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

9 Mar 2016

Hong Kong Customs yesterday (March 8) arrested a 40-year-old salesman of a ginseng and dried seafood shop suspected of adopting unfair trade practices involving a misleading omission in the sale of dried American ginseng, which might have contravened the Trade Descriptions ordinance (TDO).

A Customs officer disguised as customer and conducted test-buy at a ginseng and dried seafood shop in Tsim Sha Tsui yesterday. A salesman was suspected to have misled him to purchase one catty of dried American ginseng believing that the price was $440 per catty. After the American ginseng was sliced, the salesman demanded $7,040 and revealed that the goods were priced at $440 per tael. The amount charged was 16 times more than expected. Investigation is ongoing and the arrested person has been released on bail pending further investigation.

Under the TDO, a trader who engages in relation to a consumer 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 that the consumer would not have made otherwise, commits an offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.

Customs reminded traders to abide by the law 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 before making a purchase decision.

Customs will closely monitor suspected violations of the TDO and will continue to crack down on unscrupulous traders for the protection of consumer rights. Members of the public may report suspected cases to Customs by calling the 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Wednesday, March 9, 2016

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