Safeguard Consumer Rights and Interests

The State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), as the competent authority in charge of market regulation and related administrative law enforcement, shoulders the vital responsibility of protecting the legitimate rights and interests of consumers. To innovate in market supervision system, safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of consumers, and maintain an orderly market economy, SAIC has decided to facilitate construction of 12315 administrative law enforcement system.

I. Major Objectives and Tasks of 12315 Administrative Law Enforcement System Reform

The “ 12315” administrative law enforcement system is a vital innovation of Administrations for Industry and Commerce (AICs) in market regulation and consumer rights protection. Its objective is to implement the human-oriented philosophy into consumer rights protection, address the needs which consumers find most important, immediate and actual, more effectively safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of consumers, enhance consumer confidence and capability among urban and rural residents, and create a harmonious consumer relationship and safe market environment.

The “ 12315” administrative law enforcement system focuses on safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of consumers, covering not only consumer rights protection but also other fields of market regulation. Generally speaking, it is to build “three systems”, namely the administrative supervision system, industry self-discipline system and social surveillance system, as well as a nationwide 12315 information network, based on 12315 consumer complaints and reports hotline and network, so as to integrate information technology into law enforcement, and to further modernize consumer protection work.

(I) Setting up “five mechanisms”, optimizing and integrating law enforcement resources to build a unified and open administrative law enforcement system. “ 12315” administrative law enforcement system is an enforcement mechanism to improve efficiency of consumer protection established on the basis of the existed 12315 consumer complaint and report network covering the urban and rural areas of the whole country, which is a combination of five mechanisms functioning respectively in intensively accepting complaints and reports, collaborating and coordinating in case handling, giving instructions in emergencies, pooling and analyzing information, and providing tips to consumers.

(II) Promoting 12315 entry into stores, enterprises, and markets, innovating settlement protocol to safeguard customer rights at their roots, building and improving interactive and coordinated industry self-discipline system. The industry self-discipline system serves as an extension from 12315 administrative law enforcement system to industry organizations and business participants. It is necessary to guide operators to set up complaints sites in stores, supermarkets, fairs, wholesale markets, and major enterprises, to guide industry organizations and operators to set consumer disputes reconciliation system, self-discipline pledges and coordinated mechanism for safeguarding consumer rights, and to standardize operations so as to settle consumer disputes at their roots.

(III) Promoting construction of “one association and two stations”, innovating grassroots consumer rights protection systems, and building a social surveillance system by all parties. The social supervision system serves as a social extension of 12315 administrative law enforcement system. It is necessary to set up the institutions of one association and two stations in the countryside and urban communities, that is, to set up branches of the Consumers Association in towns and streets based on township governments, neighborhood offices, and grassroots AIC offices, as well as set up consumer complaint stations and 12315 contact stations in each administrative village and community, so as to accept consumer enquiries, complaints, and reports, and to reconcile consumer disputes. Such a system provides convenience for large numbers of farmers and residential consumers to deliver appeals, thus settling consumer disputes at the grassroots level.

(IV) Integrating information resources, strengthening network functions, and establishing a nationwide 12315 information network. The nationwide 12315 information network serves as a technical guarantee for building administrative law enforcement system. The system runs through five different levels from the SAIC to the grassroots offices horizontally, and links them vertically. We shall improve system functions on acceptance of appeals and reports, supervision of food safety, monitoring of pro quality, settlement of infringement cases, consumer safety warnings, settlement of emergency information, and assessment of work performance. We shall also link the system with other industry and commerce operations including economic hukou management, supervision of enterprise credit classification, classified registry management of individual operators, trademark inquiry, and monitoring of advertisements, so as to realize complete collection and centralized analysis of consumer enquiries, complaints and data reported, as well as to release consumer notices in time and to guide scientific consumption.

II. Construction of 12315 Administrative Law Enforcement System makes new achievements

In recent years, AICs all over the country have expended great effort to build 12315 administrative law enforcement system, and made achievements.

