History of Council
ForwardEmail this page
Council's History at a Glance
From testing of edible oil to online Apps on diesel auto fuel, from wet market food prices to purchase of residential flats, since its inception in 1974, the Consumer Council has resolutely pursued its mission, and for over 40 years, closely followed the progress of consumer rights. Join us on this journey of time to bear witness to those memorable moments.
Established in 1974, the Consumer Council was tasked with the function to deal with issues of consumer rights arising from the purchase and use of goods. The founding Chairman was the Hon. Sir Y.K. Kan. In 1975, its functions was extended to cover also services. In the same year, it became a member of the then IOCU (International Organization of Consumers Unions), and inaugurated its consumer advice service – first in Asia – with a Consumer Advice Centre respectively in the Wanchai and Shamshuipo City District Offices.
- Due to drastic fluctuations in food prices, the Council initiated a "Daily Bulletin of Retail Prices of Essential Foodstuffs" broadcast daily on the radio in price comparison for the market shoppers.
- The function of the Council was expanded to include services in addition to goods.
- The forerunner of the CHOICE Magazine – the launch of the Consumers Monthly Newsletter with a print run of 30,000 copies for free distribution to the general public.
- Opened its first 2 Consumer Advice Centres located each in the City District Office of Wanchai and Shamshuipo – ushering in the first of such service in the Asian region.
- Undertook its first comparative product testing – on a staple food item closely related to our health; the edible cooking oil.
- The debut of CHOICE Magazine – at a cover price of HK$1.
- Became a Member of IOCU (now Consumers International CI) joining forces with consumer organizations the world over in striving for consumer rights.
- Released its first research report – on Purchase of Residential Flats.
- Followed by publication of its study report on hire purchase transactions, and a report on the practice of truncation of films by film distributors in Hong Kong.
- The Consumer Council Ordinance was enacted formally incorporating the Council as a statutory body.
- In collaboration with the Education Department, a consumer education teaching kit was produced for use of Form 3 students in schools.
- Organized its first Consumer Education Seminar in partnership with the IOCU on the theme of "The Law and the Consumer", drawing an international assembly of 160 delegates from 34 countries.
The rapid changes of the Hong Kong society led to a major shift in the area of consumer concerns from basic livelihood necessities to a whole diverse range of goods and services, necessitating a wider field of consumer protection and new initiatives of the Consumer Council. Notably, the Travel Agents Ordinance came into operation in 1986 enabling greater protection to the growing number of outbound holiday travelers. In mid-80s, the Council stepped up its publicity sanctions against dishonest traders to deter malpractices and alert the public.
- The lobbying efforts of the Council paid off richly as in a surprise move, the Government announced, in November 1981, the implementation of anti-smoking measures including the formation of a publicity steering committee, in parallel with the concomitant introduction of legislation prohibiting smoking in public areas. The Council undertook to publish, at regular intervals in CHOICE, the test results by the Government Chemist on the tar and nicotine contents of cigarettes.
- The attention of the Government was drawn to issues of safety of domestic gas and electric appliances resulting subsequently to proposals to amend the related Ordinance to strengthen the safety of electrical products.
- The Council was represented in the Law Reform Commission's insurance committee to study legal reform and the prevailing practices of the trade concerned.
- The Law for mandatory Marking Order for gold and gold ornaments was passed and put into implementation to protect consumers.
- In view of persistent consumer complaints to the Council leveled against money changers in charging commissions under different guises, legislative control was subsequently brought in by the Government for the regulation of the trade.
- In 1985, CHOICE underwent a major revamp that produced, much to the delight of the readers, a brand new look in content, layout, and design.
- It was not a pleasant year for the dodgy traders; within 1 year no fewer than a total of 11 shops were named publicly – and shamed – by the Council in sanction against their undesirable trade practices detrimental to consumer rights and interests.
- Opened its first Consumer Advice Centre (CAC) in the New Territories – in the district of Tsuen Wan – following policy agreement with the Government to add 2 CACs annually, covering eventually each of the districts across Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories.
- Submitted to the Government a Consumer Safety Report with recommendations for official measures to safeguard the consumer right to safety.
