Salesperson of dispensary convicted for selling Chinese herb with unfair trade practice (with photos)

11 Sep 2014

A salesperson of a dispensary was found guilty today (September 11) at Kwun Tong Magistrates' Courts of one count of engaging in a commercial practice involving misleading omission, contravening the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO). The defendant was sentenced to four months' imprisonment suspended for two years and was fined $20,000. The seized Chinese herb was confiscated. Regarding another salesperson in the same case, the prosecution offered no evidence on the case.

The Customs and Excise Department reminded traders and employees to abide by the law and comply with the statutory requirements of the TDO.

Acting on a complaint, Customs officers conducted a test purchase at the alleged Chinese herb dispensary in Mong Kok in late January this year. In the test purchase, two salespersons concerned intentionally avoided providing the unit price of dried ginseng when asked by Customs officers, thereby wilfully omitting and hiding the actual unit price. As a result, the consumer was misled into believing that the price was measured in catties, but in fact it was measured in taels. The transactional price was 16 times different from what the consumer expected. The salespersons were suspected of engaging in a commercial practice involving misleading omission in contravention of Section 13E of the TDO. Customs took immediate enforcement action and arrested the salespersons for prosecution.

Under the TDO, a trader engaged in relation to a consumer in a commercial practice who omits or hides material information; provides material information in a manner that is unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely; or fails to identify commercial intent, and as a result causes the average consumer to make a transactional decision that the consumer would not have made otherwise, commits an offence. The maximum penalty is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.

The department will continue to crack down on unfair trade practices for protection of consumer rights.

Members of the public may report any suspected violations of the TDO to Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Thursday, September 11, 2014

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