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Foreign automakers come under fire

News, 23 March 2015
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SHANGHAI: Jaguar Land Rover is to recall more than 36,000 Evoque sport utility vehicles (SUVs) in China after a state-controlled TV programme accused the British automaker of selling some models with faulty gearboxes.

The recall, announced late last week, came after a consumer rights show on China Central Television (CCTV) said the previous Sunday that Jaguar Land Rover had failed to respond to customer complaints, the Financial Times reported.

Other foreign auto brands also came under fire with car dealers for Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Volkswagen accused of overcharging consumers at some of their service centres in the country.

As reported by China's official news agency Xinhua, the annual 3/15 Consumer Rights Gala broadcast on CCTV accused Jaguar Land Rover of putting drivers' safety at risk and of "hushing up" the Evoque's "imperfections".

The other three automakers were said to have been "in the habit of maximising profits by carrying out unnecessary repairs and replacements".

All four companies apologised for the lapses and have launched investigations into the allegations. Jaguar Land Rover also apologised to customers on its Sina Weibo blog.

CCTV has targeted foreign companies on its annual Consumer Day programme in the past and some well-known names include Apple, McDonald's and Procter & Gamble.

Whatever the substance, communications experts say it is essential for brands to respond with the correct tone to limit any reputational damage, Reuters reported.

"The 3/15 show still packs a punch to the firms targeted, and a poor or flippant response from a targeted company can evoke consumer outrage," said James Feldkamp, CEO of consumer watchdog MingJian.

Data sourced from Financial Times, Xinhua, Reuters; additional content by Warc staff

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