Thursday, October 2, 2008

Mainlanders in Hong Kong

With mainland Chinese people celebrating the week-long National Day holiday, many who can afford it have flocked to Hong Kong to shop.

They come armed with wads of cash and plastic and make a bee-line for all the brand-name stores around the city.

There they clean up places like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Ferragamo and cosmetic counters as well, anxious to buy the real products in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

They definitely keep shop assistants busy, not only getting them tongue-tied speaking Mandarin, but also horrified at their demanding behaviour.

I was browsing the Gucci store when an obviously wealthy mainland Chinese woman was on the phone to her friend back home and loudly asking her, "So which bag did you want to buy? Tell me because I'm in the store now!"

Shop assistants stood around waiting for her next command.

And today in the Sogo department store in Causeway Bay, mainland tourists were fighting over sweaters and again two rich women harangued a staff member, accusing her of not giving them a good deal, when in department stores, the prices are set.

Meanwhile other staff observing this incident whispered among themselves that they were glad they didn't have to deal with these customers.

For Hong Kong, these Golden Weeks have become a double-edged sword -- on the one hand these mainlanders inject a lot of cash into the city, almost forcing staff to fall over themselves serving them.

But on the other hand, this almost kow-towing to these customers almost gives them the license to act as obnoxiously as possible, perpetuating their demanding behaviour.

However, as economies around the world are beginning to slow down, Hong Kong can't complain too much about its VIP customers who are only too eager to drop cash on a whim.

1 comment:

ks said...

History repeats itself. In the 50-60's the American sailors holidaying in Hong Kong did exactly the same. Remember the World of Suzy Wong? The Ugly Americans? Or in the eighties the rich Hong Kong people behaving the same way all over the world. The French in Paris had one time refused to serve the unruly shopping Hong Kong shoppers. Now you can hear them speaking Mandarin in big name stores in Paris. On a recent viit to Prague I was surprised to see tons of Chinese sales persons at Mosers selling Czech crystals. Money is the most effective driving force in a consumer oriented society.