Consumer complaints website allegedly profits from concealing complaints in China

19:07, January 05, 2011      

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A Chinese consumer complaints website was exposed Wednesday by China Central Television Station (CCTV) for taking money in return for keeping complaints off its website, however the website says CCTV distorted the facts.

According to the news program, the website (www.315ts.net) charges its "enterprise partners" an annual service fee of between 120,000 yuan (18,099.5 U.S. dollars) and 180,000 yuan, and in return conceals or shortens the time consumer complaints made against them stay online.

And, if companies opt for the VIP service called "brand direct path," consumer complaints against them are kept completely off the website, according to the report.

With an annual fee of 300,000 yuan for the "brand direct path" service, the website can help cut the number of complaints about a "partner" by 60 to 70 percent, Cao Zhiwen, the website operation director, said in CCTV's three-minute video clip, which was shot clearly with no consensus of Cao.

The website now has more than 100 "partners" and "none of them dare to quit," although the service fee for 2011 will be raised by 30,000 yuan, Cao said.

According to Cao, the website is under the auspices of the China Electronic Chamber of Commerce (CECC). The CECC is managed by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

The website is designed as a platform not only for consumers to lodge complaints, but also for enterprises to respond to the complaints to improve after-sales service, it said.

After the CCTV report, the website issued a statement on its homepage, saying the television program manipulated the facts.

"We hope the CCTV can release all the video it took with Cao Zhiwen, instead of fabricating news that substitute one thing for another," it said.

"The website's business operation and complaints management are separated and open. We welcome all kinds of supervision, but we will not tolerate any slander," the statement wrote.

Established in 2005, 315ts.net now deals with an average 1,500 online complaints every day, which are often used by dozens of Chinese media as sources of news coverage, the website said.

The dispute came amid rising media exposure of fake and shoddy products ahead of the World Consumer Rights Day on March 15. In past weeks, state broadcaster CCTV incessantly uncovered counterfeit products ranging from fake wine to "man-made" eggs.

Source: Xinhua
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