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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Consumer websites paid by dishonest firms

By Xu Chi  (Shanghai Daily)

08:57, March 16, 2012

Often praised as "non-profit, righteous guardians," privately owned consumer-protection websites are getting popular among locals, who use them as free online platforms to publish names of dishonest companies when they get cheated.

But it turns out these websites are working not only for consumers but are also dealing with the dishonest companies, demanding they pay money if they want to get their names off the blacklists on their sites.

The websites win the trust of consumers by collecting their complaints and publishing the names of dishonest companies.

But they then cash in by contacting those companies to offer expensive services to delete the complaints, or they simply wait for the companies to find them for such services.

Consumers waiting for replies from the consumer-protection websites are often surprised to find their complaints magically disappear because they were treated merely as bait for the websites to cash in, Shanghai Daily has found.

"Pay 1,000 yuan (US$158) now and you will see the complaint gone in one minute," a worker with one such website, 315w.com, told the reporter who posed as an e-commerce vendor.

As the reporter bargained, trying to lower the price, the worker warned the site would move the complaint to its front page and would not remove it until the money is delivered.

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