Singles’ Day in China is the biggest day for shopping worldwide, and with this year’s sales shattering records once more, it seems to have gone off without a hitch. But are accusations of data fabrication, alleged false advertising, and burning trucks full of 11.11 goods taking the shine of the consumption-fest a little?
Following a seemingly successful shopping bonanza, Alibaba has faced claims that they fabricated sales numbers for Double 11. The accusation came from netizen Yin Liqing, who made a Weibo post months ago saying that Alibaba’s yearly growing sales fit too perfectly into a linear regression model. Alibaba clapped back on Weibo, saying on Tuesday that they had taken legal action against those “spreading rumors.”
Responding to accusations that this year’s apparent take of 268.4 billion RMB in sales for Alibaba was inflated, company founder Jack Ma retorted, “I guarantee you that in the age of data and the internet, every [penny] is extremely accurate.”
Meanwhile, e-commerce livestream star Li Jiaqi came under fire after claiming to be selling Yangcheng Lake’s famous hairy crabs for 11.11 and then apparently pulling a switcheroo on customers by sending them crabs of a lower quality. Li rose to social media fame after trying 380 lipsticks in two hours on a previous livestream, and is one of many “social ecommerce” stars who pushed consumers to buy in record numbers this past Singles’ Day.
According to Chinese media, sales from Monday’s Taobao livestreams took just 63 minutes to exceed those of the entire day last year. Kim Kardashian West even cashed in on the fun. Li has since apologized, but livestreamers are now facing greater scrutiny of their practices as they spearhead a new front in Chinese consumerism.
Both of these stories were among the top trending hashtags on Chinese social media this week, but another story triggering headlines and outpourings of concern online arrived when an express delivery truck transporting 13 tons of consumer goods caught fire on Tuesday. The truck was driving from Beijing to Changsha, and was undoubtedly carrying some of the billions of orders placed the day before for 11.11.
Cue major heartache from shoppers concerned about the fate of their cut-price products. According to the courier company’s Weibo, the orders will be reissued and refunded within three days. As of Thursday, the accident was trending number 2 on Weibo.