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October 22, 2013

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Watchdog in health equipment warning

A HELMET said to improve blood circulation bought by a Shanghai resident this year was in fact made in a toy factory — and was useless, the city consumer watchdogs said yesterday.

This was among some 200 complaints about health equipment received by the Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission between January and June — up 17 percent on the same period in last year.

Officials put this down to an absence of national standards and supervision in the field.

While medical equipment producers are registered, approved and supervised by health authorities, producers of health equipment are not, according to the commission.

Some businesses take advantage of this vacuum and sell health equipment which does not meet claims.

Most complaints related to exaggerations of effects, and refunds were refused in most cases, said Qiu Weiling, an official in charge of health product complaints at the commission.

One customer complained that a shower room said to use infrared light to boost health had no effect. A request of a 100,000 yuan (US$16,129) refund was rejected.

Meanwhile, a consumer spent 80,000 yuan on a sauna treatment facility from a science and technology company — only to receive a water dispenser.

Not satisfied

In a survey of 1,741 people living in Shanghai, the commission found about 30 percent of families bought health equipment but often were unaware that this differed from registered medical equipment.

The survey, released yesterday, also revealed that more than 90 percent of those interviewed were not satisfied with the health product market.

About 34 percent said they believed health tonics have little effect and some 60 percent could not distinguish tonics from ordinary food and medicines.

In an earlier survey, the commission found seniors tend to be more easily convinced to buy useless tonics and medical equipment that they don’t need.

Nearly 30 percent of seniors were enticed to attend free health seminars, and 60 percent bought something, the survey found.



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