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ASUS charges customer with extortion, customer countersues

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Beijing Times
October 27, 2008

Today's Beijing Times reports on a legal case in which Huang Jing, a young woman who had earlier been accused by computer hardware maker ASUS for extortion, decided to countersue for defamation, selling defected products, and false accusation. The newspaper also reported that Huang demanded a reparation from the State for being "jailed for ten months" before being released due to insufficient evidence.

Huang's ordeal with ASUS started when she was still a university student on February 9, 2006. She bought a V6800V model ASUS laptop from a Beijing retailer. Her computer had many problems including frequent blue screen freeze-ups.

Despite Huang sending back the computer several times for repairs by the ASUS, some of the problems remained. The last time ASUS repaired Zhou's computer, they replaced the CPU, but the new CPU overheated. Examination showed that the new CPU was an Intel "engineering sample" of a kind not permitted to be sold in the market.

Huang and her lawyer, Zhou Chengyu, demanded that ASUS to pay a compensation of five million US dollars, threatening to break the news to the media and take ASUS to court. After rounds of unsuccessful negotiations, ASUS finally rejected all of Zhou's request. Earlier reports quoted Zhou as saying to ASUS that the company "spends tens of millions of yuan on promotion in the Mainland market; if the news was released to the media, the loss of market share would be far beyond 5 million US dollars."

On March 7, 2006 when Huang and Zhou went to ASUS for the last time, they were both arrested by the police at the request of ASUS on charges of extortion.

In December 2006, Huang was released from jail, on parole until her trial. In 2007, the Haidian District procurator issued a decision of exemption from criminal prosecution to Huang deeming the evidence against her inadequate.

Aside from her lawsuit, Huang has also put up a website listing the alleged incidents of ASUS cheating on customers.

Disgruntled customers using media exposure as leverage to bargain with companies is becoming a common phenomenon. This year has seen car owners and home buyers demanding compensation or refunds, threatening negative media coverages.

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There are currently 12 Comments for ASUS charges customer with extortion, customer countersues.

Comments on ASUS charges customer with extortion, customer countersues

Greed > Consumer protection.

Yeah... It's sad. Totally corporatist fascist communist state... I mean come on! Arresting her on extortion charges...??? I like ASUS stuff but damn... I guess when in Rome do as Romans (with respect to F*** GREED AND F*** CORRUPTION MAN!)

SO SAD...

Stuff like this pisses me off... They could just have denied her (obviously she is also a bit greedy) and taken it to the court, but getting the STATE to ARREST her on extortion charges...Scary when the STATE and the corporations are on it together to SCREW YOU.

I'm not saying this is a China only problem. It's a world-wide problem... the State, and the corporatist fascists, one huge orgy of death, greed, exploitation and destruction...All hail the new world order.

WAKE UP!!

Lost in all the noise is that, indeed, Asus does sell a lot of crap on the Mainland market.

I support her fighting for her consumer rights, but 5 million US! dollars, isn't that too much for a faulty processor? 5 million dollars and threatening bad publicity does sounds like extortion to me, but 10 months is way too much.

reminds me of north koreans getting executed for not showing respect to kim's portrait. what a shame, 5 million usd is too much but so is 10 months imprisonment.

Yes, US$5 million is too much for a faulty processor but that's not for compensation; the article quoted her as saying, "if the news was released to the media, the loss of market share would be far beyond 5 million US dollars." She went way beyond protecting her consumer rights and looking for compensation, she was out to blackmail the company.

Blackmail, n. & v., an extortion of payment in return for not disclosing discreditable information, a secret, etc.

Is ten months too long for trying to extort US$5,000,000 from a company? How about blackmailing a person for US$5 millions? Ten months too long?

Yeah.. you are making sense. Now I look at it, yes, I agree. I guess I jumped gun earlier hearing State, Corporation, Jail... and went crazy...

Guys, that is not the whole truth yet. There are more in-depth report in Chinese media and web.

1. $5M was rather proposed to set up a consumer right fund to compensate consumers in other similar cases. It was to be run by Asus.

2. Intel covered up for Asus, as it counts for 50% of OEM market, making for all laptop brands. Intel was contacted for verification of the 'smaple chip' but later testified against the meeting ever happened.

3. This is potentially a huge blow for Intel- which in 2005 just survived a huge PR nightmare when large amount of 'test sample' chips were found being sold through laptop partners. Its CEO came to China vowing to punish future offending vendors, but has never acted.

4. China doesn'thave class-action suit- violating consumer right has very low potential loss.

And neither you or the Chinese internet crowd have proved the whole truth yet:

1) US$5,000,000 to set up a consumer right fund? A statement after the fact, and that also contradicts initial reports of Huang Jing's actions and statements by her lawyer Zhou Chengyu.

2) Hearsay.

3) The CEO coming to China vowing to punish future offenders but "has never acted". You mean vendors are still selling test samples (why not fault the vendors rather than the manufacturer?)? Or, the vendors are no longer selling test samples, but you still find the CEO guilty? You also think a foreign CEO has control over mainland China vendors?

4)China does not have class-action suits but that does not deter mainland Chinese from frivilous attempts at compensation, especially from foreign companies when the victim can be assured of popular support like - well, like your comments above.

1. Well, Asus is being sued and more evidences will come out- the victims in this case were jailed for ten months, so how much report can they give compared to a Fortune 500 company given their influence to the media.

2. Asus is being sued-, if proved guilty, Intel would face a dilemma - how to punish your biggest laptop customer. Their meeting with the victim was recorded but later testified against- which may have come handy to avoid the dilemma.

3. No pathetic foreign vs. Chinese rethoric here. Consumer right needs to be upheld in China- this helps all consumers in China, including foreigners living in China.

Of course consumer rights need to be upheld in China but, please, Huang Jing was jailed for trying to extort US$5,000,000 for a chronic laptop failure! Meanwhile, a clear case of massive consumer fraud by Chinese dairy companies goes unanswered and largely ignored. One cannot but question the focus and motives of the Chinese media and web.

I do, however, thank you for allowing that even foreigners in China deserve consumer protection.

If we do not help the people who are poor, we can not help the people who are rich.
----a US presedent

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