The Consumer Council today (9 August) named 2 audio-video shops in Tsimshatsui for persistent adoption of bait-and-switch and misrepresentation sales tactics against the tourists.
The 2 shops were the subject of a total of 143 complaints since January 2010. To alert the consumers of their malpractices, the Council has resolved to name the 2 shops:
- Modern Digital ( photo )
Shop B, G/F Majestic House, 80 Nathan Road, Tsimshatsui, Kowloon.
- Sunshine City ( photo )
Portion A of shop 2, G/F Chung King Mansion, 36 - 44 Nathan Road, Tsimshatsui, Kowloon.
The Council's naming, as a public censure, is to send a strong signal to the traders that the unscrupulous sales tactics are undesirable and to alert tourists and public to the pitfalls of misrepresentation and bait-and-switch sales tactics adopted by these shops.
Complaint statistics of the Consumer Council showed that the named shops mainly targeted at the tourists. The Council received 62 and 27 complaints against Modern Digital and Sunshine City respectively last year. In the first seven months this year, 33 complaints were lodged against Modern Digital while 21 cases were directed to Sunshine City.
All the above complaints were brought forth by tourists with a total amount involving HK$ 1,609,000. The products involved were mainly photographic equipments (e.g. cameras and accessories) and computer products.
Details of individual cases were highlighted in the Annexure.
The Council has repeatedly drawn the shops' attention to their questionable sales practices adopted, and attempts were made to solicit their undertaking for improvement of their practices. Despite the effort made by the Council, the shops made no genuine attempt to improve their sales practices.
The Council therefore decides to name these 2 shops and will notify the Tourist Commission and Hong Kong Tourism Board about the malpractices of the 2 shops. The China Consumers' Association and the National Tourism Administration of the People's Republic of China will also be informed.
The Council is concerned about the unscrupulous sales tactics in the tourist areas which would jeopardize the image of Hong Kong as a world class city. In the first seven month of this year, the Council received 272 complaint cases regarding audio-video and digital electronic products in comparison with the 247 cases over the corresponding time last year, recording an increase of 10%.
The Consumer Council advises the consumers to take note of the followings when purchasing audio-video products:
- Collect data and price information of the favourite model / brand that you want to purchase.
- Do not purchase any brand / model with which you are not familiar.
- Do not pay before you examine the product.
- If you are in doubt with the price of the product, shop around for price comparison in different areas or reputable shops.
- Ask for the receipt which listed all the relevant details of the products purchased, as well as the terms of after-sales services.
Undesirable Sales Tactics Adopted by Modern Digital
A tourist from Shenzhen was attracted by a large billboard of a Japanese audiovisual manufacturer at the entrance of the shop when he walked past it. Mistaking the shop for a franchise store of that Japanese manufacturer, the consumer enquired the price of a projector displayed in the shop. The salesman told him that it cost HK3,200 and when he asked why the logo of the Japanese manufacturer was not on the projector, he was told that the product was produced by a subsidiary of the Japanese manufacturer. He bargained and paid HK$2,800 for the projector.
The salesman then persuaded him to buy a "better model" with higher resolution and remote control. The product was priced at HK$5,100 and the shop agreed to cut the price down to HK$4,750. The consumer finally paid an additional HK$1,950 for the new offer. During the transaction, the consumer had asked for a trial of the new product, but was rejected by the salesman on the grounds that there were no batteries.
After returning to Shenzhen, the consumer checked the details of the product online, but failed to find any information about the brand. He even made calls to the after-sales service provider in the mainland by using the contact information provided by the shop in Hong Kong, but the service provider said they did not have any information about the product. The consumer finally found on the web a projector with a package completely identical with the one he had purchased, but with a different brand name and priced at RMB2,400. He soon discovered that the brand was never a subsidiary of the Japanese manufacturer. Feeling that he had been cheated, he tried to seek compensation via the Consumer Council.
When a tourist from South Africa looked for a camera (model A) in Hong Kong for his daughter, he was told by the shop that the price was US$1,250, and he was persuaded to get a newer and better camera (model B) at the price of US$1,400. Without either a packaging case or instruction booklet to go along with the camera (Model B), the consumer was given a free camera bag and was told that the receipt could be used as a worldwide warranty and that he could read the instructions online.
When he left Hong Kong for Shanghai, he soon found out from a friend that the camera he bought was actually an old model. He then changed his travel plan and flew back to Hong Kong, as the receipt stated that he could return the product within 7 days and get 70% of the money back.
He returned to the shop and asked to replace the product with model A. His request was turned down on the reason that he did not have the packaging case or instruction booklet. Stated in the receipt, the shop only accepted to take the returned product on condition that "the goods are with all accessory and packing box, otherwise the shop had the absolute discretion to refuse to re-purchase". He was further told that the price of model A had risen to US$2,000 over the past week. The shop further suggested the consumer to buy model A with a 10% discount plus a free flash. The consumer rejected the offers and returned to South Africa.
What made matters worse was that when the complainant took the camera to a dealer in South Africa, he was told that the camera which he bought was a second-hand one and the functions were not working properly. He also found that the product cost only one-third of the price in South Africa. Totally disappointed with the unethical practices of the shop, the consumer lodged the case to the Consumer Council.
Undesirable Sales Tactics Adopted by Sunshine City
When a tourist from Shenzhen asked for the price of a digital camera, he was told that the product was sold at HK$1,350. The consumer was asked to pay by credit card before the product could be fetched from somewhere nearby. After waiting for almost half an hour, the consumer was told that the product was out of stock. When the consumer asked for refund, the salesman recommended a "better model" at HK$1,700, and the consumer eventually bought the model at the "bargain price" of HK$1,500. Returning to Shenzhen, he found that the price for the camera was only HK$600.
A Shanghai tourist was told to pay HK$8,000 for a camera and a lens with anti-shock function before he could examine the products at the shop. After making the payment, the tourist found that the lens did not have the anti-shock function as claimed by the salesman. He immediately requested for refund but was rejected. Meanwhile, the tourist was recommended to choose another lens which the salesman claimed was the latest model with anti-shock function. The tourist eventually paid an additional HK$4,100 for the equipment.
After returning to the hotel, the tourist immediately checked the information of the product online and found that the lens, which cost only HK$2,300, was neither the latest model nor had the anti-shock function. He returned to the shop the next day to seek for refund, but the shop said they would only return 70% of the amount paid. As he found the offer unacceptable, the consumer reported his case to the police and lodged the case with the Consumer Council.