NANJING - Usually bustling KFC restaurants in Nanjing, capital city of eastern China's Jiangsu Province, were quiet with only a few customers, as disputes over the fastfood chain's suspension of discount-coupons continued into the second day.
Angry customers laid siege to scores of KFC restaurants across China Tuesday after the restaurant chain declared discount coupons the consumers had tried to use counterfeit.
KFC China said Wednesday that it would report the dispute case to police and assist authorities in any investigation, according to a statement on the website of KFC's parent company, Yum! Brands Inc. China Division.
Irate at being refused a 50-percent discount, consumers Tuesday besieged 20-odd KFC restaurants in Nanjing, while some KFC restaurants in Beijing were forced to suspend operations.
One of the irked consumers was Chen Tingting, an office worker in Nanjing.
"For four days from Tuesday, KFC says it will provide a limited number of 50-percent-discount e-coupons for some of its major products. Let's download the coupons as quickly as possible," Chen had told her office colleagues.
Information about the promotion was on KFC's "Super Tuesday" service on Taobao.com, China's largest e-commerce website.
The promotion, dubbed a "one-second act," was set for 10:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday and involved 100 e-coupons for each "act."
Chen Tingting said she read the instructions for the coupons carefully and printed them.
According to the instructions, the e-coupon could be used after it is printed; copies of coupons are also valid; and the coupons can be used from April 6 to 9.
But KFC rejected the coupons Chen printed and copied, even as her schoolmate, Ma Yun, received the discount.
After KFC rejected several customers, crowds besieged KFC restaurants, and KFC staff were forced to call police to help disperse the crowds at restaurants in Beijing, Nanjing and Nanchang, capital city of eastern China's Jiangxi Province, among others cities.
According to a investigation by KFC, some third-party websites offered downloads of the e-coupons in the second and third "acts." KFC had not authorized these websites to offer the coupons, and KFC decided to reject all coupons from the two "acts," the company said.
Tong Tianwu, head of the provincial consumers' association in Jiangsu, told Xinhua Wednesday the coupon directions said prints and copies of the prints were both valid, but that KFC had no mechanism to identify which coupons were downloaded from KFC's official website and the ones from unauthorized websites.
"The company had insufficient reason to suspend the discount-coupon offer," Tong said.
Yu Suning, a lawyer with the Jiangsu Gongying Law Firm, told Xinhua the coupons' directions for use were clear in terms of time, place, price and products, and that means a valid contract existed between KFC and its consumers. As such, KFC's suspension of the "acts" and related services may constitute contract infringement, Yu said.