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July 18, 2011

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Watchdogs priced out of tests

QUALITY watchdogs couldn't afford to test products from a controversial luxury furniture retailer, it was reported yesterday.

Officials told The Beijing News they would have exhausted their budgets buying the high-end goods.

Shanghai-based DaVinci Furniture faces claims its 'Made in Italy' furniture was in fact produced in China.

And in Shanghai, the company was last week told to stop selling certain lines due to labeling problems.

Officials said items labeled solid wood were made from high-density board.

But no inspection reports for DaVinci could be found on the websites of national and city quality supervision authority and market watchdogs.

Both bodies are supposed to randomly select goods for quality tests on a regular basis and publicize the results on their websites.

Reporters could find no DaVinci products listed on wood furniture test reports for 2009 and 2010 on the Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine website.

And local market watchdog the Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Bureau also omitted the so-called high-end Italian products, the newspaper said.

Officials said they usually purchase goods for inspection themselves secretly in order to ensure they get standard goods.

However, buying DaVinci pieces, would use up most of their budgets, the newspaper reported.

Facing this situation, the authorities were inclined to choose ordinary or low-end products for tests, as more consumers bought these, said the report.

However, the Shanghai Quality and Technical Supervision Bureau told Shanghai Daily yesterday that as DaVinci furniture is said to be imported, the Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau should be in charge of quality control.

No one was available for comment from the Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Bureau.

Qiu Baochang, a lawyer with the China Customers' Association quoted by The Beijing News, said the supervision and management of imported goods has been inadequate.

"Officials assume expensive products with foreign brands will have no quality problems," Qiu said.

China Central Television first claimed products sold by DaVinci were sent to Italy and then back to China so they could qualify for import certificates.

Subsequent investigations suggested 10 percent of DaVinci furniture made in China was first transported to Shanghai's Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone before being sent to the company's warehouse in Qingpu District. It then qualified as an import.

Last Friday, Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau ordered the company to stop selling products bearing the Cappelletti brand because of problems with "fake ads" and "unqualified labels."


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