Welcome to WorkingWithGrace! :)

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Hi! I’m Grace. Welcome to my blog, WorkingWithGrace. 🙂 I have interviewed a number of inspiring people for my blog, many of whom are celebrities, millionaires and entrepreneurs. Here’s one of them…

Meet Peter Buffett, son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett. Peter was one of my former interviewees, and here’s a quick clip for those who have never met him before:

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Since 2013, this blog has received awards and recognition from many brands. I’ve been blessed with awards such as these ones:

2013 Best Individual Blog WINNER at the annual Singapore Blog Awards
2013 Aries Gold Watches’ Blogger Contest WINNER
2013 Zespri Blogger Challenge WINNER
2013 StarHub Blogger Challenge WINNER
2014 BRANDS’ Blogger Challenge WINNER
2014 Influr Blogger Challenge WINNER
2014 rolleyes x Panasonic Blogger Challenge WINNER
2015 SingSaver Blogger Contest WINNER

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I’ve been blogging since 2010, and I’m currently putting together a list of my best blogposts from these 5+ years of blogging. In the meantime, here are two of my favorite posts published in January 2016:

#1: Volunteering at a Cambodian Orphanage

Cute Cambodian boy

#2: 4 Tips For Learning Bahasa Indonesia FAST

 traditional javanese wedding

Continue scrolling to read more of my latest blogposts! 😀

$9.90 Sirloin Steak Set Lunch at Jack’s Place

jacks place promotion

I’m not sure about you, but I think $9.90 for a sirloin steak set lunch is a steal. And the set lunch comes with a Soup of the Day, wholemeal garlic bread, Dessert of the Day and coffee/tea. I think I’ll be eating steak a few times this month at Jack’s Place. 😀 And if you don’t fancy steak, how about a FREE Cheese Fondue Sampler Platter* (worth $16) with any main course / set lunch? (*If you have one of their mailers)

Just $9.90 before service charge and GST…

jacks place set lunch

Previously there was a Grilled Chicken set lunch, and after the Sirloin Steak one, it’ll be the Fish Fillet set. But I do still think that the steak offers the best value-for-money. 🙂

As for the *Free* cheese fondue, I was surprised at the portion size. It was a yummy starter for us. It has portobello mushrooms, which you can dip in their very generous serving of nacho cheese. And there are onion rings, which I thought were calamari at first glance. And what I liked most were those chicken mid wings, which were well marinated so they are tasty throughout. Did not find the salad appealing but thought the fried crabsticks were interesting – not your usual addition to such platters.

jacks place singapore menu

As my fussier half prefers combos, he went for a steak and fish combo. And the staff at Jack’s Place are so nice – they come over with the condiments so you can decide how much goes onto your baked potato.

Thumbs up for the service 🙂

jacks place halal

Also enjoyable were the soups and garlic bread. Soup of the Day today was cream of broccoli. It had some shredded crabstick on top. I’m not sure why Jack’s Place likes using crabstick in their food. 😀 But I have no complaints.

jacks place review

The Dessert of the Day was a slice of their fruit pie. I didn’t want us both to have pie since we’d always share our food. So I upgraded my dessert to Mango Pomelo Udders Ice Cream. 🙂

jacks place cake

I was very impressed by the staff at Jack’s Place, SAFRA Punggol. Besides being friendly, I thought I saw the manager mopping the floor before the restaurant opened at 11am today (I’d popped in to check if they were ready as the sign still read ‘CLOSED’ outside). Their part-timer, a mother with a 30+-year-old son, was friendly and had a full face of makeup on, which I found made her look very presentable (I don’t usually see part-timers looking so good in F&B joints). And when staff emerged from the kitchen to serve us our food, we smelled cologne instead of ‘oil’.

If I had to offer recommendations for improvement, it’ll be to ensure there are no vegetable ends served. I found the sharp spiky end of a french bean on my plate, and also a small piece of spring onion on the dessert spoon that came with my udders ice cream. Spring onion ice cream might be a new flavor. Somebody tell Udders now! 😀

The $9.90 Sirloin Steak set lunch can only be enjoyed this month. Come February, it’ll be Fish Fillet. So pop by Mondays to Fridays and dine in to enjoy this offer. Apparently, there are only 50 sets per day so you don’t want to be the last in store. 🙂 *Not available on eves of/and on Public Holidays!

