So everyone's heard of the nasty food blogger who tried to ask for free food.
And I'm gonna blog about this too, even though many in the blogging community already have. Because I'm fucking pissed off. I was already pissed off when it first exploded, but I believed that after Lady Iron Chef clarified himself, everything will be resolved. In short, I believed that Singaporeans are smart, logical, and rational as a whole. Who am I kidding? They are not. I am, obviously, disappointed again.
As more and more people started debating about whether Bloggers should be recoined Beggers (Or Brad as Brat) and whether we all ought to be drowned in hot oil, it is now time for me to step up and blog about what I know.
For those of you who don't know what the fuck is going on, here's a clear as day timeline I've succinctly summarized for you:
PUBLIC OPINION DUE TO ONE-SIDED MEDIA REPORTS:
- Food blogger from LadyIronChef.com, Brad Lau, called restaurant Private Affairs to inform them that he will be arriving with 3 friends to have Sunday brunch. He think he who sia?
- TSK TSK! The restaurant closes buffet at 3.30pm and yet they ate till 4.30pm! How self-absorbed and inconsiderate.
- Bill of $435 came, Brad refused to pay and repeatedly told the restaurant’s chef, "I never pay for food in any restaurant."
- Restaurant waived off most of the bill and charged him $159 instead. Kindness personified.
- Being forced to pay, a bad-tempered and arrogant Brad threw his credit card at the counter and STOMPED OFF.
Naturally, after reading a report like this, people started being really angry with Brad and starting dissing him. People even posted up his home address and phone number and threatened to go visit him at 3am. Very free hor?
To know the full story, you must first be introduced to the leads!!!
And they are.... *drumroll*
Brad is the accused food blogger
Melanie does PR for Private Affairs!!
Harris is a food blogger!
Glenn Lee aka Hungry Epicurean
Glenn is also a food blogger who is friends with Harris!
I kindly put cartoon eyes on his face coz he is the only dude who apologized.
Kaelyn Ong aka My Food Sirens II
Kaelyn is food blogger no 3 and she is also friends with both Glenn and Harris.
Or at least they are all acquaintances.
The food blogging community in Singapore is small and most of the bloggers know each other. Within the community, Lady Iron Chef is arguably the second most popular following Ieat Ishoot Ipost. His blog was a Finalist for the Nuffnang blog awards held last year. An advertorial with him will range from approximately $1k to $2k.
They don't like him:
As recently as on February 22, 2010, Glenn, Harris and Kaelyn were invited by Private Affairs to FREE FOOD TASTING. (link)
I can't see Glenn's tweets as they are locked (coward), but on March 16, Harris announced he won't be partaking in anymore invited sessions.
Although in his post explaining why he is not having cheapskate invited sessions anymore (noble reasons, of course), he stated he is not personally attacking anyone and is not planning to sever ties with other food bloggers still doing invited sessions, his obsessive tweets clearly reveal differently:
(Chronologically from May till a few days ago.)
Oh how high and mighty! His majesty pays for all his food!!
Not only is it established that Harris has a huge chip on the shoulder about food bloggers not paying for food, he also is established to pinpoint Brad as one of them.
I don't know, Harris... You ate free food all the way till March... And you are SOOOOO disgusted with food bloggers who eat free food?? It seems a little odd to me, you know? A bit like a retired mass murderer who kaopeh about other murderers being cruel!!!
In the purple box I highlighted - that is the first evidence that surfaced which revealed that Brad went to Private Affairs to "ask" for free food.
Being a coward, Harris promptly deleted his tweet after the issue blew up.
The time this tweet was published was about 6.30pm. - Two hours after Brad and his friends finished their meal.
Following Harris' tweet, both of Glenn and Kaelyn blogged nasty self-righteous blog posts about Lady Iron Chef's behaviour. Glenn has since deleted his post.
Their source of information is predicted to be from Melanie Loong, the PR manager of Private Affairs. If it's not her then it's definitely someone from the restaurant.
Their blog posts sparked outrage in the community, with the result that it even appeared on Wanbao, the yahoo article linked above (the author deletes comments defending Brad! Fucking childish), and just yesterday, the Straits Times.
And what was Brad doing while all this happened?? He was in Phuket.
By the time he arrived back in Singapore and clarified on his blog, nobody was listening. It is way more fun talking about how much of an asshole he is.
