Chinese hotpot chain Haidilao has been swept up in online controversy after a woman claimed that its restaurants keeps detailed files on customers’ restaurant habits and physical appearances.
According to South China Morning Post, a Shanghai woman by the profile name “Naliyouzhimiao” uploaded a post on local social media and e-commerce platform Xiaohongshu stating that Haidilao has been secretly keeping records of customers’ information such as their physical appearances and observed behaviors.
She uploaded a series of photos that show the hotpot chain’s supposed filing system, which is divided into four different categories. One of the categories, customer demands, shows detailed records of what certain customers ask for at the restaurant such as “plain water” or “hand-peeled oranges,” according to South China Morning Post.
Another category dedicated to physical appearances included descriptions such as “slim” and “healthy skin tone” written in the restaurant’s database.
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The woman wrote that upon discovering her post, which later went viral on Weibo, a Haidilao restaurant manager reached out to issue an apology while offering a gift as compensation.
Although many users expressed their belief that the database was an invasion of privacy, some said there is nothing wrong with the collection of customer profiles as long as the information is kept private.
An employee at the Shanghai Zheng Ce Law Firm, Chen Chang, said that keeping a file on customers’ profiles is not illegal as long as the information is kept private while displaying neutrality.
One user wrote, “I wish the pork chop restaurant I frequent could give me a label ‘no black pepper!’,” reported South China Morning Post.