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February 25, 2011

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Huge crowds swamp Best Buy

HUNDREDS of customers rushed to the Xujiahui outlet of Best Buy to deal with issues of after-sale service, insurance and membership cards yesterday morning, after the appliances retail giant reopened two Shanghai stores following their sudden closure on Tuesday.

A long queue snaked along a pedestrian overpass in front of the store and needed more than 10 policemen to -maintain order.

The store, already empty inside, only had four information desks to handle customer inquiries. Since discussion about insurance or refunds took each customer some time, people had to wait at least two hours to be seen.

"It's crazy and dangerous," said a Frenchman surnamed Jerome, on seeing the long queue. He had intended buying an Internet cable, only to find the store closed and large crowds gathered around.

Li Juan, a local resident who came for a refund, complained that she had no idea how many people were in front of her or how long she would have to wait.

The police who were keeping order outside the store said they hoped the company could open more service windows or distribute numbers to people waiting to make the process more efficient.

Along with the Xujiahui store, Best Buy's outlet in Pudong Lianyang Square also reopened yesterday. The -after-sale services will last for one month.

Besides the worried customers, more than 100 employees who were not satisfied with the company's compensation went to the company to -seek further negotiation.

The local consumers' rights watchdog said yesterday that insurance was the biggest concern among consumers - according to their -investigation, about 70 percent of the inquiries were about insurance.

The Shanghai Commission of Consumers' Rights Watchdog said Best Buy should give full insurance refunds to consumers, deducting the amount from the years already passed on the policy.

Wang Junpei, a former employee with Best Buy who had worked there for five years, went to protest about losing his job and about the compensation plan. "The company will not talk to us … and we can only call the service hotline."

The company promised they would offer another compensation plan on March 3 for pregnant women or those who had just given birth, as according to Chinese law, they cannot be laid off.

Shi Houjin, a manager with the China International Intellectech Corp, said the pressure and concerns laid-off workers faced would affect their work and life in the future - the compensation packages will only provide temporary relief.

"The company should offer employment consultations and write recommendations for them to help them locate a job," she said. Shi also advised the workers to talk with friends and family members about their feelings.


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