October 6, 2022

Chinese Upset Over Counterfeit Furniture

Promoting itself as “a haven for premium products,” DaVinci is the place to go for Versace sofas, sumptuous Fendi Casa calf-skin couches or stylish chaise lounges stamped Made in Italy. A DaVinci bedroom set can sell for $100,000.

That’s why it set off a national consumer scandal when one of China’s biggest state-run media outlets reported last week that it had discovered a tawdry truth: some of DaVinci’s imported Italian furniture, the report said, is actually produced at a ramshackle factory in southern China.

Besides sullying DaVinci’s reputation, the revelations have raised questions about whether European furniture makers are keeping close enough tabs on their Chinese supply chain.

Maybe more significant, the scandal indicates that even in China — where consumers have long been willing to turn a blind eye to pirated DVDs and Gucci knockoffs — there are boundaries that no counterfeiter should breach. Not if the fakes are priced as high as the real thing.

“DaVinci plays a trick of mixing pearl and fish eye together, so we customers paid for pearl but got fish eye,” one customer complained in the Chinese news media.

In a Web outcry, customers have demanded refunds and posted details of how their DaVinci products turned out to be shoddily made or reeking of foul-smelling lacquers.

DaVinci, which was founded in Singapore before branching into China, tried to quiet the storm by holding a news conference last week in Beijing, along with European executives representing some of the luxury brands in question. But DaVinci’s chief executive, Doris Phua, fed the news cycle anew by breaking down in tears over loud interruptions by customers.

Ms. Phua insisted that the allegations were false.

That same day, however, customs officials in Shanghai said they had evidence that DaVinci was temporarily storing Chinese-made goods in a Shanghai warehouse, including cattle-hide sofas produced in nearby Zhejiang Province. The officials said that after a day spent in Shanghai’s Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone, the products — with the paperwork duly filed — were imported back into the country.

“Staying at the bonded zone for a day, the products changed from domestically produced ones to imported ones,” Zhou Guoliang, a customs bureau official, told Chinese news media.

Over the weekend, Shanghai’s official consumer watchdog agency ordered DaVinci to stop selling items bearing the label of the Italian brand Cappelletti, because of “fake ads” and “unqualified labels,” according to Shanghai Daily, the local English-language newspaper.

A spokesman for Cappelletti and the other European brands could not be reached for comment Monday.

The allegations first appeared early last week on China Central Television, China’s biggest state-run television broadcaster.

Now, angry people are using China’s popular QQ Web site to post information about other brands that claim to be from Europe, including clothing and a James Bond condom.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=862fc863ea3baa3330ff065200f20450

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