Saturday, July 23, 2011, 05:00 pm PT (08:00 pm ET)
Chinese officials investigating fake Apple Stores as customers complainAfter reports emerged of "knockoff" Apple Stores in Kunming, China, government officials have launched an investigation into retail stores in the city, even as outraged customers have returned to the store demanding proof that their purchases are genuine.
According to Reuters, industrial and commercial authorities will inspect all electronics shops in the city, which is located in Yunnan province in southwest China. The investigation will look into business licenses, authorized permits on brand use, and the purchase channel of each store, a worker from the department told China's official Xinhua news agency.
The first reports of the counterfeit Apple Store emerged earlier in the week and quickly drew international attention. BirdAbroad, the blog which first broke the story, had said that employees of one store claimed to work for Apple. That store included staff wearing blue t-shirts and name tags bearing the Apple logo, as well as a lower-quality version of Apple's iconic winding staircase.
Calls to the store placed by reporters have since confirmed that at least some of the staff are willing to admit that the store is a fake. ""There is no Chinese law that says I can't decorate my shop the way I want to decorate it," one employee told Reuters.
After news of the store was picked up by local Chinese media, a number of upset customers returned to the store to complain. "With a store this big, it looks so believable who would have thought it was fake?" said a customer, who had come back to the store to demand a receipt for her purchase of a MacBook Pro and iPhone 3G.
"Where's my receipt, you promised me my receipt last month!" she shouted at the store's employees. Staff said that business had been affected by the report.
Some customers, however, were unfazed by the news that the store was not an authorized Apple reseller. "As long as their products are real it's okay — after all, you enter a store not to look at anything except their products," said 18-year-old Hu Junkai. "If the products you buy are real why do you care whether the store is a copy?"
Apple operates just four official retail stores in China, though it plans to open a total of 25 in the next few years. The company has focused its efforts on the region, growing its Greater China revenues, which include Hong Kong and Taiwan, to $3.8 billion in the June quarter, a whopping six-fold increase.
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