Head over to SAFRA Punggol to enjoy everything listed here. 🙂

*Present your SAFRA card for 10% off regular priced items on the menu.

Oblong: Ice Cream Cafe at Serangoon Gardens

Oblong Ice Cream

Cream cheese between waffle layers? Jackfruit ice cream with actual jackfruit bits? Rum-and-raisin ice cream that seems like it has actual alcoholic content? Yup. That’s what we had at Oblong Ice Cream cafe at Serangoon Gardens. If you’re craving for some waffles, brownies or ice cream, this is one cafe I’d recommend.

The first thing I saw when I stepped into the cafe was their brownies sitting pretty in a cake stand. I asked if they served the brownies warm (the staff said they can heat it up for me) and my mind was set. My pals ordered the waffle… and here’s their kiddo trying to telepathically communicate his desire to have some of that ice cream:

😀

Waffles Serangoon Gardens

And you don’t say ‘no’ to those eyes.

Apparently, the mao shan wang and chocolate ice cream here is good (according to my pals). I went instead for the jackfruit and rum&raisin – both of which we’d sampled before deciding on what flavors to order…

Oblong Serangoon Gardens

The brownie is moist and tastes good when served warm. It’s not the sticky or chunky kind, which some people may like. It’s more like a light, sponge cake that’s not overly chocolate-y. The kind that won’t give you a sore throat too quickly. A good size for sharing too.

As a couple, I like to have us pick one ice cream flavor each when we’re out for dessert (that’s fair, no?) and this time, he went for rum&raisin (didn’t tell me why till later) and I thought jackfruit was such a ‘rare’ flavor for ice cream that I just had to order it at least once.

Apparently, the rum is pretty strong. I wonder if this ice cream can even be fed to kids. Adults will no doubt have a kick from eating this. Yumz. Yes, that’s why he wanted this flavor.

I like how there are the chewy bits of jackfruit in the ice cream and how it’s a fuss-free way to savor jackfruit. If you’ve eaten the fruit before (using your hands), you know it leaves a kind of sticky sap(?) on your fingers that goes away only with multiple washes. And oh… you get jackfruit breath after, too. 😀

Also, stalk Oblong on Instagram and you’ll find that some of the local radio DJs, Mediacorp artistes and famous Youtubers have been to Oblong for some “waffle lovin'” as they call it. 🙂

Oblong is @ 10 Maju Avenue, Serangoon Gardens.

NEX: Auspicious Cupcakes, 18-Herb Bak Kwa & Ltd Edn Champagne

Twelve Cupcakes Singapore

Image Credit: Twelve Cupcakes SG

If you didn’t get enough of Twelve Cupcakes during their recent S$2 promotion (I sure didn’t), then look out for the auspicious-looking ones this Lunar New Year. The mandarin orange-lookalike has got my vote for being most creative. And I’m sure the taste will be pretty good, as always. Near my home is NEX where they don’t just have cupcakes, but also bak kwa and Ernest Rapeneau Limited Edition Champagne.

nex mall

I sure didn’t know that Fragrance’s bak kwa has been marinated with 18 Chinese herbs. (Thanks, NEX) That’s A LOT. And I guess everyone has their favorite bak kwa brand. I did a taste test of several brands one year… [ find out which is the best bak kwa here ]. I’m not about to do it again because it’s just wayyyy too many calories and the prices have likely already shot up. 😉

Anyway… about the cupcakes, if you’re *not* getting the CNY ones, I’d recommend you go for the ones with brownie cubes on top. Because you get cupcake + brownie for the price of one. 😀

Twelve Cupcakes Brownie Cupcakes

*I just wanted to do a post about their awesome cupcakes. 😀 I hope the brand continues doing well even though the founders have split.