(I) Streamlining communication channels between the government and the populace, and improving strengths and efficiency of safeguarding rights and interests of consumers. The 12315 administrative law enforcement and supervision network serves as a window for industry and commerce departments to serve as a key platform for the people to participate in market supervision. Based on the network, the 12315 industry and commerce departments may receive customer phone calls at any time of day, with artificial service during the daytime and a phone-inquiry service system in operation at night. In some ethnic minority regions and famous scenic places, 12315 center offers phone-inquiry services in languages of minority nationalities, as well as English, Korean, and Russian. These services may meet customer needs on the spot, accept and settle customer appeals and reports in a timely fashion analyze market consumption situations and follow up market order, in addition to duly releasing consumption notices and market warnings. Currently, AICs nationwide have opened over 6,700 telephone lines dedicated to 12315 services, and have established over 2,700 acceptance seats. Accordingly, 12315 institutions of six AICs at provincial, autonomous region, and municipality levels have realized unified centralized acceptance of consumption disputes, and those of 302 AICs at municipal level have achieved comparatively centralized acceptance.

In 2006, AICs all over the country accepted 4,682,000 enquiries, complaints and reports from consumers, settled 722,000 cases when following the clues reported by consumers, saved 780 million Yuan of customer losses, investigated and settled 156,000 infringement cases with a total value of 920 million Yuan, providing a powerful guarantee for creating a favorable consumer environment.

(II) Improving self-discipline of enterprises, settling conflicts between operators and consumers, and creating a harmonious consumer market environment. By extending the operation 12315 system to many retailers, producers and marketplaces, the operators and consumers are encouraged to settle consumer disputes at the retailers and marketplaces where the disputes happen. Now AICs have set up green channels with 12,000 major operators to settle consumer disputes, and set up coordinated consumer rights protection mechanisms with 5,290 key industrial organizations.

(III) Extending the scope of consumer rights protection, facilitating urban and rural consumers to deliver their complaints, and promoting construction of harmonious community and harmonious towns and villages. AICs at all levels have expended great effort to build one association and two stations and have extended supervised protection of consumer rights down to the grass roots in urban and rural areas, in addition to having enlarged the social coverage of consumer rights protection, which facilitates urban and rural consumers to deliver appeals within their locality. At present, 5,778 neighborhood offices and 14,000 township governments have set up customer association branches, set up consumer complaints stations (12315 communication stations) in 270,000 urban communities and administrative rural villages. In all, 63 percent of communities and 48 percent of towns and villages have access to 12315.

(IV) Speeding up construction of an information network for consumer rights protection, and modernizing standards of safeguarding rights and interests of consumers. AICs have realized on-line acceptance, on-line distribution and transaction, on-line dispatching and feedback of customer appeals and reports, by establishing a nationwide 12315 information network running through five different levels from the SAIC to the grass-roots offices horizontally, and linking them vertically, improving the modernization standards of safeguarding rights and interests of consumers. According to partial statistics, 244 AICs at the municipal level have set up 12315 platforms for dispatch of customer appeals and reports, in addition to the 12315 data analysis centers established by 14 AICs at the provincial level.

(V) Promoting AICs to duly perform their functions, and setting a positive image of executing laws for the people. The enlarged 12315 social network of consumer rights protection promotes supervision of AICs, and enhances its social influences. “12315 hotline” has been using as the on-the-spot consumer complaint hotline, for seven consecutive years, in the “March 15 Gala of CCTV” for the International Consumer Protection Day, answering 11,000 consumer enquiries, duly settling 15,000 complaints and reports, and welcomed by the mass consumers.

With great support from the society and joint efforts of AICs, the 12315 administrative law enforcement system is expected to play a greater role in safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of consumers and operators, maintaining market order, building a harmonious consumer environment, and promoting quality and rapid development of economy and society.