Con Cung cleared of product origin fraud charges

Monday, Aug 20, 2018 08:02

Baby products retailer Con Cung has been absolved of any wrongdoing following a thorough investigation after a customer accused it of labelling fraud. — Photo

An investigation into baby product retailer Con Cung has found that it had complied with all import and consumer protection regulations and possessed documents to prove origin, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has reported.

The investigation began following a complaint by a customer who said the the label had been altered on baby clothing he had bought.

The investigation found some minor labelling violations, and the ministry has instructed the General Department of Market Surveillance and its agencies to deal with Con Cung’s violations accordingly.

A Con Cung spokesperson blamed the violation on unskilled supervisors and operational errors, and vowed to follow rules related to buying, storing and selling goods.

Though its violations were deemed minor by authorities, the company said it had come under a great deal of pressure from customers, authorities and the media, and the customer numbers had dropped by around 20 per cent.

During the investigation, it had repeatedly claimed that it never sold smuggled or fake goods, and had only committed minor errors.

Dau Anh Tuan, head of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s legal department, told the Nguoi Lao Dong (Labourer) newspaper that authorities should have treated the company as innocent and not issued official statements about its “violations” while the investigation was ongoing.

The statements gave the impression that the company had committed wrongdoings, damaging its reputation and sales, and the brand would have a hard time regaining customer trust, he said.

“I do not know if the company will survive after this.”

He said companies were within their rights to sue authorities if they caused “damage”.

Dr Le Dang Doanh, former head of the Central Institute for Economic Management, said the Vietnamese retail market was seeing tough competition from foreign brands and local brands were facing numerous challenges, so actions that needlessly damaged reputations should be avoided.

Violations should not be publicised until they are verified, he said.

A Market Surveillance Agency official told the newspaper that nothing should be read into the investigation of Con Cung since even businesses that were not accused of wrongdoing are sometimes subject to inspections.

The ministry has instructed the agency to review its investigation procedures to “avoid troubling firms while ensuring consumers’ legal rights”, warning it would punish any official found committing violations during investigations. — VNS

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