Earlier last week, there were reports about the discovery of fake Apple Stores in the Chinese city of Kunming. Following which, as Reuters reports, Chinese industrial and commercial authorities in Kunming have started to inspect all of the southwestern city's electronics shops after three self-named "Apple Stores" were exposed via the Internet, but are not authorized by Apple Inc., by an American blogger, who posted photos and challenged the stores' legitimate status and rights to use Apple's logo which sparked a media and online frenzy.
The inspections will look into business licenses, authorized permits on brand use, and the purchase channel of each store, said a worker with the city's industrial and commercial department.
Apple has four genuine Apple Stores in Beijing and Shanghai and none in Kunming in Yunnan province. The company has 13 authorized resellers in Kunming.
While the Chinese public await the results of the investigation, some have taken matters into their own hands. Reuters also notes that some of the stores were willing to admit they were copycats, but according to an employee of a fake Apple Store, they shrugged off the mounting complaints from angry customers, stating there was "no Chinese law that says [we] can't decorate my shop the way [we] want to decorate it."
Business at some of the knockoff stores has taken a hit following the commotion caused by the story, with customers demanding to know if their purchased Apple products were genuine. Amongst the crowd of furious customers is a twenty-three year old office worker named Ms. Wang. She shouted at employees of a Kunming store and demanded receipts for her month-old transactions at the store where she purchased a Macbook Pro and a iPhone 3G. At the time, staff asked Ms. Wang to return later for the receipts.
On the same token, employees of the store, a few who were aware of the store's illegitimacy, were just as furious as the customers over the increased media scrutiny. But in the coming weeks, the owners will find only more attention from authorities, and will have to answer to some of their employees who believed they were working for the Cupertino-based company.
Bloomberg is reporting that two of the five stores investigated have been shut down.
Chinese authorities shut two unauthorized Apple Inc. stores in Kunming for operating without business licenses, a newspaper run by the southwestern city's government reported.
Investigators also examined three other stores that used Apple's logo without the company's permission, though they were found to have operating permits, according to the Dushi Shibao newspaper report posted today on the Kunming government's website. The findings were part of a probe into more than 300 electronics vendors in the city, according to the report.