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November 2, 2009

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Disappearing pool owner creates waves

A SWIMMING pool operator in an eastern China city is being hunted by Internet vigilantes because he allegedly shut the pool and left town without notifying his clients, who had paid thousands of yuan for membership.

The pool in Yangzhou City, Jiangsu Province, suspended its service last Wednesday and its operator, Zhang Yonghua, could not be contacted, Yangtze Evening News reported yesterday.

But later Zhang was seen on a local television program complaining about a substandard bicycle he bought for 30,000 yuan (US$4,400), which sparked outrage among those who had paid to join the pool club, the report said.

Zhang's motive is still unidentified as police said the swimming pool was running well and no debts had been discovered yet, according to the newspaper.

A woman identified as Min said she had signed a contract with Zhang for swimming lessons and had paid him 50,000 yuan until next September. A man surnamed Jin said he and his wife spent 2,700 yuan for membership until 2010.

A manager who worked for Zhang said he had called police to find his boss, and meanwhile planned to reopen the pool in mid-November.

Zhang's photo and personal data have been posted online, the newspaper said, after a pool user said it was absurd for him to defend his consumer's rights while members demanded their right to swim.


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