Faulty mobiles, bad service top gripe list

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 March, 2009, 12:00am

Defective mobile phones and poor after-sales service were the main gripe for irate customers last year, accounting for one in 10 complaints to the government's consumer watchdog, state media reported yesterday.

The mainland marked World Consumer Rights Day with acres of newsprint and a dedicated television show yesterday, a sign of growing awareness of quality issues and service standards in a country where 'buyer beware' has been the traditional mantra.

Figures released by the State Administration For Industry and Commerce showed that it received more than 780,000 complaints last year, up 2.6 per cent on the previous year, China Central Television reported.

Complaints about mobile phones made up roughly 10 per cent of the gripes, followed by complaints about clothing, shoes and telecoms services.

CCTV broadcast an extended show on consumer rights issues, focusing on key consumer grievances including unsolicited mass-marketing text messages and telesales scams.

The show featured a succession of cautionary tales of how unsuspecting consumers had fallen victim to unscrupulous sales tactics and products that failed to live up to their inflated advertising claims.

One such victim, identified only as Mr Jiang from Hunan, had been duped into paying 2,300 yuan (HK$2,600) for what he thought was to be a commemorative Beijing Olympics mobile phone with a 20-carat gold case. However, when the phone was delivered last month, Mr Jiang discovered 'not only was it not made of gold, it wasn't even gold-coloured'.

Lengthy direct-marketing adverts are now common on mainland television channels, particularly late at night.

World Consumer Rights Day has been celebrated since 1983, and is championed by the organisation, Consumers International.

The movement for improved consumer rights has its roots in the late US president John F Kennedy's declaration in 1962 of four basic principles: the right to safety, the right to be informed, the right to choose and the right to be heard.