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Auto dealers linked to needless repairs

2015-03-16 10:16:41Source:China DailyAuthor:

The Mercedes-Benz "Star Maintenance Menu" covers all conventional maintenance services with standardized prices at authorized dealers. [Photo /China Daily]
Many auto dealers in China are exaggerating the problems of vehicles that come in for repair in order to make more profit, according to a report by China Central Television in its annual 3/15 Gala program.

Seventy-three percent of dealers overstated a simple problem in the induction coil of the ignition system and talked consumers into having a number of components in the ignition system replaced, the report said.

The program, co-produced by CCTV and various State departments-including the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce-exposed business misconduct and defended consumers' rights. It has been broadcast annually on March 15, World Consumer Rights Day, since 1991.

A number of car dealerships, operating under Dongfeng Nissan Passenger Vehicle Co, Shanghai Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Hangzhou, have been charging consumers thousands of yuan for a simple problem that could be solved by merely plugging in the induction coil inside the ignition system. In one case, a Mercedes-Benz dealer in Tianjin charged a consumer more than 10,000 yuan ($1,600) to fix the problem.

The China Consumers' Association said in a report released on Sunday that it received the most consumer complaints about Shanghai Volkswagen last year, with a total of 863 complaints filed, Beijing Times reported.

Land Rover China also came under the spotlight, with CCTV reporting that a number of vehicle owners complained about gearbox problems that resulted in their vehicles suddenly stopping, as well as problems engaging the reverse gear.

Online shopping

China saw the largest rise in consumer complaints last year in the online shopping sector, with three times the number of the previous year, the country's market regulator announced.

Industry and commerce authorities nationwide handled more than 1.16 million cases of consumer complaints last year, up 14.3 percent from the previous year, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce said in a news release on Sunday. The number of complaints and the percentage increase were the highest in five years, the authority said.

The complaints filed against online shopping platforms and online stores saw the most significant increase last year, with a total of 77,800 complaints filed against online stores, according to the authority.

In late January, Taobao, China's largest consumer-to-consumer platform under the e-commerce giant Alibaba group, and the SAIC engaged in a public dispute over a quality-check report, which said that less than 40 percent of the goods sold on Taobao were authentic.

The authority said the online shopping sector has made it difficult for consumers to defend their rights because the sellers are often located hundreds of miles away.

Zhang Mao, minister of the State authority, said in a news conference last week that China's e-commerce boom was a new challenge for regulators.

"Issues such as fake goods and the difficulty in getting refunds for purchases have become the top complaints of online shoppers," he said.