- The Trade Descriptions Ordinance came into effect; the Council's then Executive Director was appointed to sit on the Trading Standards Advisory Committee to tender advice to the Director of Commerce and Industry on the enforcement of the Ordinance.
- At the World Congress of the IOCU held in the Hague, Holland, the Council's Executive Director was re-elected to chair its consumer education committee.
- In February 1986, after 6 years of lobbying by the Council, the authorities finally promulgated the long-awaited Travel Agents Ordinance.
- The Food and Drugs (Composition and Labeling) (Amendment) Regulations were passed to enhance consumer protection.
- In March 1986, the Council launched a massive product safety campaign to heighten consumer awareness.
- In 1986 and 1987, a number of major travel agencies went into closure prompting the Council, after an in-depth study, to put forward a package of redress measures to safeguard long-term consumer interests.
- The Council made submission of a research report on auto fuel price movements; at the end of 1987, oil companies were adjusting their pump prices closely in line with the import prices.
- Carcinogenic (cancer-causing) substances in high levels were detected in some of the infant pacifier samples put to test by the Council, prompting widespread parental concerns and a Government review on the situation.
- Domestic pesticides were brought under the ambit of control of the legislation originally designed specifically for pesticides of agricultural purposes only.
- The new Weights and Measures Ordinance came into operation to regulate supplies of goods based on weight and measures in commercial transactions.
- At the end of 1988, motor insurance premiums shot up by a hefty 80%, causing a huge public uproar. In swift response, the Council put forward a number of proposals on the levy of motor insurance premiums with consumer safeguards.
- In 1989, the issue of purchase of flats was again in the public limelight, the Council together with nine other organizations, including professional bodies, government departments and trade associations, jointly proposed a measurement method to standardize the calculation of the usable area of residential flats in sales brochures, and sales and purchase agreements.
- Echoing the interest and concern of the community, the theme of the Council's 1989 API (Announcement of Public Interest) was focused on outbound packaged tour travel with the slogan "Consumers have the right to be informed, the more you ask the smarter you are".
- In a fresh approach, commencing Issue No. 110 of CHOICE, film celebrities are featured regularly on the magazine front cover – the first such celebrity was superstar Leslie Cheung and the product chosen for the test was, appropriately, audio cassette tapes popular at the time.
- In August 1988, CHOICE published its first test comparative test report on condoms that saw the circulation of the magazine soaring to a historic high of 73,000 copies, a record still unsurpassed to-date.
In 1992, the then Governor Chris Patten defended strongly the importance of a free market in Hong Kong. To this end, the Council set up a working party to study the unfair anti-competition business practices in some market sectors. The study was crucial and instrumental in heralding in a new era of competition in Hong Kong. Most significantly, it led to the ultimate liberalization of bank interest rates and the telecoms services bringing direct benefits to the consumer public at large.
- After years of advocacy, the Control of Exemption Clauses Ordinance came into effect in December 1990. No longer can traders hide behind such exemption clause on sales memo as "Goods sold are not the responsibility of the company" to shirk their legal responsibility in the sales of goods and services.
- Launched a massive consumer education publicity campaign on the right to redress with the catchy slogan in Chinese which, in translation, means: "your consumer rights are in your hands, speak up to voice your strong support!"
- The Consumer Council Ordinance was amended to further extend its purview to include real estate property transactions offering even greater consumer protection to the public.
- In July 1991, the Council organized and played host to the 13th IOCU World Congress on the theme of Consumer Powers in the 90s with some 500 delegates in total from 60 countries across the world.
- In July 1992, in a new milestone in consumer safety protection, the much needed Toys and Children's Products Safety Ordinance was passed into law.
- Recommended the formation of Public Consultative Committees with public participation by public utilities companies to improve customer relations.
- In February 1994, the Council published the first of its series of competition sectoral study reports entitled “Are Hong Kong Depositors Fairly Treated?” The report called for the abolition, in phases, of the 3-decade-old Interest Rate Agreement. The Government was supportive of the recommendation; and in October 1994 abolished the restriction on interest rate for fixed-period deposits of more than one month.
- Three competition sectoral study reports followed in succession, namely, domestic water heating and cooking fuel, broadcasting, and telecoms service. The reports proposed opening up the Towngas pipeline distribution network, and the establishment of a policy bureau charged with overall coordination and insight of the broadcasting, telecoms and information technology policies. The recommendations were generally well received by the Government.
