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December 2, 2009

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Canceled coupons confuse customers

A leading local pastry company has voided more than 30,000 coupons worth over 600,000 yuan (US$87,873) since September, leaving customers confused and unhappy.

Shanghai-based Christine Food Co Ltd suspects the coupons were stolen and then sold on the Internet. City police are looking into it.

The coupons, now useless in over 500 city outlets, had an original expiration date of December 31, 2011.

"We have never recorded so many coupon losses," said a customer service manager, surnamed Huang, for the company, a contracted cake and bread provider for the 2010 World Expo.

Most of the coupons, bearing bar codes 200916080001 to 200916110000, were sold through online shopping services.

Their cancellation has stirred controversy among customers.

A customer, surnamed Gao, complained she bought 15 coupons worth 300 yuan from an online shopping service, but was told they'd expired when she took them to a shop, said the Shanghai Evening Post.

The company has its own complaints, however.

"We are also the victim," said Huang. "We have to explain to the customers again and again about the reason for the expiration."

Huang said the company posted a notice on its Website on September 12, soon after it discovered the losses, and alerted its outlets, which sell coupons worth over 100 million yuan a year.

The customers who bought the coupons might be out of luck.

"If the authorities conclude the coupons were bought in an illegal manner, the purchase is not protected by laws," said Lu Yiqiang, a lawyer with Xieli Law Firm, according to a newspaper report.


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