Annabella Patisserie, said he chose to write off the S$1,000 he was owed, and would not contact the police:
"We understand how other people feel if we do that. That's how SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) work."
He added that he believes What To Eat ran into some financial difficulties and is "not running away".
Not all owners view the situation the same way though.
A shareholder of a hawker stall, KA, confronted Lo directly by going to his office at Geylang Road and a coffee shop he thought was run by Lo.
He managed to recover the S$1,000 he was owed.
KA said Lo should not avoid the eatery owners if he has financial problems:
"Don't wait until your so-called partners come and chase you until things turn sour, then you start to pay money."
Police, CASE reports lodged
TNP reported that the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) said it has received a complaint about What To Eat.
The police also confirmed that a report has been lodged against the company.
Top image via What To Eat