Stall operator convicted for unfair trade practices

18 Feb 2014

A mobile dried seafood stall operator today (February 18) was convicted at Kowloon City Magistracy for infringement of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO) for misleading sales practice in the course of selling dried abalone to customers. The operator was convicted and sentenced to one month's imprisonment. The seized abalone, with a total value of about $100,000, was confiscated.

Customs officers carried out an operation on August 13, 2013, and purchased dried abalone from the mobile stall. In the course of the purchase, the stall operator repeatedly avoided providing the unit price of the goods to consumers, and omitted and hid the fact that the unit price of the goods in question was calculated in taels, intending to mislead consumers to believe that the goods were calculated in catties instead of taels. The stall operator was charged for contravening Section 13E of the TDO on misleading omissions.

The amended TDO came into effect on July 19 last year. It aims to prohibit unscrupulous trade practices including misleading omission. Among others, a trader may commit the offence of misleading omissions under Section 13E if it adopts a commercial practice which omits or hides material information, or provides material information in a manner that is unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely. As a result, it causes or is likely to cause an average consumer to make a transactional decision that he would not have made otherwise. Offenders are liable to a maximum penalty of $500,000 and five years' imprisonment upon conviction. This case is the first conviction by the court under Section 13E.

The Customs and Excise Department reminds traders to comply with the law and to give consumers sufficient material information that is necessary for them to make an informed transactional decision. Consumers should purchase goods from reputable traders, enquire more about the information of the goods before any purchase, observe the prices and units of sale on price tags and keep the receipts for future reference.

Suspected violations of the TDO should be reported to the Customs 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Tuesday, February 18 2014

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