And here, ladies and gentlemen, is a true account of what actually happened. (How do I know? The people who were present told me)
WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED:
Back in June 2nd, Melanie invited Brad for a food tasting session. Brad replied politely (you can see email exchanges on the previous link above), and on August 20th, inquired if the offer is still valid.
HE DID NOT WALK IN AND DEMAND FREE FOOD.
It was an INVITATION. Obviously someone from Private Affairs have been spreading lies that made it seem as if Brad swaggered in with 3 friends in tow.
Once on email, and once on SMS, Brad confirmed with Melanie that he will be bringing 3 friends with him. Never once did Melanie mention that Private Affairs will only give complimentary meals for 2 guests and not the other two.
Buffet is stated to last from 11.30am to 3.30pm. It is an ala carte buffet menu, meaning you order dishes from a menu and they will cook it dish by dish. Way before 3.30pm, Brad and friends have ordered their last dish. Knowing there was a rush for time, they even requested for desserts to come with their mains.
However, Private Affairs was tardy in food preparation and the last dish only arrived almost 1 hour later. How is this Brad's fault???
The bill came. It was for $260 (2 pax), and not (yet another lie) $435 as Private Affairs stated. They probably jacked up the price to seem as if they gave a larger waiver.
Brad was surprised and asked for Melanie and asked why he needed to pay. Melanie repeatedly stated that it is "industry-standard" (it is not) to only give complimentary meals to 2 people.
AT NO POINT DID BRAD RAISE HIS VOICE OR BE RUDE.
HE DID NOT EVER SAY "I NEVER PAY FOR FOOD IN ANY RESTAURANT." It is a LIE.
He agreed to pay, and graciously paid for his companions. When he paid the bill, he was rather pissed off so he admitted to putting his credit card into the folder with a bit more force than necessary. This action was reenacted to me by one of the guests present. It is nothing offensive, and it is DEFINITELY not "throwing" the credit card onto the bar counter as described.
It is stated that Brad "stomped" out of the restaurant. ANOTHER LIE. In fact, he left after thanking Melanie.
Melanie even asked chirpily, "Did you take many photos today?" and "Arrange timing to go down for dinner menu ah!!"
And what happens?
Immediately after this event ended, SOMEONE from Private Affairs contacted either Harris, Glenn or Kaelyn. Nobody knows how.
But we can guess why. Because they wanted the publicity? Maybe the complainer is just plain gossipy?
Not only did the restaurant conjure up a bunch of lies, they continued lying to all the other people who interviewed them later on.
Later on, when the internet community bashed Brad to no end, they farted out this dumbshit press release:
I don't know if an epileptic baboon wrote this but I've rarely seen a press release as irrelevant, moralistic and judgemental as this!!
The last paragraph is the most hilarious of all... THEY WANT A GOVERNING BODY SO THAT "SIMILAR INCIDENTS" DON'T OCCUR!!
What SIMILAR INCIDENTS??? Are you talking about restaurants backstabbing bloggers and telling lies to newspapers??
Or are you talking about PR managers failing to inform the invited bloggers that it's not complimentary then having the blogger eventually pay anyway??
Now, I mentioned I was pissed off. Why?
Because of the underhanded, malicious and yes, childish behaviour of Private Affairs.
Let me find a way to say this... IT IS NOT UP TO THEM TO SHAME OR LECTURE BRAD FOR WHATEVER BEHAVIOUR THEY PERCEIVED HIM TO DISPLAY.
WHO THE FUCK ARE THEY?
You don't like a blogger? FINE. Don't invite him ever again. You can even spit in his food the next time he comes if you want.
But to give other bloggers + newspapers petty details such as him arriving late or overstaying your stipulated buffet period? LOW, SO LOW.
After getting criticised by some for being a low-brow snitch, Private Affairs tried to turn the tables and act like Brad's actions were "unacceptable". What's so unacceptable? Being slightly indignant about paying and eventually paying anyway? YOU THEN FUCKING UNACCEPTABLE!
The whole affair has ended and obviously it even ended on a good note with Melanie inviting Brad to come back to try the dinner menu. WHY STILL COMPLAIN?? Major hypocrites!
If you are so full of cheebye integrity... Why the fuck are you inviting bloggers for free sessions? It is tantamount to a bribe right?
