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article imageBlogger discovers fake Apple Store, customers demand refund

By Andrew Moran     Jul 22, 2011 in Business
Kunming - A 27-year-old American living in China has discovered a fake Apple Store in Kunming city. A video and photos were posted of the sleek Apple Store, which has prompted customers to demand refunds for purchased items.
A fake Apple store coming to a shopping mall near you? What would you do if you discovered a bogus Apple store? Could you even realize if it was a counterfeit?
Last week, an American blogger published a video and photos of a fake Apple Store located in the southwestern province of Yunnan. The 27-year-old captured the images, which were posted on BirdAbroad, showing employees wearing blue T-shirts, speaking to customers and demonstrating products.
The store has signs advertising the iPad 2, but there is one discrepancy that was eventually realized: the Apple logo has the words “Apple Store” next to it. The genuine logo does not have those words.
Following confirmation on the company’s website, there are no authorized Apple Stores in Kunming city, but there are 13 canonical resellers in the city, though they are not allowed to identify themselves as Apple Stores or even claim to work for Apple. The only four Apple Stores in China are located in Beijing and Shanghai.
“Clearly, they had also been told that above all, they must protect the brand,” wrote the anonymous blogger. “As I took these photos I was quickly accosted by two salespeople inside, and three plain clothes security guys outside, putting their hands in my face and telling me to stop taking photographs – that it wasn’t allowed. And why wasn’t it allowed? Because their boss told them so.”
It is still unclear if the store was selling authentic Apple products or rip-offs, but a manager of an authorized reseller in the same city said most customers do not realize the store is a fake.
“There are more and more of these fake stores in Kunming,” said Zhang, a managing reseller, in an interview with Al Jazeera. “Although they may sell real Apple products, some of those products were not imported through legal means. And they cost more.”
Since the stories were published, Apple officials or spokespersons have not publicly commented on the report.
According to Reuters, when the shop was visited by a number of news agencies, staff members were not pleased with the media attention, but were quite cooperative with reporters.
Some customers are upset by this information and have demanded their money back.
“When I heard the news I rushed here immediately to get the receipt, I am so upset,” said Wang, a customer who purchased $2,200 worth of Macbook Pro 13-inch and a 3G iPhone from the fake store. “With a store this big, it looks so believable who would have thought it was fake?”
The store didn’t issue Wang a receipt and told to come back later for it. “Where's my receipt, you promised me my receipt last month!"
The BirdAbroad blog has received more than one million page views in the last 72 hours because of this report.
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