29 May 2009
Consumers’ Rights and Manufacturers’ Obligations
5.5.1 Consumers' Rights
According to China's Consumer Rights Protection Law, the industry and commerce administration and other related administrative departments at all levels are responsible for protecting consumers' legal rights.
Under the law, consumers have the right to know the truth about the products and services they use. Depending on the nature of the products or services, consumers have the right to ask for information from the business operator on the price, place of manufacture, manufacturer name, usage, functions, specifications, grade, major ingredients, production date, expiry date, inspection certificate, instruction manual and after-sales service of the product; or in the case of service provision, the content, specifications and fees of the service. Consumers who suffer personal injury or property loss as a result of buying or using a product or service have the right to seek compensation in accordance with the law.
Consumers whose legal rights have been harmed in the course of buying or using a product can seek compensation from the seller. The seller can in turn seek compensation from the manufacturer or other sellers in the supply chain if these parties are liable for causing the harm.
5.5.2 Manufacturers' Obligations
Under China's Product Quality Law, manufacturers are accountable for the quality of their products. They may not produce goods banned by the state, forge or pass off certification mark or quality mark, make false claims with regard to the place of origin and manufacturer's name and address, make adulterated, fake or inferior products. If the defects in a product cause harm to the human body or damages to property, the manufacturer will be held responsible for compensating the harmed parties.
On the basis of the Product Quality Law, Consumer Rights Protection Law and other related rules, the mainland government has promulgated the Provisions on the Responsibility for the Repair, Replacement and Return of Certain Commodities, Provisions on the Responsibility for the Repair, Replacement and Return of Home Audio-Visual Products and Provisions on the Responsibility for the Repair, Replacement and Return of Mobile Phones. These provisions are aimed at protecting consumers' legal interests through spelling out clearly the responsibilities and obligations of the seller, repairer and manufacturer with regard to the "three guarantees", i.e. guaranteed repair, replacement and return of goods. A total of 22 types of products come under the "three guarantees" protection, including bicycles, colour TVs, black and white TVs, home video-recorders, video cameras, cassette-recorders, electronic pianos, home refrigerators, washing machines, electric fans, microwave ovens, vacuum cleaners, home air-conditioners, range hoods, gas water heaters, mobile phones, fixed-line telephones, micro computers, home audio-visual products, sewing machines, watches and clocks, and motor vehicles.
The Law on Solid Waste Pollution Prevention sets out an extended producer responsibility system. Under this system, manufacturers of products and product packaging that require high energy consumption and cause serious pollution such as electronic goods and outdated motor vehicles are not only held responsible for the quality defects of their products and for polluting the environment during the production process, they are also responsible for recovering or disposing of discarded product packaging and used products. Enterprises producing products requiring mandatory recycling or packaging listed in the product packaging catalogue are also responsible for recovering and disposing of product packaging and used products.