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Consumers' interests safeguarded
By Fu Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-15 23:42

Market watchdogs launched massive action nationwide to eliminate underhanded practices and better protect the rights of consumers, whose awareness has been increasingly growing.

The annual symbolic moves were organized to mark Monday's World Consumers' Right Day.

Together with nationwide branch organizations, the country's leading market watchdog -- the State General Administration for Industry and Commerce -- arranged activities Monday to destroy and burn fake products taken from sellers and producers.

The China Consumers' Association (CCA) also started a nationwide inspection on 10 industries to ensure business credit and consumer rights and interests.

Newspapers, TV channels and websites joined the activities to put the spotlight on the rights of consumers.

Consumers said they want protection and not just lip service.

"The market watchdog should not organize a protection campaign only on just one day; the authorities should crack down on market misbehaviour every day," Jiang Zhong, a Beijing resident told China Daily. "If they do that, the market will become better and consumers will feel more comfortable about things."

Wang Zhongfu, chief of the administration, pledged that his department will continue to play a large role in the nation's large-scale rectification of the counterfeit goods. Last year, more than 160,000 cases involving the production and sale of fake goods, and violation of consumers' rights were investigated.

Most of those cases concerned food, mobile phones, fertilizer and seeds, housing, cars and public utilities, such as electricity, natural gas, heating systems, communications and cable television.

"Nearly half of the cases were in the food sector," a survey result by the general administration indicated.

An administration official said that cases of cars and housing were still a hot topic.

"But the cases involving cars and houses are difficult to solve because the money involved is large and in many instances it involves a person's life savings," said an official asked not to be named.

For that reason more and more consumers are becoming concerned with issues, for example, product quality and after-sale service, she said.

Another factor is that it is only in recent years that housing and cars have both become affordable for the average Chinese consumer, and consequently few have any real understanding of these markets or the potential pitfalls.

This, combined with a vacuum in relevant service standards, leaves many consumers easy prey to unscrupulous dealers, said the official.

Wang Zhongfu also said tougher competition has also brought more dealers to realize the importance of their reputations and more and more are choosing self-regulation because they are eager to win customers with improved product quality and better after-sale service.

Wang Jiadong, director of the Beijing Capital International Airport Co, said the country's largest aviation hub kicked off a month-long drive to solicit air-flyers' opinions and complaints about airport service, and will award those who produce the most constructive suggestions and solutions.

But Wang Zhongfu also said administrative monopolies, forced deals and market blockades have become a cancer in China's domestic market.

He said his administration will tighten the nationwide campaign started since 2002 to fight local protectionism and maintain fair competition.

Teng Jiacai, general secretary of the CCA said his association will focus the annual inspection on quality, sanitation, safety, prices, logos of the commodities or services provided by the 10 industries and see whether there is any fraud incurred.

The industries are all closely related with daily life, including food, commercial housing, construction materials and house fitting-up, travel service, insurance, medicine and medical instruments, telecommunication and auto.

The CCA has conducted the yearly campaign to better serve consumers since 1997.

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