A Hong Kong convenience store decided to put up a sign that said that it would charge HK$10 (S$1.73) for every direction given, reported HK01.
An image of the sign has been circulating on social media.
On the top, the sign wrote in large fonts, "Fee for giving directions once: HK$10."
Underneath, it reads, "this company and the store assistants do not bear the obligation or responsibility to give directions. If [we have] a bad attitude, that should be considered acceptable as we do not owe anybody anything."
However, when HK01 visited the store on Mar. 5, the sign had already been removed.
Employees at the store told the Hong Kong news outlet that it only decided to put up the sign to reduce the number of enquiries it received from passengers.
Passengers would ask the employees where they can take cross-border buses, which could go up to more than a hundred per day.
After the sign gained traction on social media, the store concluded that it was inappropriate and took it off, reported HK01.
Store located at old address of cross-border bus ticket office
According to HK01, the sign was put up by SuperOne, a convenience store located at the intersection of Portland street and Pitt street.
Previously, the space used to house the ticket office of the cross-border buses which ferry passengers from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland and Macau, a bus driver told HK01.
The convenience store only took over the premise two years ago after the ticket office shut down during the pandemic.
When the borders between the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, and Macau reopened, the bus company moved its ticket office to Shanghai street, HK01 reported the bus driver as saying.
As such, those who couldn't find the ticket office or the bus boarding point ended up asking for directions at the convenience store.
Sign wasn't meant to target anyone: store manager
Speaking to HK01, the store manager, Yuki, explained that the sign was put up on Mar. 3, and it did not mean to target any particular groups.
She also added that she saw a significant increase in the number of people who asked her for directions after Hong Kong fully reopened its borders in February.
Yuki recalled that one morning, there were as many as 20 to 30 people that asked her for directions, with most of them asking for the location of the cross-border bus terminal.
However, even though she and her colleagues would always extend their help, they also felt annoyed by some rude enquirers who failed to thank them properly, according to HK01.
It was reported that other stores nearby also have to deal with a considerable amount of enquiries for directions.
Bus company failed to provide clear instructions
Yuki also told HK01 that the cross-border bus company's initial plan was to station an employee outside the convenience store to point passengers in the right direction after the borders reopened.
Additionally, the bus company had also set up a Covid testing station opposite the store.
However, the store manager claimed she had not seen any employees stationing outside her store, according to HK01.
It was only until the sign gained much traction online that an employee from the bus company started to show up outside the store, reducing the number of enquiries her team received substantially.
In response to the comments online, which label the store as "greedy" and "unempathetic," Yuki shared with HK01 that she hoped to seek the public's understanding as the store has never charged anyone since the sign was put up.
"The public didn't experience what we had gone through, so they wouldn't know what the situation is really like or understand our pain," she added.
Many enquirers had 'bad attitude': store assistant
Yuki's sentiments were also echoed by her colleague, surnamed Tseng (transliteration), who works as a store assistant at the convenience store.
"[We only put up the sign] because an outrageous number of people have been asking us for directions every day. On some days, there were at least a hundred enquirers asking where the bus station is or where to board the bus," Tseng told HK01.
The store assistant also added that most of the enquirers were tourists, and some came with a bad attitude.
"They never said 'thank you' after I gave them the directions as if it was my obligation to tell them where to get on the bus," Tseng recounted.
She also complained to HK01 that the enquiries had become so frequent that they ended up disrupting her work.
"Sometimes, while I was busy completing a transaction, some passengers would suddenly interject and ask where the bus terminal is. After I told them they could find it after taking a turn at the corner, they would leave immediately. However, [during this time,] I might already have a few customers lining up [waiting for their turn]," shared Tseng.
Nevertheless, the store assistant said the situation has improved now after the bus company put up a sign showing the new address of its ticket office and how to get there.
Top images via HK01