Hong Kong Customs combats unfair trade practices at medicine shop

9 Mar 2023

​Hong Kong Customs today (March 9) arrested two salesmen of a medicine shop suspected of engaging in unfair trade practices involving misleading omission in the course of selling American ginseng, in contravention of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO).

A Customs officer disguised as customer and conducted a test-buy operation at a medicine shop in Tsim Sha Tsui today. A salesman was suspected to have misled the officer to believe that the unit price of American ginseng was calculated per catty. After the product was sliced by another salesman, they revealed that American ginseng was priced per tael. The charged price was 16 times different from what was expected. Customs officers then arrested the two salesmen, aged 54 and 58.

An investigation is ongoing and the two arrested men were held for inquiry.

Customs has all along been concerned about visitors being misled to make purchases by unfair trade practices and has established a Quick Response Team to handle urgent complaints lodged by short-haul visitors. The complaints will be promptly referred to investigators to handle with priority.

Customs reminded traders to comply with the requirements of the TDO and consumers to purchase products from reputable shops. Consumers should also be cautious about the unit price and ask for more information, including the total price of the goods selected, before making a purchase decision.

Under the TDO, any trader who engages in a commercial practice that omits or hides material information or provides material information in a manner that is unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely, and as a result causes, or is likely to cause, an average consumer to make a transactional decision, commits an offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.

Members of the public may report any suspected violations of the TDO to Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 or its dedicated crime-reporting email account (crimereport@customs.gov.hk).

Ends/Thursday, March 9, 2023

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