New Year, New Linen: Linen House Singapore

My favorite 'brands' from Australia :)

My favorite ‘brands’ from Australia 🙂

While I’m a foodie who likes uncovering new makan places in Singapore, I’m also a ‘homebody’ most of the time and I love changing up the decorative elements at home. After all, home is where we spend lots of time with our loved ones, and we have to ensure it’s not just cosy and inviting but also allows for creativity and inspiration. A lovely little surprise arrived in the post this week from the fantastic crew at Linen House Singapore. It contained a paw novelty cushion, a madeleine cushion as well as a colorful, round towel.

Paw Cushion

In this picture above, you see the paw novelty cushion which is almost as big as kitty – how cute is this? Not only does it add some real character to my living space (it would also be perfect for a kid’s bedroom), it’s so soft and perfect for leaning up against – does anyone else ever get a really sore back leaning up against a hard-backed chair for too long?

Speaking of adding life to a living space, the madeleine cushion adds so much character to any area. I love the soft cotton knit, the color combination and the cute pom-pom corners.

Linen House Singapore

Always be hungry for knowledge 😀 😀

My last little gift from the team at Linen House Singapore was a round towel. I just love how this isn’t just your average, boring, ordinary towel – it’s definitely a statement towel thanks to its wonderful array of colours and its crisp, white-fringed edging. What I love about this towel is that it becomes a real talking point for any guests you have over. People definitely notice the bold colours and their geometric form.

Because it’s been raining almost every single day here, I have no plans to bring it to the beach yet so it’s now the living room “carpet” at home. But I just might take it with me to my next beach vacation. Woohoo!

I can’t wait to see what else Linen House Singapore has to offer. I’ve already had a quick browse and I think many will love their duvet covers and bed sheet range. If you’re looking for a few items to give your home or office an instant lift, look no further than Linen House Singapore. (*I really do appreciate how they include a piece of cardboard on top of their products when they’re packing them into the box, so that you won’t end up ‘cutting’ the products accidentally when you’re opening the box with a penknife, as the cardboard acts as a protective layer. Much love.)

Spring-Cleaning? Donate Your Pre-loved Books to Dignity Mama

dignity mama

Credit: Dignity Mama

A former student of mine is doing volunteer work at Dignity Mama, a social enterprise which helps kids with special needs, and he reached out to me to help spread the word regarding the good work that Dignity Mama does. And since many households are doing their spring-cleaning ahead of the Lunar New Year, I believe it’s a great time to round up those books we have lying around at home collecting dust, and give them a new lease of life while helping the less privileged.

Your donated books will be sold at the Dignity Mama stalls manned by youths with special needs. My pal volunteers at the outlet in Ng Teng Fong Hospital and this stall sells used books and muffins. So do pop by if you live or work near the hospital and send them some love in the form of your used books, donations, or purchases of their muffins. 🙂 The outlet is located at Tower A of the NTFGH Clinics, at #02-10.

Opening Hours:

Mon to Fri 10am to 9pm

Sat 10am to 6pm

*They are closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.

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Some background about how Dignity Mama started:

DIGNITY MAMA is a second-hand book store started in 2010 inside Dignity Kitchen by Mr Koh Seng Choon, founder of Project Dignity Pte Ltd. It aims to equip challenged young people and their parents with entrepreneurial skills to run and manage a stall within the public domain.

Their mission is:

“To build and return dignity to the disadvantaged and disabled through vocation with passion.”

The first outlet was a pushcart at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. This was followed by a stall at National University Hospital. The third outlet is at Ng Teng Fong Hospital.

All donated books are sorted and priced reasonably for sale to generate income.

So, instead of throwing away your used books, why not donate them to Dignity Mama? 🙂 And while you’re at it, you may even find some pre-loved books at low prices that you’ll want to bring home.

For more information, please visit http://www.dignitymama.sg.

