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December 16, 2011

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SOHO dispute with own sales team grows nasty

SOHO China, one of the biggest developers in the country, said yesterday it has fired a sales manager who was allegedly cheating customers to buy more apartments in a Shanghai project.

The manager, Hu Dawei, led a protest on Tuesday, claiming the company did not pay him and his sales team members their salaries and commissions amounting to about 4 million yuan (US$627,471).

SOHO, a Beijing-based company, denied the accusation and said it has sued Hu for fraud.

"Honesty is the basic principle we hold all the time," said SOHO on its official blog yesterday. "Any cheating on the customers or the company itself will be punished."

In Hu's view, this was just an excuse to fire him. He said the person in charge of the SOHO Shanghai branch is "hiding the truth from the public." Hu said he knew that he had been fired, together with his team, 50 members strong. "All I want to say is that I'm angry and disappointed," said Hu. "My team feels the same."

Hu joined SOHO in November 2009 and was promoted to sales director in Shanghai this year.

Dozens of members of his sales team stood at the front of the Shanghai Zhongshan Plaza, a new purchase of SOHO's, holding signs demanding their salary and commission.

The disputes between the two parties started months ago. In August, a customer surnamed Liu came to Hu's team to buy three suites in Zhongshan Plaza, a two-building property in downtown Changning District.

"To nail down the deal," said Hu, "I was told to sign a contract in which the customers agreed to buy four suites while the money was paid for the three."

He said the company told him the fourth one would be sold independently. But in December Liu was sued by SOHO for not making the down payment on all four.

"I thought SOHO had communicated with its sales staff about the real situation. It's too ridiculous," he said.

Another customer had a similar experience.

Hu claimed the transactions were "authorized by the head of SOHO Shanghai branch."


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