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Mission

I. VISION

To be the trusted voice in striving for consumer betterment towards safe and sustainable consumption in a fair and just market.

II. MISSION

The Council is committed to enhancing consumer welfare and empowering consumers to protect themselves. Consumers include consumers of goods and services and purchasers, mortgagors and lessees of immovable property.

  • it acts as advocate for consumer interests;
  • it facilitates constructive discussion and promulgation of pro-consumer policies;
  • it sees to empower consumers to help themselves.

This is to be achieved through initiatives directed at the consumers; the private sector; and networking with other stakeholders, such as the media and government.

III. CORE VALUES

  • be consumer interests driven, with due regard to the concept of sustainable consumption;
  • uphold fairness and justice;
  • maintain openness in our activities;
  • be independent and unsusceptible to undue influence;
  • be accountable;
  • discharge our functions proactively, constructively and with perseverance; and
  • protect the privacy of personal data.

IV. FUNCTIONS

The Consumer Council Ordinance prescribes the following functions for the Council:-

  • collecting, receiving and disseminating information concerning goods and services and immovable property;

  • receiving and examining complaints and giving advice to consumers of goods and services and purchasers, mortgagors and lessees of immovable property;

  • taking such action as it thinks justified by information in its possession, including tendering advice to the Government or to any public officer;

  • encouraging businesses and professional associations to establish codes of practice to regulate the activities of their members; and

  • undertaking such other functions as the Council may adopt with the prior approval of the Chief Executive in Council.

V. MAIN DUTIES

(i) Forestalling & Mediating Disputes between Consumers and Business

Consumer satisfaction is important to the marketplace. The Council offers a convenient service to consumers in making enquiries and lodging complaints, providing them with pre-shopping advice and help mediate disputes as they occur. Our consumer hotline (tel no.: 29292222) and our 7 Consumer Advice Centres (CACs) form an extensive network in offering convenient services to consumers.

Council staff conciliates the consumer disputes to help resolve complaints with pursuable grounds.

  • Conciliating Consumer Complaints:In 2012/13, the Council helped solve 75% of cases with pursuable grounds. A total of 26,955 complaints with 2,258 coming from tourists were received. CACs & Hotline Centre received 105,186 consumer enquiries. If traders refused to co-operate in resolving justifiable complaint cases, consumers may seek redress at the Small Claims Tribunal and the Council will tender advice where appropriate.

  • Exposing malpractices of traders:For dishonest traders who do not take the Council's advice and continually indulge in malpractices, the Council may convene a press conference to name them.

Number of consumer complaints from 2002/03 to 2012/13

Number of consumer complaints from 2002/03 to 2012/13

  • Co-operation with Hong Kong Police and the Customs & Excise Department:Council collaborate with the Hong Kong Police and the Customs & Excise Department in launching campaigns against trade malpractices.

(ii) Ensuring Product Quality and Safety

The Council conducts tests on consumer products to provide unbiased comparative test results to help consumers make rational choices, to alert them to product hazards and to induce improvements in product quality and safety.

How this is done?

There are three different types of tests:

  • Tests initiated and solely conducted with the Council's own resources. Most of these tests are conducted by accredited and independent laboratories in Hong Kong. In case local testing facilitates do not meet the Council's requirements, appropriate overseas laboratories will be commissioned.

  • The Council is a member of theInternational Consumer Research and Testing(ICRT). It benefits from ICRT's joint tests through which utilization of resources could be maximized and experience shared.

  • Tests conducted in cooperation with various local government/statutory organizations or overseas consumer associations.

  • Product testing: In 2012/13, 35 product testing reports and 16 study reports were published in Council's CHOICE magazine (e.g., electric blanklets, hair strengtheners and curlers,  suitcases and eye shadows.)

  • Product Study Reports: They are reports of in-depth studies on a wide range of consumer products to provide consumer information and, in some cases, to verify product claims (e.g., olive oil labels, hair treatment products, electronic mosquito repellents, etc.)

  • International Exchange of Product Information: The Council pays special attention to the movement of unsafe products into Hong Kong and will request suppliers to recall any such products. Through communication with other consumer organisations and foreign authorities, the Council receives a constant flow of information about unsafe products found outside Hong Kong.

(iii) Collecting Market Information on Services and Goods

Hong Kong has developed into a service-oriented economy and consumers need more information on a wide range of services. We conduct opinion surveys, market surveys and price surveys to collect information on services for the benefit of consumers.

