Harbour City makeup store sparks controversy over lipstick sampling limitation for mainland Chinese tourist

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AI-generated image for illustration purpose only.

26th February 2024 – (Hong Kong) A mainland Chinese woman expressed her dissatisfaction over an encounter at a renowned makeup store in Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui. She claimed that when she tried to sample lipsticks at the store, she was informed by the salesperson that she could only try a maximum of three free samples. Feeling discriminated against, she questioned this policy, stating that despite purchasing makeup products for many years, she had never encountered such a restriction before. She boldly declared, “I won’t be looking at this brand again!”

The incident unfolded when the mainland Chinese woman shared her experience on a popular social media platform, Little Red Book, under the title “Discrimination and Disappointment at Harbour City.” During her visit to Hong Kong, she explored the shopping district of Tsim Sha Tsui and entered a well-known makeup store to sample lipsticks. After trying out two shades and deciding they weren’t to her liking, she picked up a third lipstick, only to be informed by the salesperson that she could not receive any more free samples. This unexpected restriction left her surprised, and she commented, “After buying makeup for so many years, this is the first time I’ve heard of such a rule (limiting lipstick samples to three). Truly eye-opening!” Disappointed, she chose not to engage in an argument with the salesperson and simply walked away, heading to another makeup store across the street to continue her sampling.

The woman’s post quickly ignited a heated discussion among netizens, with some sharing similar experiences at the same makeup store. They described encountering “terrible attitudes” and feeling ignored by the sales staff. One comment read, “A few years ago, I experienced the same thing at Harbour City. There were no other customers in the store at that time. I asked, ‘Hello, do you have the xxx shade? I want to purchase it directly.’ The salesperson responded with an extremely rude tone, not even bothering to look up, and said, ‘I don’t know that shade. You can go over there and find it yourself!'”

While some argue that such incidents stem from poor individual service rather than discrimination, others contend that it reflects a broader issue of biased treatment towards mainland Chinese tourists by service industry personnel. One netizen stated, “Isn’t this discrimination?… Hong Kong and Macau claim not to discriminate, but it’s clear that’s not true.” Another added, “Some sales representatives from mainland China also have terrible attitudes. Furthermore, I don’t understand why being limited to three samples would be considered discrimination.” There were also comments suggesting that Hong Kong’s retail service is known for its lack of equal treatment, with one remark stating, “Retail service in Hong Kong is cold and indifferent to everyone.”

Netizens advised the original poster that if she felt uncomfortable, she could inquire about the policy or file a complaint on the spot. Suggestions included questioning the salesperson about the origin of the restriction or directly contacting the store manager or customer service desk. Some even encouraged her to write an email to the company to express her dissatisfaction.