Every year China celebrates World Consumer Rights Day on March 15. There are lots of stories in the news about Chinese customers who have been swindled or didn't get what they paid for.
Usually the focus is on domestically-made goods, which everyone knows aren't high quality, but in an effort to feel more righteous, foreign brands were targeted this year.
After a two-month inspection by the Zhejiang Administration of Industry and Commerce (ZJAIC), the quality of imported goods from 30 internationally-recognized brands including Versace and Hermes were found to be below regulation standards.
ZJAIC's inspection found that for example, Versus jeans, Zara trousers, and Hugo Boss trousers were found to have problems with colour fastness; Versus jeans and Versace trousers had problems with low-fibre content; Verri jeans had excessive formaldehyde and Daniel Hechter and Hugo Boss trousers didn't meet the national standard pH value of between 4.0 and 7.5.
Then the report says some of these clothes retail for tens of thousands of renminbi, with Hermes trousers for 7,000RMB ($1,025).
It's a lesson to show slaves to brand names that these clothes can be dangerous not only for your health, but also your wallet.
"We want foreign brands to know we will conduct an equal level of monitoring on foreign products, and not just give the green light as we did in the past," said Ye Jianhua, spokesman for ZJAIC.
Interestingly there were no checks on where the fabrics came from... any guesses?
Yu Mingyang, professor of brand marketing at Shanghai Jiaotong University believes international brand names will have tarnished images as a result of the "poor quality".
"It is high time foreign brands stepped out of the shrines of worship and I believe in three to five years time, foreign brands will be less popular in China," he said.
While international name brands create an aura of prestige for the customer, it is up to the consumer to decide if they want to buy into that or not.
And judging by the amount of fakes available in the markets here, the worship of brand names isn't going to end anytime soon. The real stuff are tangible tokens of success, to show others they have arrived.
In the meantime, shouldn't China focus more on the quality of its own domestic goods? Perhaps there are too many complaints to mention in one report...