China-based e-commerce megasite Alibaba is catching heat in its home country following a government report that scolds the company for lax controls over the sale of bogus goods to consumers, along with allegations of bribery and using its size to bully merchants from working with Alibaba’s competitors. [More]
Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba is the world’s largest online marketplace, and its wide reach has a downside for consumer safety. Retailers and consumers alike use the site to source parts and products directly from factories abroad. The lack of intermediaries makes it very easy to order products that have been banned in the United States for safety reasons, and that’s why the Consumer Product Safety Commission has teamed up with the site. [More]
Everyone knows that the “genuine designer handbag” going for $20 from a street vendor is neither genuine nor designer, and indeed may not even hold up as a bag. But when you go to a reputable retailer and spend what it costs to replace the tires on your car, you expect to get what the real goods. Alas, Consumer Reports has found: just because there’s a brand name you know on the outside of a tire, doesn’t mean you’re getting what you should be.
Have Americans finally had enough cheese-stuffed crusts? That could be. We just aren’t flocking to Pizza Hut restaurants like we used to in past decades. Instead, competing chains like Papa John’s and Little Caesar’s are munching on slices of what used to be the Hut’s business. [More]
Last week, a group called out a Samsung supplier for alleged exploitation of child labor in a Chinese factory. This morning, Samsung announced that it has suspended its business with this contractor after its own investigation turned up some sketchy hiring practices. [More]
Here’s another to add to the list of product names that don’t travel well: Burger King China’s PooPoo Smoothie, which may conjure up images of… well, I’d rather not say, but your inner grossed-out 8-year-old knows what I mean, but which has nothing to do with excrement and is apparently not awful. [More]
If I had a nickel for every time my donkey meat snack turned out to be fox meat instead, I’d have no nickels. But there would be plenty of coins coming in for customers at some Walmart stores in China after tests showed that what was labeled as “Five Spice” donkey meat was tainted with the meat of other animals.
Monday was a holiday here in the United States, but many people are still comfortable with the idea of honoring our military veterans with crass commercialism. You see “Veteran’s Day” sales here and there, but it’s not the commerce powerhouse that it could be. Over in China, though, November 11 is the biggest online shopping day of the year. [More]
Last year, reports surfaced of a woman in Oregon who bought Halloween decorations from at Kmart, pulled the unopened package out of storage a year later, and found a letter inside from the factory worker in China who packaged them. This was no lighthearted note. It was a desperate cry for help secretly written at night inside a Chinese labor camp. [More]
Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics manufacturing firm, is at the center of controversy once again after admitting to pushing student interns to work overtime in advance of the release of the upcoming Sony PlayStation 4 gaming console. [More]
While some Apple enthusiasts might have been put off by the colorful plastic shells of the new iPhone 5C, it’s hard to complain about the $99 price point. Even the full, unsubsidized price of $549 is lower than what you’d pay for many new, comparable smartphones. But customers in mainland China are scratching their heads and wondering why they are being charged $733 for what is supposed to be a bargain phone. [More]
Who doesn’t miss their pets while on vacation? If you can take them along to a critter-friendly locale, that’s excellent. If you can’t, it’s better to find a sitter. And if you’re trying to smuggle your pet turtle onto a plane inside a hamburger, it’s time to rethink your entire life. [More]
Two Chinese entrepreneurs came up with a brilliant business idea: they bought regular old no-name condoms from a factory in one province, and bought packaging material with the globally recognized brand name of Durex, as well as Russian name brand Contex and China’s own brand Jissbon. When all of these big brand condoms started hitting the market at cut-rate prices, the authorities noticed, as the authorities tend to do. [More]
The beauty of shopping online is that it’s easy to bring products from all over the world into our homes with a little bit of typing and a major credit card. The problem with buying from abroad, though, is that products for different markets don’t come with the same consumer protections. And sometimes you don’t know that you’re buying a product destined for a different market at all. That’s where Cassi’s cautionary tale comes in. From a small discount site, Cassi bought a Samsung MP3 player. Samsung tells her that it was made for the Chinese market and that if she wants them to honor her warranty, she has to fly to Hong Kong. Being a sensible person, Cassi does not want to fly to Hong Kong over a $200 MP3 player. [More]
Not enough meat on your McDonald’s burger? Throw another patty on. Still not sufficient? Forget going for a third patty, when you can just toss on a couple of sausage links. [More]
If there’s anything that people across the globe truly need and want, it’s more fizzy sugar water. And so PepsiCo is investing more money in getting the attention and the business of consumers in the world’s largest market. Their latest attention-getting scheme and bit of inter-brand synergy between two of the company’s signature brands: Cola chicken-flavored Lay’s potato chips. [More]
“Imported Chinese jerky?” you might be saying. “Who would buy their pet any food from a country whose safety standards would shock Upton Sinclair?” Lots of well-meaning Americans are feeding their dogs and cats imported treats. Every year, the United States imports 86 million pounds of pet food products from China. Some of that food is jerky that’s packaged and sold under brand names you may recognize: Waggin’ Train (Purina), Canyon Creek (Purina), and Milo’s Kitchen (Del Monte) are the most common. Now thousands of pet owners claim that these products may have sickened or even killed their animals, and demand recalls and justice. The only problem is that the FDA can’t find any proof of harmful chemicals or pathogens in the meat.