Honestbee, the Singapore online shopping service, announced a partnership with FairPrice way back in September 2015.
It seemed like a good fit. Shop online for groceries, and Shopper Bees employed by the company will go and get them on behalf for the customers.
But that partnership will come to an end in January 2019, with repercussions.
Shopper Bee slots made unavailable
One such Shopper Bee, who wished to remain anonymous, shared a screen shot of an email with Mothership on Jan. 30.
The email was allegedly from Honestbee, and addressed to all Shopper Bees under its employ.
It stated that the partnership with FairPrice will be "temporarily paused" with effect from Jan. 31.
It added that all Shopper Bee slots will be unavailable from that date.
The Shopper Bee had worked for three years with the company.
Both Fairprice and Honestbee had informed the Shopper Bees of the split.
However, the discrepancy lies in the duration of the split.
The Shopper Bee claimed that while Honestbee said this arrangement was temporary, Fairprice said it would be permanent.
The Shopper Bee said: "I am still wondering about my next move, and I am in shock that I lost the job so quickly. To make things worse, they do it before Chinese New Year."
What can Shopper Bees do?
Honestbee will pay out nominal compensation for slots that have already been "grabbed."
But what of the Shopper Bees who have been left bereft?
Honestbee said it will address their concerns and facilitate a "smooth transition" for them.
However, it also invited them to check out their "first physical home", the Habitat by Honestbee, a new high-tech supermarket in Pasir Panjang.
This new store opened in October 2018.
When contacted, Honestbee did not confirm if the decision to end its partnership with FairPrice contributed to the decision to let go of its Shopper Bees.
Neither did it confirm if the "temporary pause" would be permanent, or reveal the reason behind the split.
Instead, a spokesperson from Honestbee Singapore said following the temporary pause, the company wished to reassure its Shopper Bees that they can continue to shop at other merchants or take on a role at other areas of their business in the meantime.
It also said:
"We are sensitive to the concerns our bees are facing -- especially when this has happened close to the Chinese New Year holidays. Many of our bees -- although are part-timers with us, have been a critical part of our family who have played a key role in our success."
When contacted, FairPrice confirmed that there was a "temporary suspension", due to the review of the existing operations and collaboration process.
However, it wishes to assure the community that access to groceries and daily essentials remain available through their online portal and mobile app, FairPrice On, and their physical stores.
Top image from Honestbee and Fairprice's Facebook pages.