JD.com, one of China's largest e-commerce websites, apologized on Sunday to customers who claimed the platform intentionally sell fake products and provide a poor after-sale service.
JD.com has been grilled since last week as popular Chinese writer known under the pseudonym Liu Liu shared her friend Cheng Mo's unpleasant experience with the website.
According to reports, Ms Cheng bought a Comfort U waist pillow from the U.S. department on JD's cross-border e-commerce subsidiary JD Worldwide, priced at 1,489 yuan (about 236 U.S. dollars). However, she received a pillow labeled as Contour U, which is normally sold at 33.6 U.S. dollars on its official website.
When the after-sales department was challenged by the customer, they first insisted it was a Comfort U pillow, but later simply admitted that it was mistakenly shipped. They continued to say the product was not fake and they did not try to mislead the consumer. JD.com normally offers compensation and a full refund to customers who are issued fake products, however Ms Cheng was unable to get a refund for her purchase as the company insisted the item was still technically legal.
What annoyed Ms Cheng more was that she had a difficult time defending her rights. Neither JD.com nor the consumers' association in Shanghai or Beijing accepted her complaint, since she had no invoice, and JD Worldwide is registered in Hong Kong.
After the scandal was exposed online, many furious Internet users claim they also had similar experiences before. However, JD.com defended the next day that they were selling both Comfort U and Contour U on the website, and the incident was only a matter of incorrect shipping.
JD's announcement went on to say, "Liu Liu did not make a thorough investigation into the case, and credulously believed what her friend said and then posted the article on social media. It has harmed the platform's credibility and we will resort to legal methods to protect our rights."
But on Sunday, JD's Chief Marketing Officer Xu Lei wrote on his Weibo that their previous response was very inappropriate, "we will look into the case, and severely punish those responsible if fraudulent activity is found." He also promised to improve customer service in his latest statement.
In response, Liu Liu commented on her Weibo that she is glad to see that progress is taking place every day, "Chinese giant companies are facing unprecedented challenges and management issues. We should be strict on them and at the same time, tolerantly wait for their development."