Watchdogs need to bark
Updated: 2012-02-23 08:07
Why is it so difficult for Chinese consumers to feel safe even when they buy products with quality guarantees issued by the authorities?
Consumer angst about product safety has come to the fore once again following an anonymous post on the Internet on Feb 16, which claimed that the formaldehyde levels in the composite floorboards produced by Ark Floors, a Shanghai-based floorboard manufacturer, exceed the national safety standards.
Ark Floors has denied the allegation and has disclosed quality inspection reports for all of its products, as well as the results of the latest rounds of spot checks.
The quality inspection and supervision authority in Shanghai conducted tests of floors already in situ on Feb 19 and the results will be announced in five days.
Nevertheless, such is the level of public distrust about the watchdogs that are supposed to protect consumers that even if the results go in favor of Ark Floors, its products are unlikely to attain their former level of consumer confidence and popularity, unless it turns out to be a case of malicious defamation.
There are more than 100 authorized local quality inspection agencies across the country, but with recurring reports of manufacturers paying to acquire quality qualification reports for inferior products the public has not surprisingly lost confidence in such guarantees.
The whole system of quality inspection and supervision does have flaws. That is why the quality test reports provided by manufacturers cannot convince consumers.
But there can be no doubting the quality inspection agencies do have the ability, technology and equipment to verify the standard of products.
Neither the quality inspection agencies nor companies will benefit from the current situation if it continues in the long run.
And consumers need to be confident that when a product is declared safe, it really is safe.
(China Daily 02/23/2012 page8)