A man has filed an RMB 140,000 lawsuit against the online sales division of electrical appliance retailer Gome (国美) for mislabeling a TV’s energy efficiency rating. He is demanding a refund and three times the original selling price in compensation from the Beijing-based company. A Haidian Court in the capital has accepted the case, according to Sina News (in Chinese). Consumer rights legislation in China is actually rather robust if a complainant can get a case heard.

Mr. Wang bought three identical Samsung TVs from the well-known retailer’s online platform, a separate limited liability company. The televisions had 65-inch screens and were described as “Grade 1” for energy efficiency. Once he received the goods, Mr. Wang found that all the China Energy Rating labels on the TV sets clearly stated grade 2. As energy ratings were part of his reasoning for choosing the model and spending more on them for this, Mr. Wang contacted customer service for help.

A retail store of the main Gome division (Image credit: 123RF)
A retail store of the main Gome division (Image credit: 123RF)

He was informed by the helpline that the date for getting a refund had already passed and nothing could be done. So Mr. Wang took the case to court claiming that the company had misrepresented the product causing him to buy an unsuitable model.

According to China’s consumer protection law, if he wins, Mr. Wang is entitled to a refund plus three times what he spent in compensation which would run to RMB 140,000 for the three TVs. 

Gome has previously been sued for selling practices. A Mr. Ma took the company to court after not receiving the free gift promised with his purchase. He was awarded double what he paid in compensation and the company was ordered to pay his legal fees.

Consumer rights protection is becoming increasingly prominent in China where there is an annual TV gala held on World Consumer Rights Day on March 15. This year Nike and Muji were criticized. In previous years Apple and Volkswagen have been included in the extravaganza.

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...

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