A controversy erupted over a giant Teletubby in Hong Kong after a top shop made the family of a five-year-old boy pay for breaking the 1.8m-high statue.
Staff at the KK Plus store at Mong Kok in Langham Place mall had accused the boy of kicking the porcelain statue, worth around HK$50,000 [over £5,000], which shattered into pieces.
The boy was scolded by his family and they offered to compensate the shop for the item, eventually paying HK$33,000 [£3,400].
But days later, a video of the incident went viral online showing that the boy had actually only gently leaned against the statue while trying to avoid knocking into another customer.
The shop has now apologised the family and refunded the full amount they paid in compensation as it faced a backlash from social media users accusing it of “scamming” the family and criticising shop staff’s handling of the incident.
Commentators online pointed out that the Teletubby figure appeared to fall very easily, and was not protected with any kind of fencing.
The boy’s father, Cheng Pok-man, 39, was quoted by the South China Morning Post saying his son was “shocked and scared” on Tuesday, and had watched in horror as the statue fell and broke into pieces.
— Hong Kong Free Press HKFP (@hkfp) May 24, 2022
“He was trying to avoid bumping into someone and leaned lightly on the doll,” he said.
Mr Cheng said he had stepped outside the store to take a phone call. He was visiting the store with his wife and two sons.
After the video of the incident went viral, the father said “the employee seems to have misled us about how this incident happened”.
Mr Cheng also said that “the shop should have placed railings around the statue to protect passers-by and the statue itself since it could have easily fallen to pieces. Of course, as parents, we also have our responsibility as we failed to keep a close eye on our son.”
Kidsland International Holdings Limited — a listed toy retailer and operator of the KK Plus store — issued a written apology to the family. The money was refunded to them on Tuesday.
In the statement, the KK Plus store said the Teletubby figure had been at the same spot since last November and “has not brought any inconvenience to any customers before”.
The statement was, however, later deleted.
The five-year-old’s father said the boy had to take a day off from school after the incident. Mr Cheng said: “He took a day off school today [Monday]. Yesterday, he asked me three times why the doll was so terrifying.”
Local reports said the toy store opened as usual on Tuesday.
The Hong Kong Free Press reported that the manager of the KK Plus admitted the shop did not take the necessary precautions to prevent such an incident and promised to train employees to avoid such incidents in the future.
He said the store had removed all toys over a metre tall from the shop floor.