Fitness centre suspected of engaging in aggressive commercial practices in sale of membership

8 Jun 2016

Hong Kong Customs today (June 8) arrested a staff member of a fitness centre suspected of engaging in aggressive commercial practices in the course of selling membership, in contravention of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO).

Customs earlier received a complaint from a member of the public alleging that staff of a fitness centre in Mong Kok imposed undue influence in selling club membership. The staff members processed payment by the customer's credit card without seeking authorisation for a fitness club membership valued about $10,000. After initial investigation, Customs officers today arrested a 34-year-old man. Investigation is ongoing and the arrested person has been put on 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.

Customs reminded traders to comply with the statutory requirements to avoid violating the TDO. Consumers should shop with prudence and procure services at reputable shops. Before making the purchase decision, consumers should not easily provide their identity card and credit card to a salesperson. Consumers should firmly refuse signing any sales documents if they have no intention to purchase.

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, June 8, 2016

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