 

Flame Cafe: The One Famous For Its 4-Tier Steamboat

the flame cafe tai seng

Did you know that The Flame Cafe at Tai Seng is famous for its 4-tier pagoda steamboat? Well, I found out only after getting there and spotting the folks at another table and their legendary steamboat setup (really WOW). Meanwhile, we tried the mains and dessert at Flame and here’s a quick review so you know what to order when you’re there. 🙂

In the first picture above, you see the Salmon I ordered. It’s about 2cm thick with miso slathered on top. Quite nice. Would be better if the flavors had been infused into the fish as it tastes a little bland if you remove the salmon skin first. The roast potatoes were good, as they should be.

As for the Chili Crab Pasta, I think it looked a little sad…

the flame cafe singapore

Using the same ingredients, a different presentation would have wow-ed. Maybe serve it on a platter, like a deconstructed version of this dish. Pasta twirled in one corner, poached egg in the middle and chili crab sauce in a little jug. And IF one whole crab claw (deshelled or otherwise) is served together with the dish, I guess I’d be willing to pay more. This costs $13.90 before service charge. 🙂

We also tried the Sambal Escargots. Nice mix of portobello mushrooms and escargots – the colors turned out rather similar so it was hard to tell which was which. I would order it again.

 the flame cafe singapore menu

Sneaked a pic of the folks with their pagoda steamboats:

flame cafe steamboat

I need to round up some friends before coming here again for steamboat. 🙂

Love the decor, especially those industrial style chairs and interesting feature walls that must be a pain to dust. The cafe is big and airy. I also like how thoughtful the staff are. As much as possible, they leave alternate tables empty so you get all the privacy you need, until more customers stream in.

flame cafe tai seng

As for the dessert, I felt it was a letdown both in presentation and taste. Here’s the Waffle For One…

flame cafe singapore review

It looked like someone had torn a whole waffle into 4 quarters, using his/her bare hands. Yikes! Quite shocking, I have to say. I’ve seen mini waffles before, and those were served whole (at other establishments), and not torn apart like this one. The taste left more to be desired as well, but for $4.90 I guess I shouldn’t complain.

The Chocolate Lava Cake ($8.90) was a little flat – half the height of usual lava cakes. But since the chocolate flows out, nothing else matters. 🙂

the flame cafe review

There are a couple of promotions you might want to take note of if you’re heading over to The Flame Cafe. We used a Groupon voucher for this meal so we had the ala carte items.

the flame cafe menu

the flame cafe promotion

Here’s the address and opening hours:

the flame cafe address

Vegan Fast Food @ nomVnom & Christmas @ Botanic Gardens

nomvnom menu

A Malaysian pal was in town recently and I brought him to try vegan fast food at Clarke Quay. At Central, which is linked to the Clarke Quay MRT station, is nomVnom which serves up decent meals – I don’t even mind that they’re vegan, which is rare. Then we went to the Botanic Gardens where I (happily) got to clock my 10K steps, equally rare these days too. 😀

In the picture above, you see my favorite nomVnom “burger” which features the blue pea flower. My pal told me that this flower can be found right outside his home. So he wasn’t inclined towards eating it here. 😀 It happens to be my favorite item there as the burger “buns” are actually potato patties, like hashbrowns. YUMMY!

nomvnom clarke quay

nomvnom promotion

I love their truffle fries and avocado smoothie too. I don’t usually order avocado smoothies as they usually come laced with gula melaka and I think it tastes horrible. But here at nomVnom, they use banana, coconut, etc to add to the otherwise bland taste of avocados.

There’s a promotion at nomVnom right now in which you can purchase their vouchers ($10 each) and get one free when you buy nine. Our meal for 3 cost just over S$50.

