Chinese consumers shrug off Sam's club’s ‘no-membership-reapplication’ warning as anger continues to boil up over Xinjiang products removal
Published: Jan 02, 2022 08:58 PM Updated: Jan 04, 2022 11:33 AM
Sam's Club store in Yizhuang area of Beijing  Photo: Li Hao/GT

Sam's Club store in Yizhuang area of Beijing Photo: Li Hao/GT

Chinese customers and netizens' anger continued to boil up after media reported that some stores of Sam's Club threatened customers who requested a membership cancellation that their memberships could not be renewed after they cancel the current card as the US supermarket brand has reportedly removed Xinjiang sourced products and angered Chinese customers. 

Consumers blasted the US-based warehouse club chain owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for its arrogance and shrugged off the "no-membership-reapplication" warning from its stores as they flocked to stores to return their membership cards, saying Chinese can totally live without shopping at the chain.  

A video clip posted by Chinese news media site showed that some Sam's Club stores in Central China's Hunan and East China's Jiangxi provinces warned customers who intended to cancel their membership card that they could not reapply for membership within six months after they return their current one. A store in Jiangxi even told customers that they could not reapply membership for "the rest of their life."

Staff members from Sam's Club stores in Beijing and Southwest China's Chongqing city confirmed the "no-membership-reapplication" rules, saying it is the company's standard rule for canceling memberships.

"The number of consumers cancelling membership cards has been increasing recently, but not solely because of Xinjiang products removal," a member of staff from a local Sam's Club store in Chongqing said on Monday, adding that the store does not have any products from Xinjiang at the moment.

Another employee from a Sam's Club store in Beijing said that her store has not received any notification to remove Xinjiang products from shelves, stressing that the products have just not been in stock yet.

A netizen upon reviewing Sam's Club reported card return policy asked: "is it threatening consumers? Does it realize it is in danger?"

"Do you think Chinese people can't live without Sam's Club supermarkets? Who gave you such confidence?" another netizen asked. 

There is no way [for Sam's Club] to earn our money while also smearing our country, a netizen commented.

Angry Chinese customers moved to cancel their memberships, in large numbers in certain cities, at the high-end membership store of Walmart, which has been found to have removed certain products from Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region right after US President Joe Biden signed a bill on December 23 which virtually bans all imports from Xinjiang in China with the so-called forced labor excuse. 

According to Sam's Club card cancellation rule, customers cannot join Sam's membership within 6 months after they return their previous membership cards. 

The same ID number or the same phone number will be regarded as the same member. If any member returns the card more than twice, he or she cannot register for membership any longer, read the rule.  

Cantaloupes and grapes, popular Xinjiang specialties, which were sold on the shelves of Sam's Club across China previously disappeared, the reason being they are out of stock. On Sunday, Sam's Club service line said Xinjiang products were still "out of stock." 

On Friday, after a wave of card returns fomented in China, a reporter from Chinese financial media said Sam's Club restocked Xinjiang products again at around 6:30 pm.

However, these products disappeared at 8 pm on Friday, said the report. 

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China and the National Supervision Commission of China on Friday published an article urging Walmart to show enough sincerity if it wishes to get a firm foothold on the Chinese market - the second largest overseas market for Walmart. 

"Behind the de-stocking of all products from a particular region without a good cause, there must be a hidden purpose. This showed stupidity and a short-sighted view and [the company] will become the victim of its own evil deeds," read the article. 

Sam's Club has more than 4 million Chinese members. If all of them bought the lowest level of membership at 260 yuan ($40.9) each, that would make the US supermarket earn 1.04 billion yuan, according to the article. 

Cracking down on Xinjiang products is yet another "card" played by Western anti-China forces, which is doomed to fail, warned the article. From H&M, Intel, to Sam's Club, these Western companies which claimed they were free from political interference "slapped their own faces," it added.

Neither Walmart nor Sam's Club has yet made an official statement on the matter. They neither confirmed nor verified the scale of Sam's Club membership cancellations.

Analysts said thousands of US companies are now kidnapped by Washington's political aim and ideological confrontation with China, and have to face a dilemma: show a political gesture by complying with the bill, or risk angering and losing 1.4-billion Chinese consumers.  

Global Times