In 2012/13, 28 surveys and service study reports were conducted:
- Finance and banking: e.g. MPF schemes, package tours bundled with travel insurance.
- Daily living: e.g. annual supermarket price survey, textbook price survey and infant formulae price survey, etc.

(iv) Promoting Sustainable Consumption

Consumers as ultimate users can exert influence in the sustainable consumption and production equation, although the latter is a much stronger party. The Council promotes and supports sustainable consumption through comparative product testing and dissemination of information which enable consumers to make informed choices and to help conserve natural resources and waste reduction.

(v) Advocating Best Practice and Competition in the Marketplace

In a market-based economy such as Hong Kong, the Council has a role to play in ensuring that best practice and competition in the marketplace bring desired effects of consumer satisfaction and economic efficiency, thereby benefiting consumer welfare - with lower prices, more choices and higher quality of products and services.

The Council undertakes research and study on various aspects of marketplace behaviour to identify matters of concern to consumers as well as to encourage responsible trade practices and fair competition.

Encouraging responsible trade practices:

The Council worked closely with the beauty industry in promoting the Beauty Industry Code of Practice. In the end of 2007, the Code was incorporated into the industry manual of professional operation and business management as part of the industry initiative to provide the best beauty service.

Responding to Consultations:

The Council responds to consultation conducted by government or other public bodies on consumer-related issues, for examples, Marketing of Beastmilk Substitutes, Residential Properties (First-hand Sales) and Trade Descriptions (Unfair Trade Practices).

(vi) Disseminating Consumer Information

As consumers become better informed, they will be better able to safeguard their interests against undesirable trade practices and unsafe goods and services, to exercise rational choices, and to contribute to sustainable consumption.

  • Multi-media consumer information service:
    • CHOICE magazine:The magazine provides a regular outlet of information, advice and viewpoints on all matters affecting consumer interest.

      • It does not accept any commercial advertisements. In addition to copyright protection, the Consumer Council Ordinance strictly prohibits the exploitation of the Council's name or its research information for commercial and promotional purposes.
      • A press conference is held to launch the publication of each issue of CHOICE, generating widespread coverage in all sectors of the media.
      • During 2012/13, the sales of CHOICE magazine averaged 19,587 copies per issue.

    • CHOICE Online ( http://www.consumer.org.hk/choice/online ):CHOICE Online, a full PDF version in both traditional and simplified Chinese, provides all of the reports in each current edition and an archive of over 9 years of back issues of CHOICE for access by all internet users, for viewing on annual subscription or per issue or per report basis.

  • Media liaison: Regular press conferences, news releases, briefing and interviews are arranged for all sectors of the media.

  • Council's website ( http://www.consumer.org.hk ):Information posted on the website includes information on our structure and services, research reports, submissions to the Government and the Legislative Council, press releases, competition study reports, consumer complaints forms, CHOICE index and subscription forms, etc.

  • The Shopsmart Website ( http://www.consumer.org.hk/shopsmart ):Available in both the traditional and simplified Chinese versions, the website "精明消費香港遊" offers an unique one-stop consumer service covering a broad range of products and topics of interest and concern to Mainland tourists. It can be readily accessed via a network of hyperlinks with the websites of sister consumer organizations in the Mainland, through the cooperation and assistance of the China Consumers Association.

  • Publicity programmes:Events held annually include the Consumer Rights Reporting Awards, Top Ten Consumer News, World Consumer Rights Day commemorative activities.

(vii) Empowering Consumer through Education

Consumer education forms an integral part of the consumer empowerment objective of the Council. The Council has provided institutional support to other organisations and educational institutes to enable them to run their own consumer education programmes. Tailor-made activities are designed to cater for three major target groups - namely young people, senior citizens and new immigrants.

  • Enhancing youth awareness in consumer rights:

    Consumer Culture Study Award is an annual event jointly organised with the Education Bureau for local secondary schools. Participants are to study a particular aspect of our local consumer culture, exploring consumer attitudes, values and behaviours in Hong Kong. In 2012/13, 102 schools with more than 947 teams participating in the event.

    Besides, Youth Development Service Scheme aims to provide an opportunity for the trained youth volunteer leaders learning more about consumer issues through involvement in the Council's activities.


