Picture gets worse for Da Vinci

Updated: 2011-07-19 07:53

By Zheng Caixiong and He Dan (China Daily)

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GUANGZHOU/BEIJING - As an official investigation continues, Da Vinci, the furniture retailer caught up in a scandal about the origin of its furniture, is refusing to give refunds to customers seeking to return their purchases.

The company issued a public apology on its website Monday night, saying it has started an internal inspection and promised to cooperate with the official investigation.

Da Vinci's franchised furniture store in the Guangdong provincial capital started business as usual on Monday, but a group of industrial and commercial law enforcement personnel arrived in the afternoon and sealed up most of the products.

"The store is cooperating with the local industrial and commercial administration in their investigation," said a saleswoman at the store.

"The products will quickly be sent to our customers after the industrial and commercial department has completed the investigation and removed the seals," she added.

She refused to forecast when the industrial and commercial department's investigation will be finished, but insisted that all the furniture and related products sold in the Guangzhou store are imported from Italy, Spain and the United States.

But the Hangzhou Administration for Industry and Commerce has ordered Da Vinci's outlet in the city to rectify the labels on furniture that does not specify the products' countries of origin and materials, an official surnamed Zhang from the administration's publicity office told China Daily on Monday.

Despite the negative publicity, business at Da Vinci's Guangzhou store is apparently still brisk.

"On Monday alone, the Da Vinci store received orders worth more than 1 million yuan ($154,560)," according to the saleswoman.

"And the store never lowers the prices to promote sales," she added.

However, according to local media, many Da Vinci furniture buyers from around the province went to Da Vinci stores last week demanding refunds.

One buyer surnamed Yang went to Da Vinci's store in Southwest China's Chongqing municipality on the weekend and asked whether she could return a sofa set and a dining table, both of which she claimed had "quality problems", Chongqing Morning Post reported on Monday.

The shop manager told Yang that the salesperson who sold her the furniture will go to Yang's home to take photos.

The shop manager said workers there will send all the evidence to their headquarters in Shanghai, and they will repair the furniture for customers if the quality problems prove true, the newspaper reported.

Other customers were accusing the company of selling products under false pretences.

Customers will need to provide solid evidence if they want to send back the goods or ask for compensation from Da Vinci, even if they claim the furniture was sold under false pretences or there are quality defects, said Qiu Baochang, the director of the consumer rights protection committee with the Beijing Lawyers Association.

China Daily

(China Daily 07/19/2011 page4)