Asian American woman claims she had a ‘racist encounter’ at a Saks OFF 5TH store in Los Angeles

Tiffany Chen (@tiffanycheen) has taken to TikTok to share a hateful, racially charged encounter she had with an employee at a well-known department store.

Chen, an Asian American woman based in Los Angeles, went to the Saks OFF 5TH at the Beverly Connection to return a dress she ordered online. An employee, however, refused to process her return.

“So I’m fuming. We just had a racist encounter at the Saks OFF 5TH Avenue at the Beverly Connection,” Chen said. “I received my dress I had ordered February 17. I got it yesterday, February 24. I tried it on, I have my receipt and everything, in the original packing. And it didn’t fit me, so I brought it to the store to return.”


@saksoff5th is this how your company is?? Telling an asian customer a dress smells like soy sauce?? Blow this up #fyp #viral #racist #saksoff5th #westhollywood #beverlyconnection

♬ original sound – Tiffanycheen

“I brought it in and the woman immediately scanned my receipt, whatever,” she said of the situation. “And then she picked it up to smell it and walked over to her manager and basically was like, ‘I can’t accept this return.’ She didn’t want to accept this return because she said that this dress, mind you I only got it yesterday, had been worn.”

Chen said she wore the dress once to try it on.

“The kicker was she smelled the dress and said the dress smelled like soy sauce,” Chen continued. “Of all the things she could’ve said the dress smelled like, which, this dress doesn’t smell like anything, she looked at me and said, ‘Yes, it smells like soy sauce. You can’t return this. This is a damaged item.'”

Chen’s boyfriend, who was with her during the interaction, came to his girlfriend’s defense.

“Then obviously my boyfriend stood up for me and was like, ‘You can’t say that,’ and she called him rude,” Chen said. “She said she could say whatever she wants. Sure, but that means he can also call her out for being ignorant. He was being very calm.”

In a follow-up video, Chen says that the store’s manager “did apologize profusely” and her return was ultimately processed. Because the interaction still didn’t sit right with her, the company put her in touch with the VP Regional Manager, West. He assured her that “the company is very well aware of who this individual is” and a “full-scale investigation has been launched.”

The VP allegedly told Chen that “further diversity and inclusion training” will be done to prevent another incident like this from happening.

In The Know reached out to Saks OFF 5TH for comment.

“At Saks OFF 5TH, we do not tolerate discrimination of any kind and this incident was not consistent with our values. We conducted a full investigation into the matter and resolved the issue with our customer. The associate involved is no longer employed by the company,” Meghan Biango, District Vice President, Corporate Communications, said.

“This video was for the younger version of me”

“I wanted to film my reaction because this is definitely something that hits home for me, as I am sure other Asian American kids can relate to it…,” Chen told In The Know by Yahoo via Instagram. “I used to get bullied for the way my food smelled and I used to wish to ‘fit in’ and not have ‘weird-smelling’ food (As many other prominent Asian figures have stated, I did ask my parents to pack me Lunchables as well).”

“I just felt so shocked that someone would feel so empowered to speak to another person like that, and this video was for the younger version of me that, yes I am able to make my voice heard and make an actual impact so that future things like this can be prevented.”

“You handled this with more class and courage than that woman will ever have,” one commenter pointed out. “I’m so sorry this happened to you!”

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