Shop staff may be all smiles but mainlanders don't buy it

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 September, 2004, 12:00am

Salespeople in Hong Kong shops may smile, but they lack sincerity, say mainland visitors.

And woe betide a Guangdong visitor who lapses from Putonghua into Cantonese - the smiles behind the counter are likely to disappear altogether, cross-border shoppers told pollsters.

'Visitors from the mainland think 'because I'm a customer, that's why you [the salespeople] smile at me ... you just want to earn more from me',' said Sherriff Luk Ting-kwong, principal researcher for the survey by Polytechnic University.

He also said many mainlanders believed Hong Kong shop staff had to brush up on their language skills, having found their command of Putonghua to be poor.

The researchers questioned 1,800 shoppers between June and last month. More than half were visitors from the mainland, and the rest locals and tourists from other countries.

Shoppers were asked to rate 10 factors, including price, quality, choice, service and shopping environment, on a scale from one to seven. The scores ranged from a high of 5.73 down to 5.13.

The highest score was for safety and comfort. 'There were a lot of reports on fake products in China. Mainland tourists have more confidence shopping here,' Dr Luk said.

Shoppers felt most satisfied with the service in jewellers and least satisfied with how they were treated in fashion stores.

Dr Luk suggested shop staff needed training in how to satisfy mainland shoppers' needs.