Fitness centre suspected of engaging in aggressive commercial practices in selling training lessons

18 May 2016

Hong Kong Customs today (May 18) arrested two fitness centre staff members suspected of engaging in aggressive commercial practices in the course of selling personal training lessons, in contravention of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO).

Customs earlier received complaint from a member of public alleging staff members of a fitness centre at Causeway Bay imposed undue influence in selling personal training lessons. The staff members processed payment by customer's credit card without seeking authorisation for procurement of personal training lessons valued at around $140,000. After initial investigation, Customs officers today arrested a 29-year-old woman and a 25-year-old man. Investigation is ongoing and the arrested persons have been put on police bail.

Under the TDO, a trader commits an offence of engaging in aggressive commercial practices if he or she uses harassment, coercion or undue influence to impair the consumer's freedom of choice or conduct in relation to a product which causes or is likely to cause the consumer to make a transactional decision. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years. The management staff will also be liable if the offence is committed with their consent or connivance or is attributed to their neglect.

Against unfair trade practices, apart from stringent enforcement, Customs endeavors to step up effort on public education and compliance promotion. In mid-May, Customs arranged a seminar for District Councillors for enhancing their awareness on unfair trading provisions and explaining crucial points involved in complaint handling in order to enhance efficiency of complaint referral. Recently, Customs also met with the management of some chain fitness centres to remind them of their supervisory accountability, urge them to strengthen staff training and devise code of practice and guidelines so as to prevent their frontline staff from engaging in unfair trade practices.

Members of the public may report suspected cases of violation of the TDO to Customs by calling the 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Previous Page