Hong Kong Customs combats unfair trade practices at ginseng and dried seafood shop

9 Jun 2015

Hong Kong Customs yesterday (June 8) arrested a salesperson of a ginseng and dried seafood shop suspected of adopting an unfair trade practice in the sale of maca to a visitor. The suspected practice involving misleading omission might have contravened the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO).

Customs earlier received a complaint that a consumer purchased one catty of maca from the salesperson with the understanding in the course of sale that a "catty" would cost $490. However, the goods were valued at $490 per "maca" when making payment. The amount paid was 160 times more than what the consumer had expected. The arrest was made after investigation by Customs.

Investigation of the case is still continuing. The arrested person has been released on bail pending further investigation.

The amended TDO has come into effect since July 19, 2013 to deter unfair trade practices, including a provision that prohibits a trader to omit or hide material information; to provide in the course of trade material information in a manner that is unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely, and causes or is likely to cause the consumer to make a transactional decision that the consumer would not have made otherwise. A trader who engages in relation to a consumer in a commercial practice that is a misleading omission commits an offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.

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

Customs will closely monitor suspected violations of the TDO and will take appropriate enforcement actions against traders adopting unfair trade practices in the sale of goods or services.

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

Ends/Tuesday, June 9, 2015

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