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Consumer’s personal information leaked after complaint letter goes viral online

(People's Daily Online)    14:13, October 27, 2016

[File photo]

A customer who accused a Chinese food company of false and misleading advertising claims has been criticized and ridiculed online after he reported to the local government that the company’s snack did not “bring him good luck,” as its advertisement suggested.

The customer, surnamed Xie, who lives in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, filed a complaint with the local government on Sept. 19, accusing Want Want Holdings Limited of misleading customers and asking for 500 RMB in compensation. For decades, the company has been using the slogan “Having Want Want snacks daily will make your life lucky,” which Xie interpreted literally. As such, he was disappointed that “having Want Want snacks … has not brought me any luck.”

The local government sent a reply to Xie on Sept. 26, rejecting his complaint.

However, two days after Xie sent the complaint, he found a copy of his complaint going viral on Chinese social media. The complain letter contained his personal information, including his name, telephone number and address. Ever since, Xie has been besieged by harassment, with many strangers criticizing him as a “shameless person who just want publicity and easy money.”

“Many strangers have sent me text messages, ridiculing me for sending the complaint. Even my wife has been bombarded with questions like, ‘Is your husband the informer?’ or, ‘Did you get the compensation?’ I feel quite wronged, because my complaint was fair,” Xie told Beijing Youth Daily during an interview on Oct. 27.

“The leak of my personal information has worried me a lot. I resigned my job after this incident, and have been afraid to leave my house, because I fear people may find me based on my leaked address,” Xie said, adding that he cannot resort to legal action, as he has no idea who posted his complaint online.

The local government confirmed to Beijing Youth Daily that they didn’t post Xie’s information, adding that it is forbidden by law to leak that sort of personal information.

“Whether the advertisement is false or not still remains to be seen, but illegal disclosure of a citizen’s personal information should be punished,” said Han Yao, a Beijing-based lawyer.

Unlike Xie, many customers in the U.S. have successfully sued companies for misleading consumers. A number of Americans received $13 million refunds in total after buying Red Bull, a caffeinated beverage whose advertising campaign falsely claimed that the products “gives you wings,” in 2014.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Kou Jie, Bianji)

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