Customs detects dispensary selling proprietary Chinese medicine with false representations (with photos)

10 Dec 2013

The Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) took action against a dispensary which verbally made false representations to deceive customers by selling the Chinese proprietary medicine "Nanjing Tong Ren Tang On Kung Niu Huang Wan" as "Beijing Tong Ren Tang Angong Niuhuang Wan". In the operation, Customs seized 13 boxes of "Nanjing Tong Ren Tang On Kung Niu Huang Wan" valued at $6,240 and a 43-year-old male sales person was arrested.

After receiving a complaint, Customs officers initiated a series of investigations and conducted test purchases at the alleged dispensary. In two test purchases, Customs officers explicitly ordered "Beijing Tong Ren Tang Angong Niuhuang Wan", but were given "Nanjing Tong Ren Tang On Kung Niu Huang Wan". The sales person also falsely claimed that the product was "Beijing Tong Ren Tang Angong Niuhuang Wan" and the sales receipts provided by him did not bear the product name. He also claimed that the goods on display in the shop were all "Beijing Tong Ren Tang Angong Niuhuang Wan". Upon inspecting the goods, Customs officers found that the Chinese characters "Nanjing, China, Tong Ren Tang Pharmaceutical Company Limited" were printed on each of the boxes but the characters "Nanjing, China" were concealed by labels on all the boxes.

The sales person was arrested for supplying or offering to supply in the course of trade goods to which a false trade description was applied and was suspected of violating the newly amended Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO). The case is still under investigation.

A Customs spokesperson said today (December 10) that the C&ED will continue to crack down on unfair trade practices to protect consumer rights. Traders should not supply or offer to supply any goods to which a false trade description is applied and should not apply any false trade description to goods. Under the TDO, a false trade description means a trade description which is false to a material degree; or which, though not false, is misleading, that is to say, likely to be taken for a trade description of a kind that would be false to a material degree.

The spokesperson urged traders to abide by the law and reminded consumers to patronise reputable shops. Consumers should, after payment, request the shop to provide invoices or receipts stating the name and information of the products. In addition consumers should carefully examine the products purchased. In case of any suspected violation of the TDO, the products and receipts should be properly retained for Customs’ investigation.

Under the TDO, any person who in the course of trade or business applies a false trade descriptions to goods, supplies goods with a false trade description, 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.

Ends/Tuesday, December 10 2013

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