Hong Kong retailers are under increased scrutiny by regulatory authorities this week with the Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) promising rapid response to any complaints of tourists being ripped off during National Day Golden Week.
C&ED has launched an operation codenamed Aurora, promising stepped-up patrols for consumer protection all week.
There will be increased patrols at shopping spots, as well as dried seafood and ginseng shops, jewellery shops and other retailers in popular shopping areas such as Yau Ma Tei, Tsim Sha Tsui, Mong Kok, Wan Chai and Causeway Bay. The C&ED will also remind retail shops and workers in the tourist industry to abide by the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO).
The deputy head of the Trade Descriptions Investigation Bureau, Ma Kwong-cho, and the divisional commander of the Unfair Trade Practice Investigation Group, Sun Wai-yee, said a Quick Response Team of the C&ED will attend to short-stay visitors’ urgent cases pertaining to reports of unfair trade practices.
According to the TDO, any trader who adopts unfair trade practices, including making false trade descriptions in relation to goods and misleading omissions, aggressive commercial practices, and “bait and switch” practices, commits an offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and five years in jail.
Customs has also reminded shoppers they should have a good understanding of the product specifications before purchase.
“They should do price comparisons and patronise shops with a good reputation. They are also reminded to check carefully the price and unit of measurement before making payment and retain the receipt after purchase,” the officials said.