CF not content with Top Pot punishment

By Joy Lee ,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The government should fine Top Pot Bakery according to the Fair Trade Act instead of the Act Governing Food Sanitation to levy more severe punishments over the addition of artificial essences into the bakery’s bread while claiming it uses only natural ingredients, the Consumers’ Foundation (CF) said yesterday.

CF board member Hsieh Tien-jen (謝天仁) said that the government should also look into the legal responsibility that Dee Hsu (徐熙娣, also known as Xiao S) should take for helping to promote the bakery.

The chain was recently busted by the Taipei City Government and Taipei prosecutors for adding artificial essences into its bread.

The bakery boasts in advertisements that its bread is made with natural ingredients and zero flavoring essences. The city government later fined the firm NT$180,000 for deceptive advertising and handed the case over to Taipei prosecutors. Hsieh said that the government did not punish the bakery based on Fair Trade Act for the misleading advertising, which comes with a fine ranging between NT$50,000 and NT$25 million.

“According to local media reports,” Hsieh said, “the bakery makes about NT$600 million annually, so the NT$180,000 fine does not intimidate the bakery at all.”

Hsieh said that even though the bakery promised to give full refunds as well as gift vouchers worth 25 percent of the same amount bought at any branch if customers can present proof of purchase, there are many customers who already discarded their receipts and they will become the real victims of this incident.

Dee Hsu Dissed Top Pot Bakery has become popular partly thanks to advertisements targeting those wishing to eat healthy and all-natural products as well as Hsu’s recommendation, Hsieh said, so Hsu has to be responsible for her involvement.

“Dee Hsu needs to do more than just apologize to the public,” said Hsieh.

Mixed Reactions from Consumers Many customers yesterday lined up in front of Top Pot Bakery’s stores to apply for refunds during the first day of the stores’ reopening for business.

According to the agreement between the bakery and Taipei’s Department of Legal Affairs, customers who still have proof of purchases made between the days the bakery opened in 2010 to Aug. 23 this year can apply for refunds from now until Sept. 27. Top Pot Bakery general manager Benson Hsu (徐志鴻) promised all the products displayed in the stores are without artificial essences.

One customer who visited the store to apply for refunds said that even though she can accept the bakery’s method of compensating its customers, she does not plan to make any future purchases from the chain.

Other customers said that they already lost their receipts or credit card authorizations and that they did not want to buy discounted bread now, so it is impossible for them to receive any compensation.