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Chinese furious at 'racist' duty free promotion at Heathrow airport

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 13/02/2018 Chloe Chaplain

© Provided by Independent Print Limited Heathrow Airport has condemned a duty free promotion which was deemed to be 'racist' towards Chinese people.

The promotional event held by World Duty Free, a commercial partner of Heathrow which runs shops in the busy airport, required Chinese travellers to pay a minimum spend of £1,000 to receive a 20 per cent discount.

Shoppers from elsewhere in the world were given the same discount after spending just £250 on goods.

Chinese customers took to social media platform Weibo to express their outrage at the apparent discrimination after it was written about in a blog post that was shared more than 75,000 times. 

a close up of a sign: planeoverheathrow.jpg © Provided by Independent Print Limited planeoverheathrow.jpg Mengyun Xiao said: “I am so naïve that I believed I needed to spend £500 to get the VIP voucher (coz It just changed from £300 to £500 today morning) before! The World Duty Free shop cheated me! Why should we suffer this unfair racism?”

Kayla Luo, accused the airport shop of providing “world class racist services” and Steven Li added that the promotion “is disgraceful and racial discrimination”.

“You think Chinese are rich and stupid? I am so disappointed with Heathrow International Airport," he wrote online.

Other customers commented saying they had experienced the same thing and one shared a flyer, written in Chinese, detailing the offer for tourists spending over £1,000.

A Heathrow spokeswoman said the airport deemed the offer “completely unacceptable”.

“We have been in touch with World Duty Free and have made it clear that all passengers should be treated with fairness and respect," the spokeswoman said. 

"This has fallen short of expectations from our retailers and we apologise for the offence this retailer has caused.”

World Duty Free posted a statement on Twitter apologising for the incident and saying it had taken “urgent steps” to correct the promotion.

“We are committed to treating all our customers with respect in a consistent and fair way,” the statement said.

“We would like to offer our sincere apologies to our customers who were in any way made to feel this was not the case.”

It said the “implementation of this promotion has been confusing which we sincerely regret” and added that staff have been re-briefed on the offer.

“This offer applies regardless of the destination customers are flying to,” the statement added.


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