My trip to Hong Kong was not a pleasant
one. Never in my life have I been scolded so pitifully by a
But it’s not just me, the whole tour
group felt the same way. I’ve personally witnessed some
major rudeness on the part of the local salesmen towards us
Hong Kong has the rich culture of East
meets West. Dynasties ago, it was part of China until
Britain won the territory after the Opium wars. In 1997,
Hong Kong was returned back to China under a ‘one country
two systems’ policy where it got to keep its own legal
system and free market economy.
Thus, with a history of Eastern
traditions and Western modernization, Hong Kong can be seen
as the fusion point of two hemispheres of thought. A lot of
its people are Buddhist, celebrate Chinese holidays, and
practice Feng Shui. The same people also have Christmas,
wear Burberry, and speak English.
Even the downtown architecture documents
its unique past. There are Christian schools done in gothic
styles next to pagoda tips of Chinese restaurants. You can
see modern skyscrapers reminiscent of the Sears tower while
observing the strategic Feng Shui point at which they are
The city, its history, its architecture,
its cosmopolitan appeal are all worth the time to explore
this unique island, but a thing that shocked me was the bad
attitude of the local salespeople.
So our tour group went shopping in this
little place with a mix of everything from perfume to video
cams to Chinese herbs. I went over to the sunglasses counter
to try some on. Just when I put on the first pair of Armanis,
this salesman came over and immediately told me that its
price was 600 yuan.
Here I was, just trying on stuff for
effect and the man upon hearing no reply from me
automatically lowered his price to 300. Then, I politely
told him I was not really interested, and out of nowhere, he
said okay, final offer I will give it to you for 200.
I was still silent and took off the
glasses. I told him I didn’t really want them.
“Is it the money?”
“No it has nothing to do with the price.”
“What?! Nothing to do with the price?!
Everything has to do with the price!”
“Um...I was just trying it on for effect;
I don’t really want to buy it.”
“Do not ask to try things on if you are
not going to buy it! It’s like if I’m a stranger and I ask
for your name, would you tell me?”
I was completely shocked by his rudeness.
I thought, salesmen are supposed to be gentle and suck up a
little if they want people to buy their products. But wow!
This one? Arguing with me just because I didn’t want a pair
of glasses? It felt like we were fighting, loud, coarse
Chinese words over his crazy hand gestures as he immediately
ignored me and moved on to the next customer.
And what an analogy! Me asking to try on
glasses and a stranger asking for someone’s name? I still
don’t understand his point.
Anyway, that was just my experience.
Something else happened with this lady in our group who
wanted to buy some bananas.
She asked the street vendor how much it
costs and upon hearing it was expensive, she muttered that
it was cheaper in mainland China. The vendor suddenly threw
her arms open and said with exasperation, “then go back to
the mainland to buy your bananas!”
Absurd right? Why the salespeople behave this way is
beyond me. I mean, if you want someone’s business, you have
to be courteous, not crass. Plus, it’s not really smart to
leave tourists with a bad impression of the city by making a
whip remark about fruits. If you’re going to sell something,
politeness should be free of charge.