Case 1 - 3
Upon approval of his immigration application, Mr. Cheung had to depart for Taiwan on short notice. In early October 2018, he engaged Company A to arrange for the relocation of his tortoise and 2 lizards to Taiwan at a cost of $7,100. Company A assured him verbally of an early November delivery date and gave him a sketchy handwritten receipt. However, Company A subsequently notified Mr. Cheung that they would need 2 more months to relocate his pets. Mr. Cheung waited patiently but in early January 2019, he was asked by Company A to pay an additional $4,000 to ship the tortoise, and Company A promised to deliver the pets within 2 weeks after this payment. Longing to see his pets, Mr. Cheung agreed to the payment reluctantly and deposited the said amount to a personal account provided by Company A.
Mr. Cheung made a number of enquires in the subsequent weeks but Company A would make up different excuses for the delay. Mr. Cheung returned to Hong Kong in March to find out in person what was going on. After several attempts by Mr. Cheung, Company A promised to deliver the pets by the end of March. But nothing happened eventually. A friend of Mr. Cheung went to Company A to check on his behalf and found that a tortoise for sale looked very similar to Mr. Cheung´s pet. Worrying that his pets were being put for sale, Mr. Cheung asked Company A for instant photos of his pets as proof of their safety. But this was met with rude and evasive replies which made Mr. Cheung more worried and therefore turned to the Council for help.
The Council contacted Company A repeatedly but to no avail and thus advised Mr. Cheung through his relatives and friends in Hong Kong to find out from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) if any animal health certificates were issued for his pets, and that he could also consider collecting the pets from the company to ensure their safety. The Council was notified in mid-April that Mr. Cheung’s relatives and friends had retrieved the tortoise but were told by Company A that the 2 lizards had died already. They reported the case to the Customs and Excise Department (C&ED). After investigation, C&ED told Mr. Cheung that there was insufficient evidence to prove that Company A had violated the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO). Mr. Cheung wanted to file a claim for the damages and the Council provided him with information relating to the Small Claims Tribunal (SCT).
Miss Chan bought a 4-month-old Maine Coon kitten from Company B at a price of $14,280. After she took the kitten home, it started to show mild symptoms of unwellness. Miss Chan thought it might need more time to adjust to the new environment and therefore took extra care of it. However, its condition deteriorated and Miss Chan decided to take it to a veterinarian. The kitten was diagnosed with peritonitis, and Miss Chan opined that the immune system of a kitten was usually more fragile. The kitten passed away eventually. Miss Chan was shocked to find out from the veterinarian that the kitten was actually a female, which did not match with the description on the receipt and vaccination record card provided by Company B which clearly had acted negligently or deceptively.
Although nothing could bring back the kitten’s life, Miss Chan could not accept the company’s sloppiness in mixing up the gender. She even suspected that Company B might have swapped a sick kitten with the one she intended to buy. Company B denied the accusations and refused to make any refund. It claimed that Miss Chan did not specify the gender of the kitten at the time of the purchase, and that peritonitis was not covered under the 14-day guarantee period as stipulated in the terms of the contract. Miss Chan was unsatisfied with this response. She told the Council that the kitten she bought was of a different gender to what was put down in the receipt and vaccination record card, which was clearly an act of gross negligence and that Company B should not shift the responsibility onto the consumers.
Company B responded to the Council saying that it would not make any special arrangements in Miss Chan’s case arguing that its refund policy was already set out in the contract, and that Miss Chan made the complaint 3 months after the purchase. Miss Chan learned that Company B had not changed its refund decision after the Council´s conciliation, and she would consider filing a claim with the SCT and authorised the Council to report the case to C&ED for investigation.
Miss Lee took her poodle to Company C for pet grooming service. 2 hours later, she was told that an accident had occurred and was urged to return to Company C as soon as possible. Miss Lee was sad to find a wound and some bloodstains on her poodle which appeared to have been inflicted during the hair trim. As Miss Lee was in a rush to take her poodle for medical treatment, she did not have the time to find out more details about the accident. Nonetheless, she held Company C accountable for the accident. After inspection, the veterinarian suggested to suture the wound by stitching, which would require general anesthesia. Considering that the poodle was already 13 years old and might not withstand the risk of general anesthesia, Miss Lee refused the suggestion and chose to clean the wound and feed her poodle with antibiotics daily. Miss Lee lodged a complaint with the Council about Company´s C negligence which had inflicted significant pain to the body and mind of her poodle. Moreover, the company did not express any solicitude nor follow up on the accident. Miss Lee therefore asked the Council to put the case on record and issue a letter to Company C to convey her dissatisfaction.
The Council sent a letter to Company C to convey Miss Lee’s dissatisfaction. The company replied saying that it was an accident and that it had already apologised to Miss Lee and paid for the medical expenses. After learning Company C´s response, Miss Lee said that the company had only paid for the medical expenses on the day of the incident, but her poodle was still under medical treatment. The Council suggested Miss Lee to consider seeking independent legal advice if she wanted to pursue further in recovering additional medical expenses.