'Best' chestnuts bring hefty fine

Updated: 2016-01-15 08:00

By Zheng Caixiong and Wang Ye in Hangzhou(China Daily)

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A store that sells sugar-roasted chestnuts is facing a fine of 200,000 yuan ($30,500) after advertising its products as "the best" in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

Law enforcement personnel said the store had violated the country's Advertising Law and relevant regulations when it used "the best" or "the most" in its advertising.

Fang Linfu, boss of the Hangzhou Fanglinfu Sugar-Roasted Chestnut Store, said he was shocked when he received the fine on Jan 8. The ticket was written by the marketing supervision administration of the city's Xihu district.

Fang, 46, said he refused to accept it.

Fang said he has been using "the best products" in promotions and advertising for more than 15 years, and no one has questioned him or asked him to stop using such words in all that time.

"I have said sorry to the marketing supervision administration and promised to correct the mistake, but they refused to drop the fine," Fang said on Thursday. "As a small store, I cannot bear such a large fine."

"I am not well educated, and I did not know the words 'best' and 'most' were not allowed in promotions and advertisements," he said.

Fang said he used the words to promote his products because he thought they really were the best in the city. He has been roasting and selling sugar-roasted chestnuts for more than two decades and his products are well-known.

But Fang also said he would like to correct his mistake.

When Fang refused to accept the fine, the marketing supervision administration agreed to hold a public hearing. "But they didn't tell me when the hearing will be held," Fang said, adding that his business license would be revoked if he refused to pay the fine.

Fang operates three stores in Hangzhou, and all of them have used "best" or "most" in promotions and advertisements at one time or another, he said.

An official from the Xihu district administration who did not want to be named told local media that the fine was the minimum and could have been as high as 1 million yuan.

Zhu Yongping, a lawyer at Datong Law Firm, said Fang had erred, but the procedure used to fine him was not correct.

"Fang should first be informed and asked to give up using banned words in advertisements," said Zhu.