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HKTVMall - customer service

A small follow up to my post on HKTVMall. 

Just to say that their customer service really isn’t great.

I ordered something that was supposed to be available within 4-7 working days.  Then just two days later I noticed that they had updated the order with a delivery date - the following day, at a time when no-one would be home.  So I contacted their customer service.

I opened the chat window and entered my question.  And waited.  And waited.  It took about 25 minutes for someone to respond.

Me: I notice you are planning to deliver this item tomorrow.
HKTVMall: The item will be delivered within 4-7 working days
HKTVMall: Monday to Friday
Me: That’s fine, but your website shows that it will be delivered tomorrow and no-one will be home
HKTVMall: Please wait, I'm checking the item.
HKTVMall: The item hasn’t arrived in our warehouse.
Me: So the information on your website is meaningless?
HKTVMall: The item hasn’t arrived in our warehouse.

That might look like a brief conversation, but it actually took 20 minutes (after the 25 minute wait for someone to appear).  To achieve precisely nothing.

Someone must have decided that they were planning to deliver it the next day, but apparently this information isn’t shared with their Customer Services team.

Needless to say, they did try to make the delivery the following day, and no-one was home.

I’ve had other deliveries that have been later than the (4 hour) timeslot, and others that have been several hours early.  And the previous time I tried to contact their Customer Services it took one hour for them to respond, by which time I had given up (but I hadn't closed the chat window, so I know how long it took). 

Quite a lot of work to be done on customer service, then.    


HKTVmall - Amazon for Hong Kong?

In Hong Kong your supermarket “choice” is largely between shops owned by Li Ka-shing (ParknShop, International, Fusion, Taste, and the Great Food Hall) and Jardines (Wellcome, Market Place by Jason, Threesixty and Olivers). 

It’s no surprise that this lack of competition leads to high prices and poor service, so alternative options are always welcome.

HKTVmall is a mini-Amazon, selling products from a wide range of suppliers, including some good quality imported produce at reasonable prices (e.g. frozen grass-fed beef and lamb, frozen wild-caught salmon, fresh cherries from Tasmania, fresh papaya from Hawaii, etc.), vitamins and supplements at much better prices than Watson or Manning (that duopoly again) and some electronic products.

They also provide free delivery if you spend HK$400 (or HK$250 if you’re a “VIP”).  I remember when ParknShop offered free delivery if you spent HK150, but now their minimum is a hefty HK$800 (Wellcome's minimum seems to be $500).  

The HKTVmall website and app are super annoying and although they do try to keep you informed on the status of your orders, the English versions are often confusing and incomplete:

  • “Our delivery team has picked up products in order xxxxx and will arrange delivery soon.”  Except that I had to collect it from their store.
  • “Product arrived at HKTVmall logistics centre, will be delivered soon.”  Not really sure how this one helps me - why not just send me a message when it’s actually ready for collection?

It’s entirely possible that the Chinese versions of these messages make more sense.  For example, Cantodict tells me that 送 can mean “send”, “deliver” or “dispatch”, which might help to explain the confusion.

But any competition for the ParknShop and Wellcome duopoly has got to be a good thing.


This is part of a series (of sorts).  The previous post was Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsburys, M&S in Hong Kong (with updates here)


Wrong MTR station names

Many MTR stations have really confusing “English” names on the official maps.

尖沙咀 appears as “Tsim Sha Tsui" on signs.  Good luck trying to pronounce that - and if your valiant effort is “Sim Sha Chewy” you won’t be understood by locals because it's actually more like "Jim Sa Joy".

紅磡 is shown as “Hung Hom”, but really it’s Hong Ham, which I always find confusing.

旺角 isn’t “Mong Kok” (as the MTR would have you believe), it’s "Wong Gok". 

上水 isn’t “Sheung Shui”, it’s something like “song soy”,

Some are more or less correct (at least to my tin ear), such as: 葵芳 Kwai Fong and nearby 葵興 Kwai Hing, and others are probably close enough, though it would help if you pronounce

  • 大 as “dai” (not “tai” as the MTR have it), 
  • 沙 as “sa” or “za” (not “sha”),
  • 上 as “soeng” (not “sheung”)

But why can’t we have simple Romanization that's easy to understand?


