Acclaimed photographer and filmmaker Stefen Chow has vowed to never to purchase any product from cosmetics and skin care company The Body Shop after allegedly being subjected to racial discrimination at its outlet in Paris, France.
The multi-awarded Malaysian-born artist, whose clients include The Smithsonian, Time magazine, Geo, The Guardian, and many others, wrote about his experience in a lengthy Facebook post.
In his post, the 37-year-old artist accused the store’s staff and an assistant manager of being rude to him on November 12 when he purchased some items for his wife.
Chow, who claims to be a regular customer of the brand for the past 20 years, experienced the untoward incident at the 68 Rue de Rivoli outlet of The Body Shop where a mistake by a store employee caused an overcharge of €5 ($5.84) on his bill.
He narrated that he was told a credit card refund would not be possible because the store manager was away.
According to Chow, the staff reportedly “apologized profusely and asked me to come back the next day.”
“I was about to forget the five euros. It wouldn’t affect my day if I lost five euros. However, this was in principle the shop’s responsibility, so I went back the next day,” he noted.
However, he was shocked when he showed up the next day and he was met spoken to by a rude assistant manager who he claims talked to him in a “passive-aggressive manner”.
The manager, who Chow identified as Dorothy, said: “You got your bargain, what else do you want?”
“I was taken aback because I wasn’t expecting an argument. I explained that yes, there was a discount over the items, but I am still overcharged five euros – this was clear to me and the staff the day before, that’s why I was asked to come back.”
He was also surprised that the store clerk he bought from the day before began blaming him for the mistake.
“The staff started surrounding me, and I must say that I have never felt threatened in a hair and body care shop – until today,” he wrote.
The staff began accusing Chow of abusing them and even threatened to call the police.
“I knew at this moment it wasn’t about the five euros anymore. I felt very confused. The assistant manager then wanted to know my details, to know who I am. When I told her I live in Beijing, China (even though I am from Malaysia.), she rolled her eyes and gave an audible sigh,” he lamented.
Chow would eventually leave the store with a mixed feeling of embarrassment, anger, and confusion.
“This is 2017. In a very connected social media world. Do you think that blatant racism and atrocious customer service will still go unnoticed?” he asked.
Chow’s Facebook post has since become widely shared, generating over a thousand reactions and more than a hundred comments.
Hours after Chow’s post went viral, The Body Shop responded with an apology posted in the comment section, with a promise that the incident will be investigated.
“Dear Stefen, we are very sorry to hear what happened and please be assured that we will investigate right away. We really want to apologize for your experience and we really feel sorry for what happened because this isn’t The Body Shop spirit at all. Everybody is welcomed in our stores and we praise diversity. Could you please send us your contact details on a private message? The Body Shop French team”