China’s Fake Apple Stores

An Store in Kunming, Yunnan got international attention when an expatriate blogger became suspicious when three Apple Stores suddenly opened in her neighborhood. After a bit of investigation, it was confirmed that the stores were in fact an elaborate unauthorized reproductions of the real thing. From the Guardian:

Our intrepid blogger was suspicious; although Kunming is typical of China’s rapid development it is relatively remote. She looked up Apple’s official China site and lo – Apple has only four stores in China, two of which are in Beijing and two in Shanghai.

“Being the curious types that we are, we struck up some conversation with these salespeople who, hand to God, all genuinely think they work for Apple,” she wrote.

“I tried to imagine the training that they went to when they were hired, in which they were pitched some big speech about how they were working for this innovative, global company – when really they’re just filling the pockets of some shyster living in a prefab mansion outside the city by standing around a fake store disinterestedly selling what may or may not be actual Apple products that fell off the back of a truck somewhere.”

The Wall Street Journal blog tracked down store employees who acknowledged that their store is not authorized:

Trying to reach the store’s owners has been tough. Repeated calls to the manager on Thursday went unanswered. But a store employee reached by phone confirmed that the store is not an authorized Apple reseller. The salesman said products in the store are genuine Apple products sold at the same prices as those advertised on Apple’s website.

BirdAbroad said in a post Wednesday that store staff she spoke to appeared to believe they were employees of Apple. The staffer reached by phone was under no such illusion. “It doesn’t make much of a difference for us whether we’re authorized or not,” he said. “I just care that what I sell every day are authentic Apple products, and that our customers don’t come back to me to complain about the quality of the products.”

The store is one of many unofficial resellers with Apple products on display around China. BirdAbroad’s post said there were two other Apple retailers around the corner from the featured fake store, one of which has a misspelled sign calling itself “Apple Stoer.” Many of the Apple products carried by resellers are purchased from the company’s retail outlets in China, while others are bought overseas and smuggled in. In some cases, the products on offer are second-hand or even knock-offs. It’s unclear where the Kunming fake Apple Store sources its products,

“I think in Yunnan, our store should be one of the best in terms of scale and the level of professionalism,” the Kunming salesman said.