I find it really timely to read this thread as my hubby and I just returned from Melbourne yesterday. The travel agent told us our visa is valid for 1 year (multiple-entry) but we were only there for 5 nights. We were fortunate not to encounter any racism at the immigrations though we were queueing at the 'THINGS to DECLARE' lane cos when it's our turn, we went to a officer of Asian or Aborigini origin. He just took a look at our food items and let us go. It was 3am.
However, on our last day in Melbourne, we encountered a racist treatment which almost spoiled our holidays. I had purchased A$600 worth of merchandise from different outlets of a particular brand over our stay there and wanted to claim GST tax refund at the airport. The tax brochure clearly states that we can accumulate multiple receipts but we have to get the retailer to CONSOLIDATE all the receipts into 1 SINGLE invoice before we can claim tax refunds. When we went to the outlet nearest to our hotel in downtown Melbourne Central Shopping Centre, the lady manning the store was wearing the nametag of MANAGER. I thought, 'Good' she must know what to do. How hell wrong I was.
The moment we voiced our request for her to CONSOLIDATE the receipts - she said in a rude and condesending tone, 'NO, we don't do that.' We tried to show her that this is what the tax refund brochure states, she was not interested and repeated several times again annoyingly, 'NO, we don't do that. Tax refund is done at the airport'. I kept my cool and tried to explain to her that yes, we are aware that tax refund is only done at the airport but the brochures says to CONSOLIDATE all the receipts before the officers at the airport can process our refunds! She was not interested in what we were saying and just waved us off. We politely asked if she can check with her head office, she shook her head continuously, shrug her shoulders and kept repeating, 'WE DON'T DO IT!'. By now, some of the other customers in the shop was staring at us like some Chinese idiots trying to create trouble. She, being a MANAGER, was utterly RUDE even though she saw my receipts totalled S$600 of purchases from their brand! This is nothing but plain racism. We felt embarrassed by her treatment.
We walked out, went to our next shop (Country Road) and was served by a young pleasant Vietnamese salesgirl. When we told her that we wanted to claim tax refunds, she knew immediately what to do. She took our receipts, wrote down the purchase amounts into 1 single tax invoice, totalled the amount, got us to sign, and Viola! It's done in less than 5 minutes! We told her our encounter at the previous shop and she was puzzled as she said Melbourne Central is popular with tourists so they get such requests ALL THE TIME. So we took the sample invoice from Country Road and went back to the shop to show the racist manager. Instead of helping us, she that she DOES NOT have the invoice book and she can't do it for us. Throughout the whole conversation, she was very unfriendly and made us feel so unwelcome. We did not believe her and went back to Country Road to borrow their phone to contact the head office and explained our situation to 3 different persons.
Finally, to cut the long story short, after much ding-donging, the supervisor in the head office called the Manager of the store up and told her to follow what Country Road did and issue us a hand-written invoice. She insists that she received several of such requests everyday but she just told them 'WE DON'T DO IT'. After she put down the phone, she did not issue us the invoice immediately, she called 2 other colleagues in the head office to complain in full-view of us!! How rude. Surely she knew we could hear what she was complaining??! She was obviously damn 'buey-song' that she had to accede to our request. Then, she opened a little cupboard behind the cashier and know what? It was FULL of invoice books!!! She had lied to us!! We were very dismayed at her horrible atittude towards us - just because we are Asians.
It is a pity that our stay in Melbourne had to be tainted with such a racist salesperson but through our persistence, we got back A$90 in tax refunds. Still worth it but kinda leave a bad taste in your mouth. So much for my racist encounter in Australia. Sorry I wrote so much cos when you are victims of racism, you just want to vent and caution others.
While I empathise with your experience, I agree with pl4nx, this isn't so much rasicm as it is lazyness on the part of the Lady Manager. I've worked with people like that before and they are a royal PITA and should not be working in the service industry.
BTW, Country Road sells overpriced clothes manufactured in China (what isn't these days) - you are just paying for the brand name. Your money would have been better spent in an RM Williams store (better quality).