Shop till you drop in China

December 17 2007 by Ellen Roseman

Shopping in Shanghai

Maybe we’re not typical tourists, but my husband and I wanted to go to China to see the the historical sights. Shopping was not our main motivation, though we do like bargains.

Our tour guides kept dropping us off at government-owned stores and giving us unlimited time to buy. They made commissions on our purchases (as they admitted when asked), so they were in no hurry to leave.

On the same day we climbed the Great Wall of China, feeling very tired, our bus stopped at three handicraft stores. We were treated to demonstrations of how they made jade, silk carpets and cloisonne (enamel with wires separating the colours). After that ordeal, we were all complaining, even the avid shoppers.

So, I was happy to read this news item, which ran in the Toronto Star on Dec. 7.

Shop-till-you-drop tour ends with police batons

MACAU– Riot police were called in to calm down 120 Chinese tourists on a windswept beach, who’d had enough of an itinerary they said was too packed with shopping.

About two dozen police with batons and riot shields faced off with the tourists from China’s Hubei province for nearly five hours Tuesday night in Macau, home of the only legal casinos available to gambling-mad Chinese.

The tourists – among the 22 million annual visitors to the former Portuguese-run enclave – protested that their tour guides had taken them to too many shops and pressured them into buying things.

Besides the air, this is something else to clean up before the 2008 Summer Olympics.

1 comment

  1. Ted Aaster

    Jan 6 2008

    Having lived in China for several years, including Beijing, I know the forced shopping phenomenon is true. This isn’t to mention the double standard pricing offered to non-Chinese customers.

    The previous blog article about customer service in Canada is apropos here in China. Among the many shortcomings of customer service are: staff lying to you in response to your requests, going back on their word about established pricing of goods and services, rude behavior in an attempt to mimic angry guests who are frustrated by the poor service and playing dumb about problems that are brought to their attention.