Sephora accused of racial e-profiling

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

Sephora accused of racial e-profiling

Related tags United states

Beauty retail giant Sephora has been accused by four women of Chinese descent of racial profiling. They claim the brand closed down Asian customers’ accounts during a 20% off sale, due to a belief that they would have resold discounted products for a profit.

Sephora has since defended its efforts to combat reselling, calling it 'a pervasive issue' after shutting down numerous accounts earlier this month.

However, the New York Daily News reported that attorney Doug Wigdor disagreed, stating that; “This is an egregious example of a retailer singling out individuals based on racial stereotypes.”

According to Manhattan Federal Court suit charges, the deactivated accounts were almost exclusively associated with email addresses or names that appeared to signify Asian ethnicity, or tied to web domains originating from Asia.

Two of the plaintiffs named in the suit are New Yorkers: Xiao Xiao of Manhattan and Tiantian Zou of Queens.


The documents also claim that various users still have not been able to reactivate their accounts despite pleas they don’t hustle beauty products on the black market.

Brand is flooded with complaints

In early November, Sephora’s Facebook page was filled with complaints from customers with Chinese surnames posting from Asia, the United States, and Canada. 

Styleite took some screen grabs​ of complaints, like these you can see here on the right.

In a statement, Sephora stated site issues on international bulk buyers and re-sellers. 

Sephora statement

Sephora stated that it was taking steps to restore website functionality and that some of its' loyal North American and international clients got temporarily blocked as a result.

"We understand how frustrating it is and are deeply sorry for the disruption to your shopping experience. However, we have identified certain entities who take advantage of promotional opportunities to purchase products in large volume on our website and re-sell them through other channels."

Thus, the retail giant reported it had deactivated these accounts in order to optimize product availability for the majority of its' clients, as well as "ensure that consumers are not subject to increased prices or products that are not being handled or stored properly."

Related topics Business & Financial East Asia China

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