Disgruntled shoppers pelt Apple store in Beijing

Fri Jan 13, 2012 12:51pm EST
 
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By Terril Yue Jones and Lucy Hornby

BEIJING (Reuters) - Enraged Chinese shoppers pelted Apple Inc's flagship Beijing store with eggs and shoving matches broke out with police on Friday when customers were told the store would not begin sales of the iPhone 4S as scheduled.

Apple said later after the fracas at its store in Beijing's trendy Sanlitun district that it would halt all retail sales of the latest iPhone in China for the time being, but said the phones would be available online, through its partner China Unicom or at official Apple resellers.

Sales at Apple's other store in Beijing and three in Shanghai went more smoothly, with stocks quickly selling out.

An announcer with a bullhorn told the Sanlitun store crowd around 7 a.m., before sunrise, that the phones would not go on sale as planned and that they should leave. As the crowd became more unruly, scuffles broke out between security staff and shoppers, many of whom had waited overnight in freezing weather. Police moved in and dragged some people away. Photos appeared on the Chinese blogosphere of a man who had brought raw eggs in a plastic bag, handing them out before people heaved them at the store's tall glass windows.

"We're suffering from cold and hunger," a man in his 20s shouted to Reuters Television. "They said they're not going to sell to us. Why? Why?"

"I got in line around 11 p.m., and beyond the line, the plaza was chock full with people," said Huang Xiantong, 26, from northeastern Liaoning province.

"Around 5 a.m. the crowds in the plaza broke through and the line disappeared entirely. Everyone was fighting, several people were hurt. The police just started hitting people. They were just brawling."

Police ordered the closure of the store, according to a source close to the situation.   Continued...