The shanghai Consumers' Association yesterday warned newlywed couples to be careful in selecting wedding service companies to avoid besmirching a "lifetime happy occasion."
With young couples attaching much importance to a special and perfect wedding ceremony, demand for wedding services in Shanghai has moved into high gear. Statistics show that about 80,000 local couples marry every year in the city, and 80 percent of them spend 30,000 yuan (US$3,614) to 50,000 yuan each couple on an elaborate wedding ceremony.
While wedding service firms are basking in the boom, grievances are not far behind. So far this year, the association has received 33 com-plaints about poor service.
"The number may not be big, but any unpleasantness means a lifetime of regret for the couple," said Zhao Jiaoli, association secretary-general.
Most gripes pertained to violation of contracts by service companies, such as providing low-quality wedding cars or poor decoration in the wedding hall.
Gao jun, a victim, said he signed a deal with Qiaoxinniang Wedding Service Co. in September, ordering two Benz230 wedding cars on October 26 with an advance payment of 1,500 yuan. But on the D-Day, the firm claimed the Benz cars were unavailable and instead sent two other worn-out cars.
"Imagine on one of the most important days in my life, I had to greet my bride with such shabby cars," he said. "Worse, the company refused to pay any compensation."
Gao isn't the most unfortunate, however. A couple had to endure the ignominy of walking to their destination after their wedding car broke down on a highway, Zhao revealed.
Some wedding service firms even set traps to cheat consumers, an industry insider, who declined to be identified, claimed.
For instance, they would send inferior cars instead of the deluxe models shown on the brochures. If the newlyweds insist on deluxe cars, they would ask them to pay more.
Some small companies even joined hands and published ads, disguising themselves as branches of a large company to win consumers' trust, the insider revealed.
"The trade is in urgent need of a unified rule," he stressed.
"The coming Spring Festival will trigger another wedding frenzy in the city," said Zhao, warning that "couples should opt for reputed com-panies and sign detailed contracts. If anything untoward happens, the deal can be used as evidence."
(eastday.com December 18, 2002)