Da Vinci admits some products mislabeled

Updated: 2011-07-23 08:12

By He Dan (China Daily)

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BEIJING - The scandal-hit furniture dealer Da Vinci told its Chinese customers it was "sorry" and admitted failing to properly label the country of origin of some products and adequately train the sales staff, who sometimes misled customers, in a statement released on Friday.

Da Vinci said in a statement on its micro blog, on the Twitter-like Sina Weibo, that its products labeled as Italian are 100 percent authentic.

But it conceded the Shanghai customs agency was correct in saying 3.5 percent of the company's "imported" products were actually made in China.

Da Vinci confirmed that some Thomasville products, one of its American furniture suppliers, were made in China, then sent to the bonded warehouse and finally sold to customers as "imported" products.

"We have realized that ... we failed to clearly inform our customers of the places of origin of that furniture," the statement said.

"It should be called 'cheating customers'," Chen Beiyuan, a lawyer in Guangzhou, told China Daily on Friday.

"This company has little social responsibility and treats customers as fools." Chen added that his law firm has received inquiries from about 10 customers of Da Vinci's outlet in Guangzhou.

Early reports said that the Shanghai Administration of Industry and Commerce had found problems with the quality of two bedside tables bearing Italian brand Cappelletti's label in Da Vinci's warehouse in Shanghai's Qingpu district.

In response to that allegation, Da Vinci said in its statement on Friday that it will refund customers or replace any furniture it sold that is proved by authorities to have poor quality.

The company said it will set up a hotline for the complaints on Monday.

Hao Zhiyong, a resident of Chengdu, in Southwest China's Sichuan province, said the Da Vinci scandal will teach wealthy Chinese a lesson about rational buying.

"Some who can afford the pricey furniture in Da Vinci's shops are not really interested in the real value of their purchases. They worship foreign luxury brands and bought them to show off their wealth," Hao told China Daily on Friday.

The bad publicity arising from the questions about Da Vinci has not only severely tarnished its image, but also dealt a heavy blow to the sales of other high-end furniture retailers.

Zhou Yufeng, China managing director of the French luxury furniture maker and retailer Roche Bobois (RB) Group, told China Central Television (CCTV) that almost all new orders of RB were cancelled or postponed after the media's coverage of the Da Vinci scandal.

Zhou said RB's sales dropped by 80 percent in the first half of July, compared with the same period of last six years.

Expocasa, a Shanghai retailer of European furniture brands, has also been affected by Chinese customers' shaken trust in the furniture industry, Chen Haibo, deputy general manager of Expocasa, complained on a CCTV program on Friday.

Chen predicted that Expocasa's July sales will drop by 50 percent, compared with last year.