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July 19, 2011

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Illegal appliance-repair shops cheating victims

SOME black household electric appliance repair companies are pretending to be legal and are cheating consumers with exorbitant prices and phony work, a local consumers' rights watchdog group warned yesterday.

Officials say they are investigating.

Such illegal companies usually operate a website that appears reputable, and consumers can find their numbers through the city's directory inquiries. They may also distribute ads in neighborhoods, said the Shanghai Commission of Consumers' Rights and Interests Protection.

Consumers have complained that black companies charged service fees up to eight times as much as legal companies. A consumer surnamed Liu said that after her air-conditioner broke down, she called a repair center. The next day, a worker came to her home and added refrigerant to her air-conditioner and claimed that he had changed a part called the "inverse drive." He charged fees for refrigerant, the part and for his service. The total bill: 2,520 yuan (US$360).

Liu wondered why the repair would be so expensive, so she called the company that sold the air-conditioner, which told her that its maintenance department would charge only 300 yuan for refrigerant, and there was no such part as an "inverse drive" in air-conditioners.

Commission officials are investigating multiple cases and say they will report the black companies to the government to shut them down.

Officials reminded consumers not to search for repair companies randomly on the Internet.


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