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Mercedes oil leak scandal reveals urgent need for China to protect consumer rights

(People's Daily Online)    14:06, April 15, 2019


The recent Mercedes oil leak scandal in the northwestern Chinese city of Xi’an sparked outcry on Chinese social media, with many netizens calling on China to better protect consumer rights and interests.

The case started when a video clip, showing a woman crying on the hood of a car at a dealership in Xi’an, complaining that her newly-purchased Mercedes CLS 300 had an oil leak and asking for a refund, went viral on Chinese social media.

As seen in the video, the woman found the oil leak of the vehicle immediately after she picked up the car, before she drove it away from the car dealership.

However, after talking with the car dealership, she was only offered a free engine replacement, even though she requested a refund for the down payment of 200,000 yuan ($29,833) she paid for the 660,000-yuan 4-door coupe.

According to the woman, she spoke with the car dealership multiple times and filed complaints to the local market supervisor, but the case remained unsolved.

After the scandal boiled up online, local market supervisors and Mercedes finally spoke out. The Xi'an cyberspace affairs office said local market supervision department had placed the case on file and requested a refund from the car dealership, and Mercedes has also sent a workgroup to Xi’an to find a reasonable solution.

The woman reportedly raised eight requests to the investigation team, including an investigation into the history of the car, an independent inspection of the vehicle, and a formal apology from Mercedes-Benz.

Amid rapid social and economic development in recent years, China has witnessed a growth in car ownership. By the end of 2018, China was home to 240 million vehicles, and the country received 19,283 complaints about vehicle products through the China Consumers Association (CCA).

The difficulty for Chinese consumers to protect their rights and interests has long since been a pain point of the automobile market, as it is a long and costly process.

The Mercedes scandal once again highlights the company's service and quality issues, bringing national attention to the safety of luxury cars.

According to a recent CCA report, the organization received 550 complaints about Mercedes last year, the second largest figure among all carmakers. Additionally, the three major luxury brands from Germany - Mercedes, BMW and Audi - were all in the top five most complained about companies. 

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

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