Serena Xiao took to Facebook to express her dismay at the treatment she received from Kookai on May 20, stating that “Never have I been so poorly treated in a store before.”
Xiao claims she overheard a staff member telling a security guard to “keep an eye out of those two Asian girls,” and that when she left, the guards “manhandled my backpack and country road purchases,” inspecting her packed lunch, diary and laptop.
“Other customers were not handled in the same appalling manner. They did not even have to open their bags or compare the receipts to outside store purchases. What gives them the right to look through my private belongs as though I am a theft. Kookai is a racist and discriminatory store that I will never recommend to any of my friends,” she said.
Ms Xiao’s post, on Kookai’s public Facebook page, has attracted over 4,500 likes and prompted hundreds of comments from other customers with similar stories.
“I just wrote a complaint to Kookai … A similar thing happened to me tonight at the Melbourne Central store. I have no issue with any of the staff members, the ones which I came across were lovely, but Kookai may need to reconsider who they hire to carry out their security services,” wrote Alyssa Ho.
“Had similar experience walking into numerous Kookai stores in Melbourne. Most sales assistants don’t greet the “Asian” looking customers and ignore you for most of the time. Kookai probably have the worst customer service,” added Amy Zhu.
“I’m glad so many people are calling out Kookai for the appalling way their staff treat customers; I have to say it’s not confined to one particular store. Hopefully something changes. Sorry you had this experience, Serena,” wrote Leah Monk.
“This happened to me today too at the Melbourne Central store. Same thing security went through my bag..and it wasn’t just a look inside. He made me take stuff that I clearly purchase from other stores out of its original bag just so he could see inside, and that wasn’t enough for him he had to full grab the bag cause he was assuming I was hiding stuff inside those bags. I saw many other people with large amounts of shopping, walked out without even getting checked. And he went through my handbag as well. Some people are just racist and simply rude,” said Thanh Thanh Truong.
Kookai also responded to the Facebook thread, saying “Hi Serena, would you be able to leave us your email address so we can contact you directly to discuss this matter further? Thank you.”
But this only seemed to aggravate customers, with many calling for a public apology.
“Such pride they even want to discuss through email … The humiliation that you went through and an apology that you ‘might’ get will not ever make up for it. Thank God I ain’t a size o or ooo or o, 1 what ever it is,” wrote Annie Nuweegin.
“No public apology! Obviously Kookai management has the same appalling attitude as the local store. The attitude of YOUR employee reflects on YOUR brand …” wrote Sarah Luong.
In a statement to news.com.au regarding the incident a Kookai spokesperson said:
“Customers are our number one priority at Kookai. We are looking into the complaint and have made several attempts to reach the customer in the last 24 hours to discuss the matter. We are yet to hear back, and will continue to try to contact her.”