False claims on website violate Trade Descriptions Ordinance

12 May 2014

A detective company that made false claims on its website by offering consumers a service to which a false trade description had been applied was suspected to have contravened the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO). Following prosecution taken by the Customs and Excise Department (C&ED), one of the partners responsible for the daily business of the company, pleaded guilty at the Kwun Tong Magistracy today (May 12) and was fined $30,000 for the offence. Regarding another partner of the company, the prosecution offered no evidence on the case.

The C&ED received a complaint in November last year about a false claim on the website of a detective company. Acting on the information provided, the department initiated a series of investigations and found that some claims posted on the company's website, including the year of establishment, the years of detective experience and staff qualifications, were false. The C&ED subsequently undertook prosecution action against the company.

A C&ED spokesperson reminded traders to comply with the statutory requirements of the TDO. Traders should not provide consumers with false or misleading information on its services or goods (product). If traders are uncertain about the truthfulness of the product information, they should verify it before providing it to consumers.

The newly amended TDO came into effect on July 19 last year to deter unfair trade practices, including "applying false trade description to service", for greater consumer protection. It is an offence for a trader, in the course of trade or business, to apply a false trade description to a service supplied or offered to be supplied to a consumer; or supply or offer to supply to a consumer a service to which a false trade description is applied. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.

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/Monday, May 12, 2014

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