As for the Botanic Gardens, I love how there are so many Christmas trees there right now. The trees are decorated unlike your usual Christmas trees, some using very interesting materials, such as this one with roses made from plastic bags:

Plastic Bag Rose

And here’s a novel way to upcycle your (bubble tea) plastic cups and straws 😛

Plastic Cup decorations

And since my pal is a yoga master, I brought him to the famous Botanic Gardens gazebo and had him do some yoga poses while I snapped pictures for him. 😀

We also found a “new” attraction at the Botanic Gardens: this guy with his canine buddies. I think I counted nine of them. I suspect he’s a dog walker, because I cannot fathom having this number of dogs at home. OMG. Pretty cool occupation too, if he’s indeed a professional dog walker, since he gets paid to exercise. 🙂

botanic gardens dog walker

If you’ve enjoyed your Christmas feasting, maybe today’s a good time to head out and burn off some of those calories! 😀

Tamako Meal: Truly DELICIOUS Japanese Food @ Casuarina Road

Tamako Meal Saba Shio

Tamako Meal is located at Casuarina Road (if you haven’t heard of this road, I don’t blame you… it’s somewhere near the Lower Peirce Reservoir Park) and not that accessible unless you drive. But I’m quite sure it’s worth the journey there, especially since… wait for it… there’s a Groupon promotion going on right now (weekend groupons are sold out already!). This business was started by a Japanese grandmother and now her grandchild is running the show. I suspect standards haven’t dropped at all as I really enjoyed the meal here.

For starters, we had salmon sashimi (which came in thick slices) and saba shio as I love grilled saba fish. The saba fish served at Tamako Meal is seasoned just right, so you can even eat it on its own without rice! I really do appreciate how there’s a pop of color on the saba fish platter: the red tomato, yellow lemon slice and a bit of green garnishing. It’s not atas Japanese dining, but more of the homely fare which I adore to bits.

I love salmon sashimi:

Tamako Meal review

As for the mains, I had the Una-Tama Don which, as you can probably tell, comes with unagi (yummy!) and egg. I love the mushrooms, sweet onions and peas too. It’s one dish which I can truly eat everyday without getting tired of…

Tamako Meal singapore

He ordered the Curry Udon, and I do approve of his choice. The noodles are really thin as you can see in the picture below, and the curry is the sweet Japanese sort. He was expecting something spicy like our local curries, but this one can be enjoyed without having to ask for a glass of cold water. 😀

Tamako Meal Casuarina

Besides free flow hot tea and free wifi, you can also get a small serving of this seaweed if you like Tamako Meal’s facebook page and check-in while you’re there (just let the staff know).

Tamako Meal groupon

The entire meal cost us just S$22.20 with a Groupon voucher ($20 for $40 worth of food). It’s such good value, especially when we didn’t have to pay full price. 😀

Pop by Mondays to Thursdays and you can enjoy these items at just $10 too.

Tamako Meal menu

I’m so tempted to buy another Groupon voucher and head back a second time but my wiser half tells me to avoid the ‘curse’ of the second visit – food usually tastes really good on the first visit, but strangely disappoints on the next. Oh well. Why don’t YOU go and give the food at Tamako Meal a try then. Let me know if you enjoyed it as much as I did the first time. 🙂

Tamako Meal is located at 128 Casuarina Road. Tel: 6553 4128.

Pick Me Up Cafe @ East Coast: Menu, Prices, What To Order

Pick Me Up Cafe Petite Charcoal Waffle

Whenever Pick Me Up Cafe has an offer on Groupon, I find it hard to resist. After all, every one of us needs a ‘pick-me-up’ at some point, right? For me, that somehow involves dessert! 😀 Been to this cafe at least twice, and I foresee myself heading back again, especially with my dessert-loving neighbors. In the picture above, you see Pick Me Up Cafe’s Petite Charcoal Waffle that tastes as good as it looks (order this!). And here’s what else you might want to try…

Pardon the picture quality but here’s their Hawaiian Pizza featuring turkey ham, pineapple and tomatoes. It costs S$16.90 and can easily feed 3 to 4 pax. Love the thin crust, wish there’s more pineapple. Well, actually, I’ve never had a pizza that has the amount of pineapple I desire. Maybe I should make a pizza myself. 😛

Pick Me Up Cafe Petite Charcoal Waffle

We also had the Big Brekkie. Don’t you just love all-day breakfasts? This was eaten around supper time. Haha! It’s simply everything you want on a plate. This also costs S$16.90, like the pizza. So if you want variety but can only order 1 main, choose this. Save for the baked beans which I don’t eat, everything else was good. (I wonder if they’ll give me more mushrooms instead of baked beans. Will ask next time.)

