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Shanghai Stores Hand out Refunds on SK-II
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While many consumers continued to boil while waiting for Procter & Gamble Co to make amends on its troubled SK-II brand cosmetics, some Shanghai department stores have taken matters into their own hands.

Pacific Department Store and Oriental Shopping Center outlets began giving full refunds on Saturday to customers who had bought SK-II products.

"We're providing refunds even if the containers are empty - all a customer has to do is show a receipt," a management official at Pacific's branch on Huaihai Road said yesterday.

In addition to giving refunds, Oriental Shopping Center outlets also asked customers to leave their contact numbers so the store could keep them informed of any updates from the cosmetics company.

The furor started early this month when China's quality watchdog discovered trace amounts of chromium and neodymium, two substances that can cause skin allergies and other health problems, in several popular SK-II skin care products such as whitening agents and facial creams. All the problem products were made by P&G in Japan.

Month's wait

The US-based consumer products giant set up a refund process, but many consumers became angry when they were told they'd have to sign a waiver that there was nothing wrong with the cosmetics and that they would have to wait a month to get their money back.

P&G suspended all sales of SK-II products on Friday and shut down its department store sales counters and its refund sites, resulting in further consumer anger. About 30 people gathered outside P&G's Shanghai branch to protest, and the glass was smashed on the company's gate.

Police were called to the Park Hotel on Wednesday to deal with some 400 angry consumers seeking refunds on SK-II products.

P&G said it shut down its counters and refund sites due to "security incidents."

The company is now handling all requests for refunds through a central telephone hotline.

The local department stores, meanwhile, said they would discuss reimbursement for their refunds with P&G, which could not be reached for comment.

(Shanghai Daily September 25, 2006)


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