DAVINCI Furniture, the company caught in a scandal last year over claims its furniture was made in Italy, has been ordered to pay more than 3 million yuan (US$471,075) to a Hangzhou customer.

It is believed to be the first court case in which a customer has won a refund from the troubled furniture seller.

Hangzhou Gongshu Court ruled that the company refund 3.23 million yuan to Wei Heping for furniture he rejected before it was even delivered.

Wei reserved a set of DaVinci furniture bearing the Cappelletti brand and paid more than 3 million yuan at a DaVinci store on Nanshan Road in Hangzhou in May last year.

He asked for his money back after he saw a China Central Television program that claimed some furniture that DaVinci said was made in Italy was actually manufactured in China, transported to Italy and then shipped back to China to qualify for a "Made in Italy" label.

But his request was rejected as DaVinci said Wei could not judge the quality of furniture he hadn't yet received.

Wei filed a lawsuit last November asking for a refund and 700,000 yuan compensation. The court rejected his request for compensation but ruled that he should get his money refunded.

The court found that DaVinci misled consumers with false and exaggerated advertising of its products.

It cited the findings of the Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau that some Cappelletti furniture failed quality tests in December.

Labels failed to tell consumers what the item was made of, as terms such as wood, metal and leather were too general, the bureau said. The bureau also said some furniture, which the company said was solid wood, was in fact made from melamine or high-density boards.

DaVinci was ordered to pay a fine to a total of 1.33 million yuan over quality, labeling and advertising issues.

After the scandal, many customers across China filed lawsuits asking for refunds or compensation from the company.

In August, more than 40 consumers in Shanghai launched a lawsuit against the company.

They demanded compensation totaling 1.5 million yuan from DaVinci, claiming the company did not resolve concerns over where its furniture was produced.

Wang Lei, a lawyer working for the Zhejiang Hanqiao Law Firm in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, said the Hangzhou ruling would smooth the way for other consumers to get refunds.

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