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March 11, 2011

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Retail giants act over scandal

CARREFOUR SA and Wal-Mart Stores Inc are trying to improve their services to get rid of the shadow of this year's pricing scandal, in which the stores were fined for overcharging customers.

Carrefour Shanghai yesterday said they have recruited 10 volunteers to make secret inspections in their outlets on product -quality, staff service and the shopping environment.

The team will report the results to the company to help the outlets improve service, said Carrefour.

The volunteers were recommended by the city's consumers' rights watchdogs or local communities. Pierre Bertholat, vice president of Carrefour China, said the company plans to recruit at least 100 supervisors to cover all the outlets in the East China region.

Consumers can also make assessments on the stores' quality of service, as Carrefour is now installing a scoring system at check outs, for consumers to make assessments by pushing a button. Either "very satisfied," "satisfied," "just so-so," or "dissatisfied."

Carrefour also launched a consumers' hotline 4008-512-512 yesterday. Customers who are not able to settle disputes with outlets at the information desk can call the hotline to try and solve the problem.

Wal-Mart also said they are planning to recruit volunteers around the country to monitor the outlets' service and will ask pricing watchdogs to give training to employees, according to a company statement released this week.

The company will also strengthen the management of its pricing system to reduce instances of staff manually pricing labels in outlets, said the statement.

According to the National Development and Reform Commission, the two global retail giants have paid total fines of 9.5 million yuan (US$1.44 million) after being found guilty of cheating Chinese consumers.

China's top economic planning agency said each of the two retailers' 19 outlets has been fined 500,000 yuan, the maximum amount allowed under related laws.

In a notice on January 26, the commission said stores owned by the two retailers across the nation had overpriced goods, and -also overcharged consumers at check outs.


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