Burger King takes a hit from consumer rights TV show

Business & Technology

Burger King, General Motors, and popular Chinese news and video app Qutoutiao were all criticized by state broadcaster CCTV’s annual consumer rights show, which often makes a dent in both foreign and domestic companies’ bottom lines.

burger king storefront in china
Screenshot from CCTV consumer rights TV show.

Each year since 1991, state broadcaster CCTV has broadcasted a show on March 15, World Consumer Rights Day, calling out companies that mistreat customers. This year, the show was postponed to July 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past, companies — both domestic and foreign — that have been criticized on the show have seen their sales plummet and their brands attacked online. Burger King and General Motors were the only foreign firms that made the show’s list of shame (see Reuters or Caixin, or watch the show here, in Chinese).

A Burger King outlet in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, was accused of only putting two pieces of cheese on a burger that should have received three and using hamburger buns past their expiration date. Burger King China promptly apologized on its Weibo account (in Chinese) and said it would shut down the franchisee’s six outlets.

A vehicle made by a joint venture of GM and SAIC Motor had gearbox problems, according to CCTV. The joint venture quickly released an apology (link in Chinese).

Qutoutiao, a Chinese app that creates personalized AI-driven feeds of videos and news articles, was mentioned in the show’s opening. Its shares subsequently dropped 11%. The program accused Qutoutiao of posting advertisements that had false medical advice or led users to gambling websites.

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