The smallest guy in the class always gets bullied! Something that is so common and happening all the time in schools. Not just in schools but even in businesses, the small ones always get bullied too. That’s why size does matter!

Recently, a friend of mine shared his nightmare ordeal of dealing with a major shopping mall. He had just been engaged by a client to provide consultation in setting up a food and beverage (F&B) outlet in a shopping mall.

Soon he started getting excited working on overseeing the project, but little did he realise that his nightmare was about to begin.

For those of us who don’t have the need to deal with shopping mall operators, it has always been enjoyable to spend some time in shopping malls.

However, when you are a tenant of a shopping mall, then you will realise that you are at the mercy of these ‘big guys’ who can be really hard to deal with.

My friend’s initial elation of managing to secure a F&B lot with the shopping mall which is always next to impossible in a popular mall soon turned into dismay.

When the tenancy agreement was presented, his client still signed it despite the unfavourable timeline giving by the mall management to open the F&B outlet as he had run out of options.

However, after he signed the tenancy agreement with the mall’s leasing department, he soon realised that it is difficult to get the support of the other departments within the shopping mall.

The mall also has many other areas of compliance that require either documentation support or application filings through them.  One such basic requirement is the application for gas supply.

As he was applying for the gas pipe installation (through another department), he was told that it will take time for the supply. To his horror, he was told that the gas connection would take longer than the time agreed by the leasing department to commence operation of his F&B outlet.

So, my friend asked both the departments how it was possible for an F&B outlet to operate without any gas supply?

However, the reply from the leasing department was far from satisfactory, just a mere ‘we don’t know’. However according to the tenancy agreement the outlet is subject to penalty charges if it doesn’t open in the time stipulated.

He also received the same vague response from the department that deals with his application for the gas supply.

The gas supply is just one of the many unreasonable issues that my friend has to contend with. Throughout the whole process, he clearly feels the shopping mall is constantly bullying his micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSME) client.

The encounter wasn’t the first between shopping malls with MSMEs and won’t be the last. There have been many ‘bullying’ cases in the past.

The most notably one was the British India vs KLCC Suria case, which, the tenant British India came out the winner. Point to note: British India does have a reasonable size!

God bless SMEs!