A salesperson of a dispensary was found guilty today (July 28) at Kowloon City Magistrates' Courts of one count of engaging in a commercial practice involving misleading omission, thus contravening the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO), and was sentenced to 100 hours of community service. A quantity of a Chinese herb worth $36,000 was confiscated.
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 Tsim Sha Tsui in early March this year. In the test purchase, the salesperson concerned intentionally avoided providing the unit price of a Chinese herb 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 taels, but in fact it was measured in maces. The transactional price was 10 times different from what the consumer expected. The salesperson was 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 salesperson 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/Monday, July 28, 2014