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January 8, 2011

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Service from auto outlets is 'poor'

AUTO service stores are providing a poor service for Shanghai customers, according to a survey by a local consumer rights watchdog.

The poll of more than 2,500 people looked at customer satisfaction with car manufacturers, 4S stores - which offer car sales, aftersales services, spare parts and undertake market surveys - and insurance companies.

4S stores' service received the lowest satisfaction index in the survey, said the Shanghai Commission of Consumers' Rights and Interests.

Consumers were most satisfied with the service offered by insurance companies, according to the poll.

4S stores are regarded as "legal" car repairers, compared to unlicensed mechanics' workshops.

Consumers, however, complained that 4S repair charges were "not transparent enough," and many felt they had been cheated.

One consumer, surnamed Wang, said he took his car to a 4S store with a slight scratch following a minor collision.

The 4S store, however, said he needed to pay more than 2,000 yuan (US$300) to repaint the car. Wang refused, and turned to unlicensed mechanics instead.

"We found that some 4S stores wouldn't sign contracts with their customers, so charges disputes sometimes occurred," said He Yonghua, director of the commission's automobile office. "In addition, some stores were not able to deal with consumers' complaints promptly."

The commission said the industry is in dire need of comprehensive regulation. "With regulations, governmental departments with enforcement power can monitor stores and hand out punishments if required," He said.

The Shanghai Automobile Maintenance and Repair Trade Association said it is urging member stores to improve customer service.


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