P&G fails to keep promise on refund

(Shanghai Daily)
Updated: 2006-10-11 10:53

SK-II manufacturer Procter & Gamble has failed to uphold a promise to customers two weeks ago it would release a refund policy for the under-fire skin-care range.

P&G said on September 22 it would issue a new refund plan during the National Day Holiday after suspending its refund service because of security concerns.

Hundreds of customers rushed to refund service centers when state authorities announced they had discovered the heavy metals chromium and neodymium in the SK-II range.

The metals are banned from use in cosmetics in China.

P&G said yesterday the new refund plan was still "under discussion."

"We will issue the new plan after settling it with consumers watchdogs all over the country," said Wang Jun, public relations manager of P&G's China branch.

As of Tuesday, three of 14 shut SK-II counters in Shanghai, which were closed after the state authorities' announcement, have been let out to other beauty product companies.

One customer in Shanghai said she was considering legal action over the delayed refund policy.

Elaine Wang, a 28-year-old office worker in a shipping company, is calling on other consumers to join her fight with Procter & Gamble. She said she had already persuaded four other SK-II buyers to take part in the suit, which has not yet been lodged.

"I will file the suit as soon as enough people are in," she said.

In Beijing, law firm Lehman Lee & Xu is collecting evidence on behalf of four Beijing consumers who are also planning to sue P&G.

P&G said it had no comment on the legal action as it had not received an indictment.

Wang, who says she has used SK-II cosmetics for five years, claims she started to suffer skin rashes and nasal inflammations two years ago.

"I have spent more than 25,000 yuan (US$3,100) on SK-II cosmetics, and now I still hold more than 8,000-yuan worth of products," said Wang.

Hao Junbo, a lawyer from Lehman, said a refund lawsuit would be easier to win than a lawsuit over skin damage from the products.

"At present, as no consumers can prove that their skin rash is caused by SK-II cosmetics, it is very hard to sue for damages," said Hao. "But the request for a refund is easy to fulfill."

Hao said that according to China's Law on Consumer Rights and Interests Protection, manufacturers were required to give refunds if authorities confirmed the products were harmful.