Mainland tourists forced to shop for fake products

A mainland tourist tells of being steered into buildings and pressured to buy fake products

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2012, 2:51am

Kou Qian, a pharmaceutical sales manager from Qinhuangdao in Hebei province, is left with bitter memories of her visit to Hong Kong.

She says she and 300 of her colleagues are the latest victims of forced shopping in the city.

"We're disappointed in Hong Kong," she said. "The city is famous for selling high-quality products but we only experienced forced shopping for fakes."

She said her employer had provided travel vouchers as staff incentives. "Most of us are sales managers from different provinces and had never been to Hong Kong before," Kou said. "Of course, we felt excited and were ready for some crazy shopping."

A week ago, on the first day of her tour, Kou's group were taken to some of the city's most famous - and free - sights, including Repulse Bay, The Peak, the Avenue of Stars, and the Convention and Exhibition Centre.

But the following day, the itinerary was taken up entirely with forced shopping in locked stores.

"The first stop was a building with no shopping mall and pharmacy nearby. The guards locked the doors after we were taken into a 300 square metre room on the ground floor," Kou said.

"There were several counters selling diamonds and jewellery, of unknown brands, but costing thousands, even tens of thousands, of Hong Kong dollars. The room was full of mainland tourists but no Hong Kong residents."

The tourists were locked in the room for over two hours. "The tour guide kept pushing us to shop, saying Hong Kong merchants are very credible and don't sell fake or low-quality products. Our group of 20 people spent more than HK$100,000 in total in that room."

The group was then taken to another locked venue where they were "pushed into shopping for watches there for hours", she said. "It was strange there were few world-class brands on sale."

Kou said she relented to pressure and spent HK$3,333 on a camera that she was assured was a famous German brand - even though the invoice said, "Place of production: unknown".

According to Kou's invoice, her group was taken to premises run by the Intercontinental Duty Free Group in Pau Chung Street, To Kwa Wan.

"We were naive to believe in the Hong Kong market," Kou said. "We were told it was credible, but that's just a tale."

Kou said her tour guide denied it was a forced shopping expedition and was indignant when Kou asked if she could return the camera for a refund.

"She said, 'How can you call us a forced shopping tour? We never robbed money from your bag. You paid and used your credit card to shop yourself. You can complain or call police. We don't care'."

When the Post visited the store yesterday, coaches were coming and going with tourists.

An Anhui woman said she was on a two-day shopping trip to the city but was not forced by anyone to spend money at the locations she was taken to.

"The company I work for paid for my tour. I just needed to pay a HK$160 tip to the tour guide," she said, adding that she spent more than HK$10,000 on the trip. She bought a Samsung Galaxy smartphone at the shop yesterday for HK$4,580.

Neither Intercontinental Duty Free Group or tour guides would comment on the issue.