Legal experts are calling for tougher punishments for companies that sell substandard and overpriced products in China.
At an open-day event on Wednesday, the Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce disclosed that it had fined Nike 4.87 million yuan ($780,700) for selling in China a brand of sneaker that had only one air cushion in each shoe, while advertising in the country and abroad that the shoes' midsoles have two air cushions.
Nike recalled the shoes and offered refunds in September 2011.
"This is not only discriminatory to Chinese consumers, but also a violation of Chinese laws and regulations," said Yi Shenghua, a lawyer at Yingke Law Firm in Beijing.
"We should reflect on the regulatory system and government standards in the country while stepping up punishment for this kind of behavior," he said.
Xue Guifang, director of the board of consumer rights protection at the China Law Society, agreed, saying: "Industries, especially world-renowned businesses, should not only provide world-class products, but also first-class respect to consumers."
According to the administration, Nike set the price in China for the high-end basketball sneaker, the Nike Zoom Hyperdunk 2011, with double air cushions at 1,299 yuan, more than 500 yuan higher than a pair sells for in other countries. However, it was later discovered the company misled customers, as each shoe had only one air cushion, not two.
The Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce said Nike has different standards for Chinese consumers and those elsewhere.
Such behavior is a violation of consumers' rights, an official with the publicity department of the administration told China Daily on Friday, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
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