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Gripes Over Flawed Cars Rise with Sales
As a growing number of Shanghai families purchase their first ever car, more and more buyers are complaining about taking home a lemon, reports the Shanghai Consumers' Association.

The association received 42 complaints from automobile buyers during the first eight months of this year, a dramatic increase over the 29 complaints lodged during all of last year.

"This indicates that more individuals can afford to buy cars," said Wang Yuedi of the organization.

Private car sales have taken off over the last several years, with 7,276 new private license plates sold during the first seven months of this year, putting sales slightly behind last year's pace, but up greatly from just a few years ago.

Yu Xiaotian is one consumer to receive compensation for problems with his car. Yu complained when the airbag in his Guangzhou-built Honda didn't deploy during a collision with a tractor on June 15.

"Because the safety airbag in the car didn't work, I suffered a serious fracture in my elbow," said Yu who asked for his money back for the car.

After mediation, Yu received only 4,000 yuan (US$482) in compensation, partially because he couldn't positively prove the fracture was a direct result of the faulty airbag, Wang said.

Not surprisingly, he didn't receive a new car. No consumer in Shanghai has successfully got his or her money back for a defective car, said the consumer protection department.

The administration says it has concluded 33 of the cases reported this year. When consumers complain about a faulty vehicle, the administration tries to mediate a deal between the buyer and the manufacturer.

If a deal can't be reached, consumers must use the court system to seek restitution.

Wang said generally car manufacturers and consumers are able to reach a deal over complaints.

More than half of the complaints received by the administration concern defective parts, while the rest involve after-sales service and contract disputes, Wang said.

(eastday.com 09/07/2001)

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