‘Freeloader’ who scored a huge feast for less than £2 sparks debate in China

A woman who boasted her experience of spending just 17 yuan (less than £2) on food enjoying free snacks and customer services,  has sparked a heated discussion on social media. 

Haidilao, the hot-pot chain this woman freeloaded off, is famous for its generous customer service, which offers free snacks, manicures, shoe shines or even beauty treatments for people waiting for tables.

A screenshot from the woman’s personal Xiaohongshu account showing spending 17 yuan at Haidilao restaurant, freeloading snacks and hand care service. From Douban.


It is thought that the woman paid a small sum for a ‘side dish’ but then took advantage of a buffet-style meal at the restaurant. She then posted it on the Xiaohongshu app – which is similar to Instagram. 

The woman uploaded this post on her account in December last year, but it has only been fiercely discussed on China’s social media platforms Weibo and Douban since last week. She subsequently deleted some posts..

At present, Haidilao has not issued any statement on this incident.

Wang Han, an employee of Haidilao’s Nanchang branch said: “Carefulness, patience and enthusiasm are our service tenet, so I personally have no opinion on this kind of behavior.

“It’s up to you. If you want to do this, we will do our best to provide you with thoughtful service.”

People showed different attitudes towards the woman.

Hu Yujia, 21, a college student and a frequent visitor to Haidilao hot pot restaurant, said about the woman’s behavior: “If you want to save money, you can go to other small restaurants for meals. There is no need to be so vain.”

However, some considered that the criticism is unreasonable.

Xu Xin, another student who is also a repeat customer of the restaurant, said: “Since these are free services provided by the company, you have the right to enjoy.” 

In many posts she deleted but saved as screenshots by netizens, the woman showed off lots of freeloading experiences in other stores.

The hit rate of related posts on Chinese social media has exceeded 670 million, more than 51,000 netizens participated in the discussion.

Written by Rui Li

Student journalist at The University of Sheffield

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