Customers demand refunds from fake Apple store in China

What would you do if you bought a shiny new Apple computer (from what looked to be a shiny Apple store) only to find out that the store that sold it to you was a total fraud? We're guessing there would probably be some screaming involved. For customers in the Chinese city of Kunming, the revelation that their city's Apple hub was a counterfeit (albeit, a damn impressive counterfeit), has led to angry customers demanding refunds.

Reuters described the scene today, two days after news about the fake store spread, thanks to an eagle-eyed American expat blogger:

‘When I heard the news I rushed here immediately to get the receipt, I am so upset,' a customer surnamed Wang told Reuters, near tears. ‘With a store this big, it looks so believable who would have thought it was fake?'

Wang, a petite, 23-year-old office worker who would not give her first name, spent 14,000 yuan ($2,170) last month buying a Macbook Pro 13-inch and a 3G iPhone from the Kunming store. She wasn't issued a receipt at the time, with staff telling her to come back later.

‘Where's my receipt, you promised me my receipt last month!' Wang shouted at employees, before being whisked away to an upstairs room.

On Wednesday, an American blogger living in Kunming first wrote about the store, which popped up in her neighborhood:

They looked like Apple products. It looked like an Apple store. It had the classic Apple store winding staircase and weird upstairs sitting area. The employees were even wearing those blue t-shirts with the chunky Apple name tags around their necks ... We struck up some conversation with these salespeople who, hand to God, all genuinely think they work for Apple.

The media pounced and the story spread quickly. It's even been given the crazy-animated-news treatment (yes, that appears to be Steve Jobs in a Darth Vader helmet).  

The store said its products were genuine Apple computers and were being sold at the same price as you would find on Apple's website. And staff said they were angry by all the media attention the blog has caused.

"The media is painting us to be a fake store but we don't sell fakes, all our products are real, you can check it yourself," one employee told Reuters. "There is no Chinese law that says I can't decorate my shop the way I want to decorate it."


A facelift for the Lunatic Line

It goes by several names:  The Iron Snake, the Lunatic Line, the Jambo Kenya Deluxe. Winston Churchill shot zebras sitting next to its great engines and man-eating lions stalked its trains' carriages, devouring men at night. Over the years, hundreds have perished in its iron body from faulty brakes, exploding gas tanks, and powerful floods that washed away bridges.

The mysteries and horror stories attached to the African railway are legendary. But, the system -- stretching through Kenya and Uganda -- is about to get a 21st century facelift thanks to a nearly $40 million loan from the African Development Bank.

A new transportation plan is in the works for East Africa. Kenya Railways will build 12 commuter train stations to connect the Nairobi metropolitan area. The rail between the coastal city of Mombasa in Kenya, and Kampala, Uganda is to be re-vamped by 2017. There is also talk of railway lines connecting Lamu, Kenya to Juba, South Sudan, as well as Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The last rail stations in Kenya were built in 1935. The BBC's Ruth Evans reports:

"Inside Nairobi station, it is like stepping into a time warp. The arrivals and departures board looks as though it hasn't been updated since I first did the journey 28 years ago...As we pull slowly out of the station shortly after 7pm, the sun is setting behind the shacks that have sprung up all along the track...The ticket collector tells me to close the windows and lock the doors before going to sleep. But the window doesn't shut properly, the fan doesn't work, and the lights keep going on and off...The road to the coast runs parallel with the railway for much of the route, and heavily laden trucks churn up the pot-holed tarmac, taking goods to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, Congo and beyond."

The trains, which can run at a sloth-like pace of 18 mph are to be replaced with high speed trains. A once 15 hour ride from Nairobi to Mombasa will only take two or three hours. The new rail system won't just benefit commuters and tourists. It will also create a trade network for goods like coffee, cotton and gold. Kenya Railways is currently managed by Rift Valley Railways -- a mix of Kenyan, Ugandan, Brazilian and Egyptian companies. But the railway is plagued by great debt and a region battling high levels of corruption, not to mention the worst famine in decades. East Africa's perhaps grandiose rail endeavor will either be a boom or a bust.