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February 26, 2011

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Best Buys' 3pm opening leaves hundreds waiting

HUNDREDS of consumers had to wait hours when a branch of electrical retail giant Best Buy failed to open until 3pm yesterday to deal with their concerns.

Best Buy closed its nine outlets in China on Tuesday, including six in Shanghai, citing "a change of business strategy."

Two city stores reopened on Thursday to deal with after-sales issues. However, yesterday, despite hundreds of people waiting, the Xujiahui branch remained closed until mid afternoon.

"We were fooled! Best Buy said it would continue to offer an after-sales service, but that has turned out to be a joke," said Jean Wang, whose friend was in the queue and had asked her to buy takeaway food at lunchtime.

Police were also puzzled by the late opening. "We don't know why they didn't open this morning. However, for customers' safety, we got someone to open the store's door," said a police officer.

Former employees queuing for refunds for products expressed their dissatisfaction with Best Buy's staff compensation scheme.

Zhang Yan, who is five-months pregnant, was working in the store when she was informed that it was closing. Her husband, Wang Junpei, had been with the company since its first outlet opened in China in 2006.

"Compensation should be calculated based on the average of last 12-month salary, but Best Buy only referred to last month's salary, which is improper according to Chinese law," said Zhang.

No one from Best Buy was available for comment on the delayed opening at the Xujiahui store.

A local consumers' rights watchdog urged Best Buy to make an emergency plan to deal with refunds.

"The company is obviously not prepared for the current situation," said Zhao Jiaoli, secretary general of the Shanghai Commission of Consumers' Rights and Interests.

"We'll help them to work out a plan as soon as possible."


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