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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Littlewood's Costly Absent Plug

Russia, a country that has gained a reputation among its own people for producing shoddy goods, apparently has little tolerance for inadequate imported products.


In one of the first major judgments under Russia's new Law on Consumer Defense, a regional court in St. Petersburg ruled last week that the British-Russian joint venture Littlewoods Trading must pay a St. Petersburg man 2. 8 million rubles because it sent him a tape recorder without a plug.


Postgraduate student Stanislav Mirochnik ordered a radio-cassette recorder in January from the catalog of Littlewoods, a large British retailer. The recorder was delivered later than promised and lacked a plug, according to an article in Russian national daily Izvestia. The machine otherwise worked.


Attorney Valery Musin, who represented Littlewoods Trading in the half-year lawsuit, said the shop immediately installed a Russian-type plug, which Mirochnik happily accepted.


Musin, outraged by the decision, said it is standard practice for the company to send out electronic merchandise without plugs. Since British plugs have three pins, the cord is left out of the box when the company ships to countries with different electrical systems.


Littlewoods will appeal the decision, Musin said.


Pavel Malkov, head of the international department at the Institute for Standardization and Certification, supported the ruling. He said that if the recorder were imported now, it would need a standards certificate, which WOULD not be granted without a plug. He said the company should have included a plug even if it did not fit Russian outlets.


The company began including the useless plug in its shipments, providing a free adapter, after Mirochnik filed his case, according to Littlewoods representative Natalya Korotkova.


The court has not yet released the reasons for its decision, and judge Yelena Yeryomina refused to comment.