US$875 bill for repairing watch only requiring a change of battery

Consumers — who were actually undercover inspectors — were charged up to 5,800 yuan (US$875) after sending watches for repair that just needed a battery change.

The city's consumer rights protection commission has investigated watch repair makers, uncovering some staggering markups.

Consumers were charged from 1,200 yuan to 5,800 yuan (US$179 to US$875) at different outlets after being sent watches for repair that just needed a battery change, the commission said. The "consumers" were actually undercover inspectors.

The commission, meanwhile, has signed up with 45 watch repair outlets in the city to regulate the market.

These outlets bear a unified logo signifying that they are listed in the credibility list of Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission and are recommended by the commission for watch repair services.

They include Shanghai Watch and Clock Shop and Prime Time Watch & Clock Service Center.

Complaints over watch repairs have increased significantly in recent years, particularly with regard to  expensive watches, the commission said.

It received about 600 complaints over watch repairs last year.

"High repair charges, failure to fix the problem after repair, and poor service" were the main causes of complaints,  said Tang Jiansheng, deputy secretary-general of the commission, which has conducted an undercover investigation.

It found problems with nearly half of watch repair outlets.

"Some of them fabricated repair items or glitches and cheated consumers by exaggerating problems to make extra charges," Tang said.

The latest effort is to eliminate fraud repair service providers, the commission said. It did not name the watch repairers charging the huge markups.



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