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Dealers use low quality wood to cheat furniture buyers

By Deng Jingyin (Global Times)

13:52, October 19, 2011

A furniture dealer Tuesday warned consumers to be wary of buying furniture allegedly made of red sandalwood, a rare and highly prized wood in China.

The dealer claimed that 90 percent of so-called red sandalwood furniture is made of cheaper wood to cheat customers, he told the Beijing Youth Daily.

Red sandalwood, a type of wood known as hongmu, has been prized for millennia in China. It was used in the construction of many historical sites, including the Forbidden City and royal tombs.

Fu Junmin, the director of Xmdj Furniture Private Museum, said Tuesday that many furniture manufacturers replace red sandalwood with other wood of a similar texture, but still charge high prices.

"They create names for the wood, like Brazilian or green sandalwood," Fu said.

An armchair made of red sandalwood can be sold at 300,000 yuan ($46,857), while that made from the "green" sandalwood is only worth 50,000 yuan.

"The huge profits lure unscrupulous manufacturers to make fakes," Fu said.

Consumers complain that it is difficult to distinguish red sandalwood from other similar species.

The government announced national hongmu standards in 2000, clarifying what kind of wood can be considered to be real hongmu, and that which is not.

Sun Shudong, director of material analysis department in the National Center for Quality Supervision and Inspection of Furniture and Indoor Environment, said they can provide test services for customers.

"If consumers are suspicious about the the furniture they bought, they can send it to us for testing," Sun said.

He said many furniture makers do ask for certification to guarantee their furniture, but the testing is not compulsory.

"It might be an industry loophole, but the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine does tests around the nation every year, to supervise the quality in this industry," Sun noted.

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