Pick Me Up Cafe Big Brekkie

Menu’s here, for your reference:

Pick Me Up Cafe menu

This cafe is child-friendly, and you can help yourself to water and cutlery at the back of the cafe. Love that there’s alfresco seating in front and a mini playground for kiddos too.

And here’s my neighbor’s kid, who got quite upset when my darling tried to take the plate of fries away from him. Truffle fries cost S$9.50 – not exactly cheap – but if this kiddo wants fries, this kiddo gets fries.

He taught me that fries are not for sharing.

Pick Me Up Cafe truffle fries

If you’re at Pick Me Up Cafe for a date with a loved one, and craving for waffles, my suggestion would be to skip the Whole Waffles (S$15.90 onwards) and pick 2 petite ones instead, so you can try two flavors! The Petite Waffles cost S$8.90 each and you can choose your waffle flavor: Banana, Rose or Chocolate. 🙂 Trust me on this one.

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Pick Me Up Cafe is located at 920 East Coast Parkway, #01-02, S(449875). Tel: 63481909.

Touching Apology Letter from CEO of 65daigou / ezbuy

It’s not often we get apology letters from CEOs of big companies. Usually, companies and their PR agencies try to gloss over failures, explain away inadequacies and focus solely on what they’ve done well. So this letter from the CEO of 65daigou (now rebranded as ezbuy) is a pleasant surprise. Without any flourishes, it comes across as sincere. It’s a really long letter though, so I’ve highlighted some portions. 🙂

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Dear valued customers,

It’s a tradition for me to send a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year email before Christmas every year. I would normally review what we have done and achieved for the past year –the good and bad and share plans for the coming year to our valued customers with anticipation and joy. Then, I would thank everyone’s support and love, wish everyone merry Christmas and happy new year sincerely on behalf of 65daigou / ezbuy team.
Regretfully however, though in the midst of festivities, I cannot write this year’s email as I did in the past years. I am filled with the bittersweet sadness of the recent situation that we find ourselves in.

Many things have happened in 2016, re-branding to ezbuy, enlarging our product pool to include millions of products that are available for one-time payment, launching Prime annual membership program, flash deal, cash off sales zone to enhance “greater savings” and many more, which if had happened in 2015, I would be more than happy to list them down, but this year, especially in the recent 3 months, I feel ashamed to do.
Despite all the efforts we had made this year to enhance the shopping experience, if we cannot shorten the overall order fulfillment cycle as we had been doing for the past few years, if we cannot even deliver your orders on time, then we have had failed the most fundamental and important responsibility, which is to send every order to customers with speed and accuracy. This is the worst time ever and there’re so many customers have been with us for more than 2 years, 4 years, even 6 years, when we received feedback from them, when they came to us for help on their orders undergoing abnormal delays, we felt deeply disappointed in ourselves.

During China National holiday (from 1st Oct to 7th Oct), many employees took long leaves and the leftover orders from end of September started to get delayed due to the long holiday. Due to some special reasons, the plan of shifting to a 4 times bigger warehouse in Dong Guan from Guangzhou was delayed to October. And because of the new location, our human resources, regardless of full time employees or part timers was facing a monumental challenge. But we had to shift the warehouse under this circumstance because we needed to get the new warehouse ready for 11.11 sales. We started to see 3 – 8 days delay in October, but before we could catch up, 11.11 came and we received surprisingly high volume of orders. Since then, overall order fulfillment cycle was slower by 5-15 days or even longer.
Customers submitted orders to us but we could not purchase within 24 hours like what we used to. Sellers sent items to our warehouse but we could not complete the inspection, repacking, and give customers a timely update. This terrible situation lasted until mid of Dec. During the worst 3 weeks, tons of goods arrived in our warehouse but no matter how hard the operation team worked, maybe only half of them can be inspected and shipped out, and every day there were tons of goods sitting in every corner of our warehouses pending processing. It was not just the delay that frustrated you, but also our inability of giving you a rough estimation on when your orders can be processed that aggravated the situation. The delay and uncertainty caused all kinds of troubles to tens of thousands customers, some items were meant to be gifts, some items were bought for company events, and others were travel essentials which is now lost the purpose of its original intend… We were not pro-active and customer-oriented enough when you came to us for those delayed items, we should have given you a more solid answer instead of making you ask and wait again. We are truly sorry for the poor and improper communications, which we all can imagine how badly we had made things for you.