Having the cheek to ask bloggers to display "professionalism". WHAT IS SO PROFESSIONAL ABOUT BAD-MOUTHING YOUR INVITED GUESTS??
I deem Private Affairs' press release to be EXTREMELY inadequate. Please, if you have a clear conscience, explain truthfully how Harris, Glenn and Kaelyn would know of this issue if not for the fact that you blabbed. Explain it.
And explain all the LIES that you told. There are witnesses. Let's go to court if you wish to dispute anything I wrote here.
As my friend Priscilla wisely stated on twitter: If Private Affairs can be so vicious to their invited guest, what do you think they would do if you don't like their food?
Here's my take on some of the issues discussed regarding this:
1) "Rules" regarding payment - if a blogger is invited, does it mean he doesn't need to pay?
The answer is YES. Whether you like it or not, bloggers don't pay for shit, just as journalists who cover events don't pay for shit - unless they are going undercover.
Why? Because a blog post is WORTH ADVERTISING MONEY.
How much a blogger's blog post is worth is accessed by the brands. If they feel it's worth it, then they'd offer an invitation. If not, they won't bother.
You want publicity, you can give your favourite blogger a product or sponsor them a service. If they happen to like it, they will blog about it. If they don't, they are not obligated to.
Just as beauty products are often sent to female magazines in hope that they will get featured. How many lipsticks and bags are tossed away a month?
And just as the magazine is a publication, so are blogs.
By now most companies understand this fact. It is unfair if the blogger doesn't blog or blog bad opinions? Well life is a fucking gamble isn't it? If the company is annoyed with the blogger not blogging about their product, they can jolly well not ever sponsor the blogger again. Nobody is forcing them.
To ask a blogger to pay for a food tasting session is illogical. Why? Because the price tag on the menu is jacked up for PROFITS. Then how? Ask the blogger to pay for cost price?
You want me to hopefully blog about you and yet you still wanna earn my money? NI BU HUI QU SI?
Sure, restaurants can invite bloggers to go to eat there as paying guests, but without the added bonus of a free meal + the stress of paying for a meal, they might not turn up. A little bit of money spent (at cost price) in exchange for a high possibility of a blog post - I don't think it's unfair.
Angry about this? Companies can always choose NOT to get publicity via PR or advertising but through word-of-mouth. Good luck!
2) Is it wrong for bloggers to accept freebies?
No, I don't think it's wrong. As long as the review is stated clearly as an advert or a sponsored review, it's fine.
Maybe the line is a little more muddled for food bloggers because while someone sponsoring eye cream to me can't make their eye cream for me any better than those on the shelves, chefs CAN cook nicer food for reviewers.
But it's the same theory. When people can see it's a sponsored review, they should take it with a pinch of salt, and they do.
And if the blogger chooses NOT to reveal that it's a sponsored advert, then it's his integrity at stake. If he advertises shitty food all the time just so he can earn money, soon nobody will believe his reviews. Harris so anal-retentive about this for what?
3) Three guests?? So gian bng!!
Is it wrong for Brad to bring 3 guests? I don't think so. When I did my advertorials for Indulgz, the owner joyfully told me to bring as many guests as possible because she wanted to cook a lot of food for me.
In one of the adverts I had a group of six people including myself. Why didn't she mind?
Because she knew that...
- If more people came she can serve me more food and the advertorial will be longer and more value for money.
- If more people came, the ambiance will be more fun, exciting. This will put me in a better mood and thus give better reviews. Also, I will quote more people on their opinions of her food.
A sponsorship is a gesture of good will. If companies are going to calculative and petty, then I'd rather not deal with them at all! I'd rather just go on my own time, if I go at all.
Of course, bloggers should also not be bloody unabashed and bring a party of 10 and expect free meals for everyone. The key is communication. Bloggers should always state how many friends they are bringing, and if the business thinks it is not viable to sponsor meals for so many, they should state that too.
Who the fuck do I think I am? I'm a bloody popular blogger who can make or break a brand. You may think this is arrogance, but it is true, so suck on it.
You know what I hate?
Ganging up to bully Brad like this. You see he is so soft-spoken and nice very fun to bitch slap him right? PICK ON SOMEONE YOUR OWN FUCKING SIZE, ASSHOLES.
And Private Affairs? See if any other food bloggers will ever dare to accept your invitations ever again. Fuck you, you snivelling sorry excuse of an establishment.