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Tesla Issues Rare Apology After Chinese Social Media Pressure Over A Customer Complaint

Tesla Issues Rare Apology After Chinese Social Media Pressure Over A Customer Complaint
The United States based electric car maker Tesla is facing a social media storm in China as regulators and the state media also joining in the fray after an unhappy Tesla customer clambered showed her protest over the company's handling of her complaints by climbing atop a Tesla car at the auto show in Shanghai.
The clip of the woman protesting went viral on Chinese social media which put the electric car maker under pressure in one of its most important foreign markets and forcing a rare apology from the company.
Currently the relations between the US and China are filled with tension and other western brands are also being targeted in China and it is amid this environment that Tesla has come under pressure in a market which accounts for about 30 per cent of the global sales of Tesla and where the company has its only plant outside of its home market of the US.
"China will continue to open up its market to foreign business, but that does not mean foreign companies will be offered any privilege," the Global Times, a tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, said in an opinion piece on the "Tesla blunder".
The woman whose protest at the auto show created the social media backlash against Tesla was complaining about the insensitiveness of the company to her complaints of malfunctioning brakes.
Following the social media outrage, Tesla was asked by the Chinese regulator to ensure that the quality of its products in the country is maintained. On the other hand the  Xinhua news agency, the state run media agency, opined that the apology on the incident tendered by Tesla was "not sincere".
"The arrogant and overbearing stance the company exhibited in front of the public is repugnant and unacceptable, which could inflict serious damage on its reputation and customer base in the Chinese market," the Global Times wrote.
There were no comments on the incident from Tesla except for a statement issued by it in which the company said that it would share data with the country’s regulators about the brake incident. A local regulator had demanded that tesla share such data with it.
The viral video of the Chinese woman at the auto show shows her wearing a T-shirt that had the words "The brakes don't work" written on it while she shouted the same allegations. 
An apology to Chinese consumers about not addressing the complaint in a timely manner was issued by Tesla on Tuesday, a day after the woman’s unique protest. The company also said that a review of its service operations in China, the largest auto market of the world, will be conducted by it.
But Tesla’s apology failed to satisfy the Xinhua news agency. "A big company should have the responsibility of being a big company, no company can do whatever it wants," the news agency said in a commentary on Wednesday night. "If a company does not rectify when it has a problem, if it does not change a problematic senior executive ... it will eventually make mistakes again," it added.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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