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The Consumer Council is waging publicity sanction on dishonestcamera and video supplies shops in the tourist shopping district of Tsimshatsui.

  • 1999.04.29

The Consumer Council is waging publicity sanction on dishonest camera and video supplies shops in the tourist shopping district of Tsimshatsui.

Three shops, located in close proximity of each other in the area, were named by the Council today for persisting in undesirable sales practices.

Since October last year, a total of 40 consumer complaints involving $323,000 were brought against these shops. All the complaints were made by tourists with amounts varying from $900 to $31,500.

Despite the mediation and warning of the Council, the three camera and video supplies shops have made no genuine attempt to improve their sales practices.

As the malpractices of these shops could seriously harm the image of Hong Kong as well as honest traders and in a bid to safeguard the interests of visiting tourists and local consumers alike, the Council has decided to name these shops identified as:

    Shop 2A, G/F., Chung King Mansion
    36-44 Nathan Road
    (14 complaints involving a total sum of $105,873)

    Shop 12, G/F., Mirador Mansion
    54-64 Nathan Road
    (10 complaints involving a total sum of $106,130)

    Shop A1, G/F., Alpha House
    No. 27-33 Nathan Road
    (16 complaints involving a total sum of $111,035)

The Council's enquiries have shown that the shops are owned by 3 different limited companies but all 3 have 1 director in common and 2 have 4 directors in common.

According to the complainants, the shops were allegedly adopting sales practices commonly referred to as "bait-and-switch" tactics.

The tactics involved "baiting" unwary customers with highly competitive price quotes into a transaction and then, through persuasion often with fabricated reasons, "switching" the hapless customers into the purchase of goods other than those of their own choice.

Often when a complainant asked for a particular brand of product, the salesman would quote a very competitive price and ask the complainant to make payment either by cash or credit card as the product was being "fetched" from some place nearby.

While the complainant was waiting, the salesman would convince his then captive customer to switch to an allegedly better but more pricey brand.

If the tactic was not immediately successful, the complainant would be left waiting for a long time and later told that the brand the complainant had chosen was "sold out" and not available.

With little or no alternative, the complainant was literally forced into purchasing the "recommended" brand usually at a higher than normal market price.

In some cases, the salesman would make false representations, such as foisting old model as new and misrepresenting the functions of the products, in order to clinch the transaction.

Complaints have also been raised that if complainants refused to switch to other brands and insisted upon refund of the money paid, the salesmen would turn hostile including the use of abusive language and rude manners.

Upon the intervention of the Council, the shops would normally make some reconciliatory effort by offering partial refund, goods exchange or free goods. Nevertheless, the shops have not ceased their undesirable trade practices.

Consumers are urged to be wary of retailers adopting "bait-and-switch" sales tactics in various guises. If they become the unfortunate victims, they should retain the receipt with as many details as possible on the transaction, and report the matter to the Consumer Council or to the police.

The Council has notified and requested the assistance of the Hong Kong Tourist Association to alert visiting tourists to such malpractices.

The Council is also in the process of drawing up a report with recommendations for better consumer protection against misleading claims and misrepresentation by dishonest traders. The report will be submitted to the Trade and Industry Bureau for its consideration later this year.

Complaints by tourists have recorded a steady rise from 625 cases in 1995 to 741 in 1996, 797 in 1997 and 846 in 1998. There were 237 cases in the first 3 months of this year.