Promoting body treatment package with aggressive commercial practices found to contravene Trade Descriptions Ordinance

2 Apr 2015

Three beauticians of a company were sentenced today (April 2) after being convicted at Kowloon City Magistrates' Courts of engaging in aggressive commercial practices in the course of selling a body treatment package, contravening the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO). The first defendant was sentenced to 200 hours of community service. The second and the third defendants were each sentenced to three months' imprisonment as well as to compensate the victim $70,000 in total.

In a complaint received by the Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) in November 2013, three beauticians of a company providing beauty services were alleged to have exerted undue influence on a consumer and caused the consumer to involuntarily pay $70,000 as the deposit for a body treatment package valued at $140,000.

Investigation by C&ED revealed that on November 20, 2013, the three beauticians, comprising an operations manageress, a beauty consultant and a beauty supervisor, on the pretext of examining the consumer's chest, told her that she had lumps which could mutate into cancer and suggested that she purchase the body treatment package. Despite the fact that the consumer had expressed her reluctance towards purchasing any treatment package, they continued the sales practice for over one-and-a-half hours, trying to convince her repeatedly. The consumer found their constant persuasion annoying but was scared and worried that she might have cancer, and finally purchased the body treatment package unwillingly.

The amended TDO came into effect on July 19, 2013, to deter unfair trade practices. Among such practices, a trader who engages in relation to a consumer in a commercial practice that is aggressive commits an offence. Aggressive commercial practice includes the provision that "prohibits a trader to impair the consumer's freedom of choice or conduct in relation to the product concerned through the use of harassment, coercion or undue influence and causes or is likely to cause the consumer to make a transactional decision that the consumer would not have made otherwise". The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.

The C&ED reminded traders, including any person acting in the name of, or on behalf of, a trader, to comply with the statutory requirements of the TDO and not to contravene the Ordinance in the course of sales.

The C&ED will closely monitor suspected violations of the TDO and will take appropriate enforcement action against traders adopting unfair trade practices in the sale of goods or services.

Members of the public may report suspected cases to the C&ED by calling the 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Thursday, April 2, 2015

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