facebookUsing Tissue Packets To "Chope" Seats. Does It Make Economical Sense?



Singaporeans use these items to chope seats at hawker

Using Tissue Packets To "Chope" Seats. Does It Make Economical Sense?

profileMing Feng

” Chope! This seat is mine!”

Chope-ing seat is the act of placing an item on empty tables to reserve seats while you go grab your food.

Like the way we order our coffee, chope-ing seat is uniquely Singaporean and this harmless act can sometimes result in disputes or inconvenience for other patrons.

Image Credit: The Independent Singapore

We understand that the action of reserving a seat with a personal item is a common task during lunch time.

However, with the rising cost of living and inflation, we wondered, “Is a packet of tissue paper the most economical way to do this?”

TL;DR – The Amount of Risk Singaporeans Take every day “Chope-ing” Seats

Increasing Cost of Tissue Packet

Singaporeans may want to think twice about using tissue packet to reserve their seats these days.

The habit of using tissue packet was built over the years when the cost of tissue packet was still priced at $0.10.

Thanks to inflation, a tissue packet now costs $0.30. With this increase in the value of a tissue packet, we decided to see if there are better alternatives to use for reserving seats.

Risk Of Using Tissue Packet To Reserve Your Seat

The most immediate risk of using a tissue packet to reserve seats is when someone decides to take the tissue packet and keep it for their own use.

This hypothesis is further confirmed by hardwarezone, a forum where Singaporeans share their daily woes.

source: hardwarezone

Should someone decide to help themselves to your tissue packet, it results in an instant loss of the monetary value of the tissue paper. 30 cents.

Ever wondered how much is $0.30 worth in years to come?


  • The rate of your tissue packet getting stolen is one packet every year
  • The cost of the tissue packet is $0.30

At this rate, following the law of compounding interest, here’s how much monetary value one loses out in the long run:

Number of tissue packets stolenInterest rateFuture Value
10 packets of tissue at $0.30 each.
(1 packet per year)

As shown above, a simple task such as having one packet of tissue stolen annually when “chope-ing” seat during lunch time can result in a future value loss of $5.34 if we compound it at an interest rate of 8%.

This is not taking into account some of the intangible costs such as the inconvenience and the uncomfortable feeling of not having tissue paper to wipe your mouth after lunch.

Common Items Singaporeans Use To Reserve Seats During Lunch Time

Image Credit: mothership

Tissue packets are just one of the many items which Singaporeans use to reserve their lunchtime seats at the hawker centre.

Here are some other popular items that Singaporeans use to reserve their lunchtime seats and how much they cost.

Commonly used items to "chope" seatsCosts
UmbrellasUsually more than $5.
Office Access PassIf lost, most companies charge $50 and above to make a new one.
SpectaclesCan cost more than $100.
BagsDepends, should be more than $10
NamecardLess than $0.10
(Some company print for employee for FREE)
Tissue Packet$0.30

Based on cost alone, the use of name cards seems like the most economical way.

Intangible Pros And Cons

We also look at the pros and cons of having these items left on the table during lunchtime.

Commonly used items to "chope" seatsProsCons
UmbrellasUseful when it is rainingExpensive when stolen
Office Access PassConvenient
(You need to carry it during lunchtime anyway)
Expensive when stolen

Takes a bit of time to replace

Possible office security implications
SpectaclesNone.Expensive when stolen

Lots of inconvenience to get it replaced.

May affect work performance
BagsAllows you to carry more things for lunch.Expensive when stolen
(Depending on what is in it)
NamecardFree publicity

Cheap/ Free
Possible privacy issue since your phone number is on it
(Can be a good and bad thing)
Tissue PacketRelatively Cheap

Practical use for it after lunch.
Cost incurred when stolen

After weighing the pros and cons, we noticed that we have a clear winner.

Not only is a namecard the cheapest option when compared with the rest, but it also has marketing value to it.

The only probable downside is that your work email and work phone number is on the name card, which can result in unwanted calls or email spam if you are unlucky.

“Chope-ing” Of Seats Improves Efficiency

There is a constant debate going on with regard to this “chope culture” in Singapore’s food centres.

Is our “chope culture” a practical life hack or an ungracious act causing inconvenience?

The downside of such practice is obvious especially when there is a misunderstanding, that results in a debate or quarrel over the “rights” of the seats.

On the other hand, “chope-ing of seats” does encourage efficiency especially for most of us when there is a limit to our lunchtime.

Here’s an example of two people going for lunch at a hawker centre:

  • Person A and Person B see two empty seats and “chope-d” it with a tissue packet each
  • Both A and B proceed to order their favourite food
  • Person A’s queue takes 10 minutes and while Person B’s takes 5 minutes
  • Both A and B require 15 minutes to finish their lunch

This method keeps the maximum time spent to be within 25 minutes and they can pass on the seats to others who are waiting.

In contrast:

  • Person A orders his food while Person B sits there to reserve both seats
  • Person A’s queue takes 10 minutes but he has to head back before Person B proceeds to order his food
  • Person B takes 5 minutes before heading back
  • They both finish their lunch in 15 minutes

The total time taken is 30 minutes before they can pass on the seats to the next patrons.

Why On Earth Are We Talking About Tissue Paper Again?

Long story short, we take on a certain level of risk every day. Sometimes these risks can result in a potential loss. Such as using tissue packets or *gasps* our bags to “chope” seats. Those people are damn brave.

Yet, when it comes to investing, we procrastinate over the risk involved and lose out on the advantage of starting early.

Here’s how we recommend you can bite the bullet and take a calculated leap of faith:
Gather knowledge, take calculated risks with the help of the Seedly community, and don’t be afraid make mistakes especially when you’re young enough to do so.

Will you still be chope-ing your seats with a packet of tissue paper? Let us know in the comments below.

About Ming Feng
A stint in Bloomberg gifted me with a beer belly, which only grew larger when I moved on to become a Professional Trader. Now I turn caffeine into digestible finance-related content.
You can contribute your thoughts like Ming Feng here.

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