Truth in advertising lost on real estate giant

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Shanghai Daily, November 1, 2011
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A joke

He also said that in his phone conversations with "certain" Qingpu officials, they were at once very positive about the new subway. But he admitted there was no formal documentation.

What a joke.

Anyone can edit any item on Baidu Baike at any time, as with many other online free encyclopedias. By no means can such an online item qualify as an accurate and authoritative source as required by the law.

Still, out of curiosity, I searched Baidu Baike yesterday morning and found this: The new subway line has been listed among Shanghai's subway projects for 2010-2020. Nowhere was 2013 said to be the year of opening. At any rate, this property giant should have written a caveat in its sales advertising that the prediction was based on Baidu Baike. It did not.

The attorney's so-called "phone conversations" with Qingpu officials is also a joke.

Before offering these two "accurate and authoritative" sources, the trio led by Mr Tang had presented a written letter of reply to the home buyers, which categorically denied any charge of advertising frauds.

Maybe from the steady and skeptical expression of the home buyers, the trio themselves could see how ludicrous it was to have resorted for legal grounds to a questionable search engine and purported phone calls with anonymous officials.

During the October 27 meeting with home buyers, which was videotaped by home owners, Mr Tang called the complainants "mafia and hooligans," according to several home owners.

The trio even refused to sign the written reply they had promised. They only did so after home buyers called the police and then reluctantly, in the presence of police, put their names to the reply - with illegible signatures.

On October 29, the home buyers went to another office to ask Mr Tang to apologize for calling them mafia and hooligans, but he would not meet them. Some home owners went yesterday to a higher company office to complain, and were told that the company needed another week to collect "accurate and authoritative" evidence to back up its controversial advertising claims about great transport in the near future.

If they had this reliable information, why did they not produce it immediately? Well, let us give them another week to produce their credible evidence.

This property giant has a famous slogan: "Let architecture sing the praises of life."

Indeed, the giant often excels in architectural design, but life is not as cold as bricks and mortar. It's about dignity.

Known as the "Sheriff of Wall Street," Preet Bharara, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a recent Wharton Leadership Lecture, that future business leaders can avoid scrutiny from his office by approaching their careers with integrity and a dose of humility. Indeed, arrogance and dishonesty don't pay.


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