Consumers across China will soon need to dial just one number to have their grievances addressed, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) has said.
The new number, 12315, refers to March 15, World Consumer Rights Day.
"We have worked out a technical plan to support the unified number for sending text messages and are in touch with other telecom administers nationwide to roll out the service," Wang Dongfeng, deputy director of the SAIC, told Beijing News yesterday.
Local authorities should also enable 12315 to publish text messages to consumers, leading to a shift of focus from mediation to prevention, he said.
The 12315 short messaging service was first launched by Hefei, Anhui province. The idea caught on across the nation, with different numbers being used in different cities.
The bureau said it was keen to build a video information platform in suitable venues such as supermarkets and department stores, so that 12315 center can provide real time legal advice.
Moreover, the bureau expects the new 12315 service to attempt more interactive co-operation with local government, public security bureau, quality control administration of commodity prices and health bureau, in a bid to share information, inter-transfer cases, and combine executive efforts.
In a joint poll by Sina.com and Beijing News, 2,437 people were asked what the biggest stumbling block was in the way of protecting consumers' rights; to which 60.1 percent said the process was hideous and complex, 51.3 percent said the cost was too high.
"The future amendment of consumers' rights protection should establish an adequate compensation system," said Wu Gaohan, deputy secretary-general of the China Consumers' Association (CCA), referring directly to the problem of legal costs overshooting the money received as compensation.
The poll also shows that 58.2 percent people are disappointed with the inadequate achievement of consumer rights protection agencies, 41.3 percent think there aren't enough conduits to lodge a complaint.
Statistics from CCA showed that the consumer goods attracting the highest number of complaints last year were mobile phones (69,050 cases), garments (35,651 cases) and shoes (35,374 cases).
(China Daily 03/16/2009 page3)