Dried seafood hawkers fined for displaying misleading price indication (with photos)

30 Jan 2012

Two dried seafood hawkers were convicted separately today (January 30) and last Friday (January 27) at Kwun Tong Magistrates' Court for failing to indicate unit prices of goods on signs in a readily comprehensible manner, as required by the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO). The defendants were fined $5,000 and $2,000 and their seized dried abalone was forfeited.

The Customs and Excise Department initiated two operations in September and October 2011 against an itinerant hawker stall selling dried abalone in Mong Kok. In the operations, Customs officers, disguised as customers, found that the unit quantity, tael, marked on the placards was covered by a stapler on one occasion and by a tablecloth on the other occasion.

The stall operators prevaricated when they were asked about the price units and misled consumers into believing that the unit price of the dried abalone was calculated in catties instead of taels. A total of 600 taels of dried abalone worth $148,000 were seized in the two operations and two female operators were arrested.

Under the TDO, any person who fails to indicate the price per unit of quantity on a sign in a readily comprehensible manner has committed a criminal offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.

A spokesman for the department said, "We will continue to combat dishonest trade practices by unscrupulous traders to protect consumers' interests. The conviction has shown clearly that the department does not tolerate the malpractice of covering price signs in order to cheat consumers."

The spokesman appealed to traders to abide by the law and reminded consumers to buy dried seafood from reputable shops. He also urged consumers to observe the price per unit of quantity, ask about the price of goods before any purchase, and keep the receipts.

To report suspected violations of the TDO, consumers may call the Customs 24-hour hotline at 2545 6182.

Ends/Monday, January 30, 2012

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