Platforms called out for air-conditioner repair cons

The Shanghai Consumer Council asked nine online platforms and hotline operators to make rectification on Monday after air conditioning repair service providers listed on them. 

The Shanghai Consumer Council asked nine online platforms and hotline operators to make “rectifications” yesterday after numerous air-conditioning repair companies listed on them were caught bilking customers.

The request follows an undercover investigation by the council which involved air-conditioner repair companies listed on 11 platforms. In total, 82 percent of the air-conditioner repairs were found to have misled or cheated consumers.

Repair service providers on five platforms including Baidu, Taobao and were caught charging extra fees by claiming that refrigerant was missing; while repairs listed on other platforms cheated consumers with unnecessary circuit-board replacements, according to the council’s findings.

Repairers on two platforms, and inflated repair fees by claiming that electronic components were broken. The repairers on Baidu and charged averages of 730 yuan (US$110.6) and 700 yuan respectively, the highest among all the platforms. This compares with the 50 yuan which the council said was a “normal” fee for repairs.

The council has received more than 2,100 complaints related to air conditioner repairs since 2015.

The platforms were ordered to enhance review of listed air conditioning service providers and make written replies regarding problems exposed by the council.

“It is very difficult for consumers to recognize such scams without professional knowledge, and big platforms should review their listed repairers strictly and enhance their management,” explained Tao Ailian, secretary-general of the council. 

The council also urged authorities to crack down on scams in this area.

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