When I was young, every time I made mistakes, my parents would ask me to face the wall and confess to myself for an hour. Growing up and entering the workforce, a report called “8D report” was required whenever mistakes were made. This 8D report normally starts from identifying root cause, to finding out Corrective & Preventive actions. It’s a very systematic way of analyzing, understanding mistakes, how mistake happened and how to prevent them. I appreciated it and brought it to our internal operation. Every “unsatisfied” review we received, if we could find the root cause and the particular employee who made the mistake, for example, purchaser bought a wrong spec of item because he/she misunderstand customer’s order remark, a damaged goods because of improper handling and packaging and etc. we would make sure that they write 8D reports for their mistakes instead of punishing them. This Christmas, we need to have a Corrective & Preventive action plans for the mistakes we have made, to give you confidence again.

The severe delay:
Everyone in operation team, management team including myself have been working around the clock, doing our best to check more items, send out more parcels, reply more inquiries;
There were many actions taken;
Getting more manpower at any cost. We raised all orders and parcels related payout, found all possible agencies to help us hire full time and part time staffs
IT team paused all projects, fully focus on ERP improvements to help increase operation efficiency
Rented more temporary warehouses to accommodate items and increased part timers doing order inspection and repacking
We have been trying all possibilities with just one focus, to clear all leftover orders.
Therefore, with all the efforts being put in, we have finally caught up for majority of the orders by 10th Dec. If you have shopped during 12.12, you may have felt that the processing time for 12.12 was much quicker than 11.11. Majority of the 12.12 orders were inspected within a week.

The series of delays which happened in the past 3 months put us in deep thoughts; how to prevent this kind of delay due to similar incidents and during peak season?
Unlike the typical e-commerce website who has an upper limit in order volume, which is the number of stocks available; we have no limit by nature, your support can be overwhelming but we will be incapable of handling all orders well if we solely rely on manpower, hence we have to speed up the process of bringing in intelligent systems to help us relieve the strain on manpower.
A special task force team has been formed to optimize the system and processes from top to bottom, with the consideration of the possible growth in order volume we will receive for the next 2 years.
Engage professionals in logistic/warehousing to help us optimize warehouse turnover time and improve warehouse efficiency.
Meanwhile, we promise 24 hours of processing time for 3 processes: purchase, inspection and parcel shipment from 2017. If any of your orders get delayed, we will penalize ourselves by compensating you rmb1 for every single order, every business day of delay in any of the 3 processes. The longer the delay of each order, the more we will penalize ourselves to compensate you. In future, should similar scale of delay happen again, we could end up compensating huge amount to our customers.

We strive to give you a measurable and tangible promise, hence by announcing this initiative, we force ourselves to pay more attention to our operation. This is the most basic and fundamental thing for us, which has been something we took pride in for the previous years.

2. Customer service team failed to assist you, give you a reply in time, and provide you an unprofessional reply at times:
Although customer service team has doubled in the past 2 months, working overtime every day to clear backlogs, due to the number of problem orders which requires the team to contact both sellers and you to process, coupled with after-sales issues coming from the large amount of 11.11 orders which had been shipped to you, our customer service team will need a slightly longer time to catch up to resume our normal service standard.

We have started piloting an intelligent customer service solution to improve our efficiency in a larger scale; we have arranged for trainings from external parties and internal trainers to improve customer service team soft skill and competence in handling your inquiries. To you, we hope to achieve a more timely and professional customer service standard.

3. All kinds of problems originating from ship-for-me service:

We noticed on different forums, Facebook and other open channels, half of the complaints originate from ship-for-me service. Besides the delay issue which we had resolved during beginning of this Dec, many other problems lie in the disconnection of service expectation.

