[UPDATED on Friday, Oct. 9 at 4:50pm: We have added L'éclair Pâtisserie's response to our queries to the end of this article.]
A woman in Singapore's surprise birthday gift from a colleague was allegedly thrown away after she wasn't available to receive the delivery.
The surprise gift — an order from L'éclair Pâtisserie, a local bakery specialising in éclairs — was placed in the rubbish bin by the deliveryman after he tried to contact the woman, identified as Jasmin, four times in 11 minutes, reported Stomp.
Order meant to be a surprise birthday present
Jasmin told Stomp that her colleague had arranged for an order from L'éclair Pâtisserie to be delivered to Jasmin's condo on Sunday, Oct. 4.
However, she missed the delivery because she was visiting her mother in the hospital. She said that she wasn't informed by her colleague to expect the delivery since it was meant to be a surprise.
On the morning of the delivery, Jasmin said, the deliveryman allegedly called her "four times within 11 minutes" after he was unable to access her unit through the intercom.
Present thrown away after undeliverable
Jasmin said that the next thing she knew, her colleague messaged her, apologising and letting her know that the present had been thrown away by the deliveryman.
She said that the deliveryman later told her that he had been instructed by L'éclair to dispose of the delivery.
However, Jasmin questioned why her delivery from L'éclair faced such problems:
"At the same timing, my helper had informed me of a flower delivery from another friend.
If the florist had no issues delivering the flowers to my place, why did L'éclair face a challenge?"
In a WhatsApp message to Jasmin's colleague at 11:30am, L'éclair Pâtisserie stated that they had been trying to contact her and Jasmin for the past 15 minutes.
"We will be discarding the items as we cannot reach any of you for the delivery," the message read, and ten minutes later at 11:40am the bakery sent over a photo of the items sitting in a rubbish bin.
The message also noted that there would be no redelivery, as stated in the terms and conditions of the website.
Jasmin, however, was not pleased:
"L'éclair could have at least asked my colleague, who I'm sure would not mind paying the re-delivery fee, compared to the amount paid for the éclairs."
"They didn't even apologise for throwing the item away!", she told Stomp, adding it was "indeed a 'surprise' on my birthday!"
"I just wanted to make people aware about making surprise deliveries, so that they don't receive such disappointment and a picture of their birthday gift being thrown into the bin on their birthdays."
Netizens chimed in
After Jasmin's story was published on Stomp, a number of netizens took to the Facebook comments to share their thoughts.
While some empathised with Jasmin, others pointed out the difficulty that her being uncontactable likely posed for the deliveryman:
Others pointed out that, because the items being delivered were food, the deliveryman leaving the order for Jasmin or even redelivering could run the risk of food poisoning.
According to the frequently asked questions on L'éclair Pâtisserie's website, customers are recommended to refrigerate the éclairs within one to two hours from purchase, "to prevent spoilage or contamination as Singapore has a very warm and tropical climate", because they contain dairy products.
L'éclair Pâtisserie responds
Responding to Mothership's queries, L'éclair Pâtisserie shared that their standard delivery protocol is that if a delivery driver is unable to get in touch with the recipient through ringing the intercom or doorbell, or by calling their mobile phone, the driver contacts the bakery.
L'éclair Pâtisserie then contacts the sender to inform them about the unsuccessful delivery.
If the sender is unable to contact the recipient, L'éclair Pâtisserie said that they then give the options of either redelivery or delivery to an alternative address, both of which come at the sender's cost.
If both the sender and recipient are uncontactable for 15 minutes from the driver's first delivery attempt, though, there are then two options:
- The driver can keep the item for their own consumption, or
- The driver can dispose of the item, in order to ensure that food items are not left out and at risk of contamination or spoilage.
In the case of Jasmin's delivery, however, L'éclair Pâtisserie said that multiple attempts to contact both the sender and Jasmin were "to no avail".
In addition, the bakery shared, the deliveryman was denied access by security guards to deliver the items to the door, as no one answered the unit's intercom to acknowledge the delivery.
L'éclair Pâtisserie said that they made attempts to negotiate with the security personnel to hang the delivery at the unit, but he did not permit them to do so.
"Based on our past experiences, security guards typically do not accept deliveries on behalf of their residents as they do not wish to be liable should anything happen. It was the same this time round."
The deliveryman disposed of the eclairs rather than keeping them for his personal consumption, L'éclair Pâtisserie said, because the bakery is not halal-certified, a decision that they said they respected.
The shop summarised:
"In summary, we understand that some purchases are for surprises and there are instances that the recipients are unavailable at the time of delivery.
However, we seek our customers’ understanding in that we engage a third party service for our deliveries and we are unable to request drivers to wait for every recipient to collect the items.
This will adversely affect their punctuality for subsequent deliveries (for us and other businesses they are delivering items for)."
"We apologise for the unpleasant experience that this customer has faced," they added, saying that they will "continue to seek improvement in our overall operations to avoid similar incidents."
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Top photos via Stomp.