Customs investigates suspected cases of applying false trade descriptions in sale of wedding services

18 Aug 2015

The Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) earlier received two complaints against staff members of wedding service companies suspected of applying false trade descriptions in the sale of wedding services.

In one of the cases, it was suspected that the staff involved had claimed that banquet food would be cooked at the wedding venue. Upon receiving a deposit from the complainant, the staff indicated that the food would be provided by catering delivery service. The cost of the banquet involved was more than $240,000. In another case, it was complained that the staff had stated that the wedding ceremony would be held at a distinctive building. The building was found to be an illegal structure set for demolition. The wedding service involved was valued at more than $50,000.

After follow-up investigation, the C&ED took enforcement action from early August. Three women and one man, aged between 31 and 42, were arrested. The case is still under investigation and the arrested persons have been put on bail.

A trader commits an offence under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO) if he or she applies false trade descriptions to a service supplied to a consumer, or if he or she supplies to a customer 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 management staff will also be liable if the offence is committed with their consent or connivance or is attributed to their neglect.

The C&ED reminded wedding service traders and staff in the industry to abide by the law. In the course of sale, they should provide information to consumers in a clear and accurate manner and should not apply false trade descriptions to mislead consumers. Consumers should be well aware of all details of the contracts, including verbal statements made by salespersons. In case there are any discrepancies, consumers should clarify with the sales staff and make proper documentary records to protect their interests. Before making any purchase, consumers should gather relevant information and procure services from reputable traders.

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

Ends/Tuesday, August 18, 2015

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