"If she is Chinese, she has to spend £1,000 to get the VIP voucher"

World Duty Free has apologised for its racist promotion against Chinese customers at its Terminal 2 store in Heathrow Airport.

According to the Independent, World Duty Free allegedly required Chinese customers to spend over £1,000 to qualify for discount vouchers whilst customers from other countries only had to spend £79 to receive the same treatment.

Weibo user Ren Jian Nai Pa who was working at the store advised a Chinese customer to buy her items to be eligible for the VIP voucher. The customer had around £300 worth of items in her basket but was told she was not eligble.

“I asked why… the cashier said because she is Chinese; if she is Chinese, she has to spend £1,000 to get the VIP voucher,” Ren Jian Nai Pao wrote.

Many were outraged by the incident, including Heathrow Airport. A spokesperson from Heathrow said, “we find this 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. This has fallen short of expectations from our retailers and we apologise for the offence this retailer has caused.”


World Duty Free issued an apology via Twitter in English and Chinese. The English part read, “As a global company we are committed to treating all our customers with respect and in a consistent and fair way.

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

“The VIP programme is designed to reward customers – on top of our normal promotions – at certain points of the year by offering an attractive incentive on a second purchase. The implementation of this promotion has been confusing which we sincerely regret.

“After close self-examination and having made further investigations, we have taken urgent steps to correct the implementation of this promotion going forward.

“We have comprehensively re-briefed our staff in our stores to ensure that the promotion is clear. This offer applies regardless of the destination customers are flying to.

“Once again, we would like to take this opportunity to apologise profusely to all our valued customers.”

The Business Insider reported that Chinese state media were furious at the incident and were not satisfied with the shop’s apology. Xinhua said that World Duty Free’s Chinese language apology explicitly addressed “the Chinese public,” but its English language apology did not.

“The Chinese text was obviously intended to iron out the outrage of the Chinese people both in China and in Britain, but its obscure and ambiguous English version revealed the true attitude of the company as it omitted key wording in the Chinese version.”

“The duty-free retailer’s promotional rules are neither clear nor transparent to customers. Nothing was mentioned at this stage about whether the company would punish those who are responsible, and no specific measures were given to solve the problem. […]”