“Shopping is the National Sport” of Hong Kong, so the joke often goes. But after purchasing items in Hong Kong and the US, you have to ask if this is the national sport, why is it done so badly here in Hong Kong?
The actual process of purchasing an item, say an iPod, here in Hong Kong is an exercise in silliness and bureaucracy, and most important, a total waste of time. Sliding into a large retailer like a Fortress or a Broadway (think Best Buy) will require some of the following steps:
- Ask to buy an iPod
- iPod is taken from the shelf to a counter space near cashier.
- Person fills out, by hand, a large 8×10 inch piece of paper saying you are buying an iPod.
- Clerk asks if you want to open box to see if it works (?)
- You sign this paper twice.
- You hand over payment.
- Payment is taken by salesman and given to a cashier in a back room.
- Credit card receipt is prepared, which you also sign.
- Big piece of paper, credit card receipt, and credit card are all handed back to you with a bag carrying your item.
- You separate card into your wallet and fold mis-sized receipt into pocket.
What a pain in the ass. It takes nearly 2-3 minutes to buy something and in the end you have two receipts (usually neither of which you can use for a return anyway) and it’s all in your hand, requiring you to fold or throw in the bag (after you take out your card). For a country that prides itself on shopping, this smacks of buying something at a country market in rural England in the Victorian era.
Now compare this to an iPod purchase in an Apple Store in the USA.
- Ask for an iPod
- iPod is taken off the shelf.
- Clerk scans iPod barcode with handheld scanner at your location.
- You hand clerk credit card.
- He asks if you want email receipt (you say yes)
- He gives you iPod and you leave store.
Total time, about 30 seconds. You don’t move. It’s all done right where you are and you are out the door. The receipt usually hits your email before you even exit the store.
So I sit and wait and pray that Apple opens a formal store in Hong Kong, not necessarily because I need more access to the products, but because I don’t want to go through the Faulty Towers process of purchasing something. I just want it NOW so I can get on with my life.
End of rant.