For ship-for-me service, we are a logistic provider, the only service obligation is to provide a shipping service for whatever item we receive on behalf of you, much like DHL or Singpost.

It is natural that customers who use our ship-for-me service to benchmark the service standard of buy-for-me or prime service, and have higher expectation on us than other logistic providers. When this kind of expectation is applied to damaged or lost parcels, customers cannot understand why ship-for-me service compensation is so little and even capped by shipping fee though this is an industry standard which DHL, Fedex are adopting.

Some customers who use Taobao forwarders to ship some small items or regular items would like to benchmark our processing time vs Taobao forwarders. This is a reasonable comparison. But the fact is Taobao forwarders’ system are integrated with Taobao, they have every detail about your order, they can cross reference and are able to match your orders much easier, faster and with very good accuracy. They also know what the order volume is immediately after you have made purchase so that they can allocate resources in advance. Many of you are used to this so when engaging our ship-for-me service, it’s natural you don’t submit your purchase information or tracking information on our site after you purchase from Taobao. However, this caused a lot of issues in the past. The lack of information in order volume results in insufficient resources allocated and the delay in order processing. And without your order details, if your item comes without your unique ID or an illegible shipping label which contains your unique ID, we could never be able to match easily for you, this caused tens of thousands problem orders unable to be tied to the owner.

Many of you chose to use our ship-for-me service over Taobao forwarders because we offer sea shipment, much cheaper sensitive air shipment and air shipment which is 30% cheaper. We are able to help you to ship bulky items, items containing liquid, batteries etc. which Taobao forwarders do not allow to ship. A huge variety of items which require longer processing time and more tedious checks come to us, without adequate information when we received them. We do not even know if they are valuable or need special care but yet, we need to spend more time and effort to process them.

In the past, we always thought more flexibility for customers is good, but when we offer flexible services and cheaper prices at the same time, we realize that it becomes difficult to manage customers’ expectations.
We do understand that customers want flexibility, cheaper price and higher service standards, but we have to know our capabilities, know what we can offer in order to maintain our service standards and protect our reputation. Thus we have made a difficult decision that from 1st Jan 2017 onward, we will cease all ship-for-me sea shipment service and only offer air shipment service like Taobao forwarders. In the meantime, we do not accept any valuable items and please kindly take note of the compensation of ship-for-me service. It is indeed a difficult decision to make because we sacrificed the flexibility, but this can really help us to have better focus on ship-for-me air shipment. All we hope to do is to give our valuable customers a more efficient service.

With a heavy heart, I write this. The past 3 months, we put so many customers into different kinds of trouble, dilemma and worries, made so many employees work non-stop for so long… but no matter what, we are 65daigou, ezbuy as a team, we do not shrink away from responsibilities that we ought to bear. Even during the worse delay, we were still serious about our ETA and on-time shipping guarantee, making 30% international shipping fee compensation for shipment delays. During 11.11 and Black Friday, those orders we did not manage to purchase in time, as long as your orders were submitted before our guaranteed time, we made the purchase and paid for the differences at our own cost. For after-sales issues, we may need slightly more time to investigate and process one by one, but please trust us that we will not miss out any of your issues and take the responsibilities arising from them.

We are a group of passionate people, we have our dreams and beliefs and we hope to bring more goods from more places around the world to more customers with the utmost convenience and more savings. We do not forgive ourselves when problems arise and neither do we push away our responsibilities. We learn and progress eagerly and we try our best to dig deeper and see through all problems so that we can have better preventative actions. 12.12 order volume was also higher than our planned capacity, but this time having more experience and adapting ourselves, many of you who made purchase during 12.12 and 11.11 may have already felt the improvement in the efficiency of order processing.

This Christmas, we are full of apologies and regrets, but we think to ourselves, no matter what, we have to make everything better in 2017 for you, we have to be more focused, dedicated to provide a fast and professional service. Again, I would like to apologize for all the troubles caused during the past 3 months for you and your loved ones. 2017, we reset and set out again.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

CEO on behalf of ezbuy team