Internet seller fined for supplying skincare products with false country of origin description (with photos)

30 Nov 2012

An online beauty product seller today (November 30) pleaded guilty at Kowloon City Magistrates' Court to two charges of having in possession for trade and supplying beauty and skincare products bearing false trade descriptions in contravention of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO) and was fined $25,000 for the offences. A total of 442 bottles of beauty and skincare products were forfeited.

The Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) reminds traders that it is an offence under the TDO to supply goods bearing a false trade description.

Acting on information, Customs officers, through an Internet auction website, purchased from an online seller different types of SQUALENE beauty and skincare products with the trade description "MADE IN SWITZERLAND" in July and August this year.

The products, including slimming gel, facial cleansing milk, facial cleansing gel, cleansing oil, toner, essential oil, moisturising cream and masks, were packed with poor-quality containers and sold at prices ranging from tens to hundreds of dollars. The selling prices of the goods were far below the prices of genuine Swiss-made beauty and skincare products. Investigations also revealed that the products were manufactured in the Mainland and not in Switzerland as claimed. A total of 442 bottles of the products were seized in the operation.

A C&ED spokesperson said false trade descriptions and misleading claims may appear in different sales channels including the transaction platforms on the Internet which are becoming more popular. Customs will continue to crack down on the supply of goods with false trade descriptions so as to protect consumer interests.

The department urges consumers to pay attention to the prices and product descriptions when they shop online. Should they have doubt about products, they should ask the traders to provide more information. Since there are risks in shopping online, the department reminds consumers to take heed of the reliability of relevant websites and product information to avoid being cheated.

The spokesperson said, "If consumers suspect that the goods they have bought bear a false trade description, they are advised to keep the goods, the invoices and receipts and make a report to the department by calling the 24-hour Customs hotline 2545 6182."

Under the TDO, any person who supplies goods with a false trade description in the course of trade or business or has in his possession for sale any goods with a false trade description commits a criminal offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.

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