News: Kohler, Ford, Infiniti in spotlight on China consumer rights show.
BEIJING (Reuters) – The Chinese unit of US bathroom and kitchen accessory maker Kohler, as well as car brands Ford and Infiniti, were criticized on Monday on Chinese state television’s popular annual consumer rights show.
In video footage, a man identified by China Central Television (CCTV) as a manager at a technology supplier for Kohler China said the company installed cameras in all of its Chinese branches to scan customers’ faces. A Kohler employee is shown that cameras help better target the sales effort.
“The camera can even recognize the mood of the consumer,” says the CCTV reporter while looking at the system.
Kohler’s China unit said in a statement it had “done corrective work” and removed camera equipment from their stories.
Kohler “only used the data from the system to count the number of customers and did not save, analyze, or transmit the data collected,” he added.
Known as the “315 Show” in China, the World Consumer Rights Day program over the years has highlighted foreign and domestic brands on issues ranging from poor quality products to illegal collection of personal information.
It has been known that big brands who fear they will air in prime time, prepare answers in advance just in case.
The show criticized Ford for faulty transmissions in several models, including the Focus, citing customer complaints. According to the show, Ford did not alert customers or actively address the issue.
Ford’s local joint venture with Changan said in a statement that the company would repair vehicles with affected transmissions free of charge.
Nissan Infiniti has been reported to be trying to discourage customers from complaining about transmissions in premium sport utility vehicles.
Infiniti said on its WeChat social media account it would improve customer communications regarding the criticism.
While China has been running a campaign against anti-competitive behavior by its tech giants, those companies were largely unscathed when it aired on Monday. However, UC Browser, owned by Alibaba, has been recognized for receiving medical advertisements from unqualified companies.
UC Browser could not be reached immediately for comment.
Beijing has stepped up consumer rights protection in recent years as China pushes to boost domestic consumption and reduce the economy’s reliance on imports.
The program has criticized companies such as Apple, Nike and Starbucks in recent years.
The country’s market regulator announced on Friday that it had received more than 21.3 million consumer complaints and made economic losses of 4.4 billion yuan in 2020 for consumers.
Reporting by Yilei Sun, Sophie Yu, and Tony Munroe; Adaptation by David Evans and Richard Pullin
Original Source © Reuters