A customer in Pingtung who purchased an electric bicycle that, according to the label, was manufactured in Taiwan, was in for a surprise when she discovered that the bicycle would accelerate on its own.
Not only did she not have control over the speed, but when she contacted the company, a representative told her that the parts were made in China, leaving her to feel she had been cheated.
Cheng Chun (程俊), an official at the Consumer Protection Commission (CPC), said recently that the market is overflowing with products that, though they are said to be made in Taiwan, use many components that are made in China.
Clearer regulations of what constitutes a product being made in Taiwan and clearer labeling to mark such products are required, Cheng said.
The woman, a resident of -Chaochou surnamed Pan (潘), purchased the electric bicycle for NT$16,800.
She had constant problems as the battery and the engine frequently stopped working. Pan said the most serious problem was that it would speed up on its own and then it would be impossible to reduce the speed and the brakes wouldn’t work, which was very frightening.
This is a safety issue that involves life and death, she said.
Although the company fixed the bicycle, it could not guarantee that it would not start speeding up on its own again, she said, adding that this made it very dangerous to ride the bicycle. At that point, however, the company had yet to tell her where the parts were from.
Pan said that when she bought the bicycle, the company said it was made in Taiwan. She said her trust in products made in Taiwan weighed in considerably whenever she had to make a purchase decision.
Only after she contacted the company did it reveal that the parts were actually made in China. This realization made Pan feel that she had been deceived, which led her to file a complaint with the CPC.
A salesperson surnamed Chen (陳) said the bicycle was very popular and that other customers had not experienced similar problems, adding that the manufacturer had repaired Pan’s bicycle free of charge.
Chen said human error was the most likely reason for the problems, as the bicycle had been left outside in the rain, which may have caused problems with the wiring. On the issue of Chinese parts being included in Taiwan-made products, Chen said it was common in today’s market. Vehicles are often developed by Taiwanese businesses based in China, where the parts are produced.
Chen said it is impossible for shops in Taiwan to know which parts are made in China and which are made here.
Cheng said the market was “flooded” with Taiwan-made -products using Chinese parts, adding that their quality was uneven.
Consumers often think they are buying a Taiwan-made product and only after they bring the product home and find that it is substandard do they realize that the main components are made in China, and this leads to frequent consumer complaints, Cheng said.
Some water-filtering machines, for example, are entirely made in China, but are marketed as “made in Taiwan.”
Cheng said that according to current regulations, any product that is assembled in Taiwan is considered to have been manufactured in Taiwan, which often results in inferior products being sold as Taiwanese products.
The authorities should amend regulations on product labeling, Cheng said. For example, a baseline for the proportion of parts in a product that must be made in Taiwan should be set for a product to legally claim that it was made in Taiwan, Cheng said. Doing so would allow customers to make more informed purchasing decisions, Cheng said.
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