Price gouging for appliance repairs
Today most Chinese newspapers dedicated their front pages to announcing recent victories at the Olympics. Yet the biggest picture on the front page of the Chutian Metropolis Daily features two twin boys from a poor family who were both admitted to the Huazhong University of Science and Technology. They grew up in a rural village, cared for by their mother. They used to compete with each other over who could earn the highest grades. At university, one brother will study mechanical design, manufacturing and automation, while the other will major in computer science.
At the bottom of the page, another large headline reads: “580 RMB fee for an 80 RMB capacitor.” The article describes all the traps involved in maintaining household appliances. Apparently one customer repairing his air conditioner was ruthlessly ripped off. According to the article, the Wuhan Industrial and Commercial Hotline has recently been receiving an enormous number of complaints about after-sales maintenance of household appliances. People are being charged exorbitant fees. In response, on August 1, the Ministry of Commerce will introduce new regulations to manage all kinds of home appliance repair services. Regulations will include mandatory provider qualifications and fines up to 30,000 RMB for illegal business activities.
The article describes several incidents in the past, where individuals have been severely overcharged for relatively minor repairs to their appliances. In other cases, individuals have paid to have an appliance repaired, only to find it broken again the next day.
The article reminds readers that the Commercial and Industrial Bureau says repairmen should clearly lay out their prices ahead of time so that the consumer can either agree to the cost of repair or consider other options. As of Wednesday, all workers engaged in refrigeration and air conditioning work, electrical work and other special operations should have a license and special job qualifications issued by the state. The newspaper has opened a special hotline specifically for appliance repair complaints.