'This is discrimination': Woolworths slammed for 'refusal to sell' baby formula to Chinese-Australian mother

A Chinese-Australian woman is demanding an apology from supermarket giant Woolworths after not receiving baby formula she purchased online.

Sarah Kong ordered for four cans of milk powder from Woolworths online on New Year's Eve and never received her order even though she had a confirmation email and a date of arrival.

Shelves almost empty of baby formula with signs warning customers that they are limited to eight cans per customers in some Sydney supermarkets. Photo: Getty

When she contacted the retailer's customer service team for an explanation, she was told her account was deemed suspicious and her order had therefore been cancelled.

The outraged mother vented on Woolworths' Facebook page on January 3 as a way to get the matter resolved after receiving no call back, which reads:

“I placed an order on Tuesday 31st December for 4 cans of baby formula. Yes, I’m aware of the issues with supply, hey, I’m one of of the many mums out there affected by it.”

This is the comment Sarah Kong posted to Woolworth's Facebook page, which has since been deleted. Photo: Facebook

Ms Kong provides details of the emails she received with specific times and dates claiming that she had contacted the team for a refund.

She claims to have never done this and said she received an SMS late on Saturday night with a tracking number saying:

“Woolworths delivery reminder. Your order will be delivered tomorrow 3/01/2016 between 6:00 AM and 9:00 AM," it read.

The infuriated mother said she waited an extra 30 minutes in case the deliveries were running late and still received nothing.

She then called the Online Team at 9:34 am where she learnt her order had been cancelled and her account blocked.

“First of all, if this is your police why did my online order go through at all? Why did you take my money for products you were never intending to deliver?” she wrote.

“Secondly. Why wait to send out a vague email saying I had contacted the Online Team when I didn’t and that I’ll be refunded my money?

“Thirdly, if my order was cancelled the (sic) what the hell was the SMS for?”

Ms Kong further complains about how the supermarket is making feeding babies more stressful, commenting that it is "fraud" for taking her money and then blocking her account.

Ms Kong believes she didn't receive her order because of her Asian surname in relation to an alleged scandal linked to Chinese buyers which is blamed for leading to a shortage in milk powder.

"I was born and raised here so to be blocked from ordering food for my six-month-old daughter purely because of my [Korean] surname is not something I want to think has happened," she told Daily Mail.

Ms Kong said that it will be difficult to prove the reason behind the cancellation and believes that it may be "discrimination".

"I've lived the Australian life so it's not something you'd expect to happen. It's not nice to be discriminated and this is discrimination - I don't want to use this word but it is what it is," she told the publication.

Supply and demand: China's thirst for quality baby formula is leading to shortages in Australia as tins are siphoned off for overseas sale. Source: Supplied

Yahoo7 contacted Woolworths for a statement regarding the issue which said:

"Woolworths is trying to manage our supplies of baby formula for our online customers given the issues with supply and high demand.

"We have seen multiple examples of customers trying to breach the limits we have in place in our stores.

"In some cases we suspend accounts pending a confirmation that the order fits within our terms and conditions.

"Orders are automatically flagged when they fit a pattern associated with breaching terms and conditions.

"Customer names are not checked. Customers can then contact Woolworths if they believe their order has been cancelled in error at the call centre on 1800 000 610."

The retail giant have apologised saying that 'a very small portion are cancelled subsequently turn out to be legitimate and those orders are reinstated".

The ongoing baby formula shortage has been partly driven by opportunists buying milk powder in bulk and shipping it to China where they can sell it and make four times the price.

Woolworths accused of 'un-Australian' discrimination over baby formula

Woolworths has been accused of racism in the past after it gave differing limits of baby formula to its English and Chinese speaking customers.

In December last year a number of customers have noticed the side-by-side notices in Woolies stores across Australia with the English language sign saying customers can buy four tins, while the Mandarin sign limits it at two units.

The differing limits of baby formula was noticed by a number of customers. Source: Facebook

"Due to supply issues, sales quantities are limited to four units per customers for Infant Formula. We are working hard to be back in full supply as soon as possible," read the tickets photographed in stores and posted on the Woolworths Facebook page.

The adjacent Mandarin sign reads only two per customer.

Outraged customers said it was "un-Australian" and shameful.

Woolies said it was a 'ticketing error' and would pass on feedback to store managers. Source: Facebook

One customer wondered whether Woolies was intentionally discriminating against Chinese customers. Source: Facebook

Woolworths responded to a number of complaints on its Facebook page, saying it would pass on feedback to store managers.

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