  • Education Programmes for the vulnerable groups:

  • For senior citizens, programmes aim to educate them on: health and safety concerns in selecting and consuming products and services; precautions from falling prey to consumer traps; etc. - Upon the requests from other social services institutes, the 3rd Consumer Culture Study Award for Third Age Persons was launched in 2013 to engage more third age persons in the understanding and analysis of the local consumer culture.

  • For new immigrants, regular programmes are developed for the new comers from the Mainland to familarise themselves with local consumer protection measures.

  • Training the trainers:

    Including community involvement service scheme for women and third aged volunteers, training programmes for teachers on consumer education, training seminar for Technology and Living teachers, and staff training for school teachers.

  • Consumer Council Resource Centre:

    Located in Tsimshatsui, the Centre's facilities include a Consumer Advice Centre, an exhibition-cum-lecture hall, and a resource library. Teaching resources development includes curriculum resource package on reflections on the learning and teaching strategies of project learning, education resources kit on project-based learning for PSHE at secondary level, DVD-ROM of winning reports of the Consumer Culture Study Award, teaching kits on labeling and advertising and consumer education resource kit for new immigrants.

(viii) Representing the Consumer Voice and Networking

Everyone is a consumer. Our efforts to promote consumer interests will become more effective when we work closely with other partners and stakeholders locally and overseas.

  • Locally:

    We maintain close liaison with the Government through the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau , which oversees consumer protection and competition policy. Besides, the Council liaises with over 10 other bureaux and 30 Government departments, facilitating the Council's work in addressing specific consumer issues that fall within their purview. Council's representatives serve about 65 public advisory committees and boards of regulatory or statutory bodies.

  • Liaison with Mainland counterparts:

    • Close liaison with consumers associations and related bodies from the Mainland (over 3,100 consumer associations in the whole country) is maintained through exchange of information, referral of complaints, receiving their delegations or providing training to their staff.

    • Memoranda of Cooperation have been signed with consumer associations in major cities/provinces in the Mainland, including Beijing, Guangdong Province, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Chengdu, Zhejiang Province, Fujian Province, Shantung Province, Hang Yang City, Macau, the Pan-Pearl River Delta Region, etc.

    • With the assistance of the China Consumer Association , the Shopsmart Website was launched in 2007 to provide consumer information to Mainland visitors. 28 consumer organizations in the Mainland as well as the China National Tourism Administration added in their official websites a hyperlink to the ShopSmart Website.

  • Regional and international collaboration:

    • The Council is elected executive and council member of the Consumer International (CI), a federation of consumer organisations comprising over 220 members from 115 countries. The Council has been actively involved in major international and regional conferences/seminars.

    • The Council, as a co-host with Consumers International (CI), was fully engaged in the planning and organization work in preparation for the 19 th Consumers International World Congress which had been held in Hong Kong on 3-6 May 2011. The Congress was successfully inaugurated and concluded, drawing over 700 delegates and speakers from consumer organizations around the world, as well as trade and industries, academics, governments, NGOs and the media from over 80 countries/jurisdictions.

    • In 2012/13, international events attended by Council's representatives included the Financial Services Conference co-hosted by the Consumers International and Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue, the 12th Session of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Competition Law and Policy organized by UNCTAD, the CI Global Meeting on Review of United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection and the CI Asia Pacific Meeting. Exchanges with overseas experts and consumer advocates on these occasions ehnhanced the Council's foresight in meeting and overcoming challenges in the ever-changing consumer market.


(ix) Improving Legal Protection for Consumers

Consumers' legal rights should be protected by law. We keep abreast of developments in the law that may affect consumers' positions and welfare as users of goods and services. We took all the initiative to improve and protect consumers' legal rights by submitting our views in that regard to the Government and relevant bodies.

In recent years, the Council expressed views and made recommendations in areas such as improvement on the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, introduction of a comprehensive trade practices statute, proposed regulatory regime for stored value facilities and retail payment system, unfair terms in standard form consumer contracts, regulation on the property management industry, and report on public consultation on review of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance ("PDPO").

(x) Consumer Legal Action Fund

The Council is the Trustee of the Consumer Legal Action Fund through a Declaration of Trust executed in November, 1994. The Fund was established with a Government grant of $10 million. It aims to give easier consumer access to legal remedies by providing financial support and legal assistance for the benefits of consumers, particularly, groups with similar grievances in cases involving significant public interest and injustice.

From 11/1994 to 3/2013:

Number of applications considered: 1,260
Problem solved during application: 165
Assistance granted: 684 (compensation recovered: 203)