Man “falls on to tracks”

On Thursday I was on the southbound KCR (sorry, that’s the MTR East Rail Line) when the train came to a halt in the Beacon Hill Tunnel just north of Kowloon Tong station. 

Cue the usual announcement about a train being in the platform at the next station, but it soon became apparent that this was something more serious.  The MTR website eventually announced that there was “a trespasser at Kowloon Tong station”, though there was a less euphemistic version (now deleted) from @mtrupdate (an unofficial source of news about the MTR train service).

After about 25 minutes the train reversed slowly back to Tai Wai station, where there was no service in either direction and long queues for taxis.

The Hong Kong Standard managed this top quality piece of journalism:

East Rail services disrupted after man falls onto tracks dies

Train services on East Rail Line were disrupted for about 30 minutes after a man in his 50s fell onto the tracks at Kowloon Tong station.

The middle-aged man was certified dead by emergency services at the scene.

At about 13:46pm this afternoon, the MTR Corporation said normal train service is gradually resuming after the person has been removed from the track area at the station.

Trains between Hung Hom and Sha Tin station were suspended.

The grammar! The tenses!  “13:46 pm this afternoon”.  And the interruption was actually close to an hour, rather than 30 minutes.  But I can’t find anything at all from the SCMP.

When does the MTR plans to install platform screen doors on the East Rail line?  It seems that this will have to wait for the much-delayed (and misleadingly named) Sha Tin to Central link:

Delays on MTR link, lack of platform doors seen as suicide risk 

Sunday, 14 December, 2014

Delays to the long-awaited Sha Tin-to-Central link could have a human cost, suicide-prevention experts warned as they called on the MTR Corporation to speed up installation of platform safety doors at stations.

A total of 22 stations on the East Rail and Ma On Shan lines still lack doors, leaving open access to the track. They will be installed as part of the work on the new railway, which is due to open in 2018 but is behind schedule.

From 2005 to April this year, 27 people took their own lives on stations run by the former KCR - including all of those without platform doors. In the same period, Transport Bureau figures show, nine people killed themselves at other MTR stations, with none since 2011.

[..] A spokeswoman for the MTR said gates would be installed on the two lines during the Sha Tin-to-Central project, which would involve platform modifications and a new signalling system.

"As some East Rail Line stations are about 100 years old, the platform structure has to be strengthened and the curvature at some platforms has to be adjusted," she said.

But with the HK$80 billion project 11 months behind schedule - in part because of the discovery of relics at the To Kwa Wan station site - Yip fears more unnecessary deaths.

"We have talked to the MTR for almost a decade and it is a matter of urgency now," he said. "When you go to Kowloon Tong or Sha Tin, there is quite a bit of risk … there are more cases at these two stations."

Kowloon Tong station is less than 40 years old (and very busy), so why not start there?


Happy New Year / Tesco / M&S

Happy New Year and a quick follow-up to last month’s post on Tesco and other British supermarkets.

There do seem to be some bargains amongst the Tesco own brand products in U購select (and Vanguard*), including their basic cheese range (as pointed out by Private Beach in the comments), olive oil, nuts, and salad dressings.  They also have low-sodium salt at a fraction of the price of the branded product in ParknShop.

So it’s certainly worth shopping around.

* U購select and CR Vanguard?  No idea - it seems to be like that confusing fusion, Gourmet and International thing that ParknShop do.  This Wikipedia article claims that around one third of products sold in U購select are from Tesco, which certainly doesn’t apply to all their stores.

Also, confirmation that Marks & Spencer is selling its Hong Kong stores:

The clothing and food chain is selling its stores in Hong Kong and Macau to its longstanding franchise partner in the region, Al-Futtaim, for an undisclosed sum. [The] 27 stores will keep the M&S name under a franchise arrangement, which leaves Dubai-based Al-Futtaim with 72 outlets under the brand across Asia and the Middle East.