- Years of hard work successfully resulted in the introduction of 3 new pieces of consumer protection legislation, namely, the Supply of Services (Implied Terms) Ordinance, the Unconscionable Contracts Ordinance, and the Consumer Products Safety Ordinance. The legislation afforded consumers legal protection in contract transactions to redress the imbalance in bargaining powers between the buyers and the sellers, and in product safety. The Sales of Goods (Amendment) Ordinance was also passed clearly defining the merchantable quality of goods.
- In December 1994, the Council received a Government grant of $10 million to set up the Consumer Legal Action Fund to offer legal assistance in cases involving substantial consumer interests.
- In July 1996, released its study report on the Hong Kong residential property market, examining the level of competition existing in this market sector and putting forward a series of recommendations.
- In November 1996, the Council's series of competition study of a number of key market sectors culminated in the publication of "Competition Policy: the Key to Hong Kong’s Future Economic Success” analyzing from a macro economic perspective the pros and cons of the various ensuing discussions on the state of competition in the sectors under scrutiny. The conclusion: there was clearly a need in Hong Kong for a comprehensive competition policy to be backed up by legislation.
- The Estate Agents Authority was finally established, with Council representatives on a number of its steering committees and working groups.
- Since 1999, the Council has organized jointly with the Education Bureau the Consumer Cultural Study Awards. Participating secondary school students picked their own topics related to the local consumer culture, studying their consumer behavior, attitude and values, etc. A total of 331 schools participated in the Awards and together produced and completed more than 10,300 projects.
- The Monetary Authority (MA) released a paper entitled “Hong Kong Banking into the New Millennium – Hong Kong Banking Sector Consultancy Study” in which the MA recommended the abolition of the remainders of the Interest Rate Agreement beginning 2000. Welcoming the early abolition of the Agreement, the Council also urged that in implementation objective assessment criteria be drawn up based on the performance of the overall market and not of the individual banks.
- In the 90s, the Council's publicity slogan "Your consumer rights are in your hands, speak up to voice your strong support" proved to be a real hit among the public.
Into the new millennium, the financial service sector came into focus as one of major consumer issues. In 2008, the number of consumer complaints leveled against the sector rose sharply to a total of more than 40,000 cases, a tenfold increase, including 8,274 cases relating to the defunct global Lehman Brothers. One other controversy concerned the indemnity cost clause in credit card agreement which allegedly was in contravention of the Unconscionable Contracts Ordinance. The Court of Appeal and the Monetary Authority were both concerned in view of the public interest in this issue.
- In view of the important public interest involved, the Court of Appeal invited a Senior Counsel (SC) in the capacity as a "friend of the court" to tender legal opinions in the hearing of the case on indemnity cost clause in credit card agreement which might contravene the Unconscionable Contracts Ordinance. The Council also conducted a survey of the terms and conditions commonly stipulated in credit card contracts in the market, for the reference of the Senior Counsel on this case.
- After taking into consideration of the SC's opinions and the Council's submission, the Court of Appeal ruled that in accordance with the Unconscionable Contracts Ordinance, the credit card contracts were "unconscionable" and therefore without statutory effect. With this judicial judgment, the Council lost no time to engage in consultation with the Monetary Authority; and the majority of credit card companies compiled positively in adopting measures of improvement in their operations and codes of practice.
- In May 2001, the Council submitted to the Government its study report with recommendations for consumer protection legislations to curb the spread of deceptive, misleading and unfair trade practices in consumer transactions. This involved amendments to a number of existing legislations including the amended Small Claims Tribunal Ordinance, Trade Descriptions Ordinance, Summary Offences Ordinance and Unconscionable Contracts Ordinance. The report also proposed merging the current consumer protection ordinances into one omnibus fair trading ordinance.
- In July 2001, the Interest Rate Agreement in banking was ultimately abolished in entirety. Immediately the Council followed up with survey to assess the impact to the small depositors. The results clearly showed that banks were quick to offer new products to appeal to different types of customers and, furthermore, new deposit account services to cater specifically to the underprivileged in the community.
- In October 2001, the Consumer Council Resource Centre was inaugurated in Tsimshatsui, Kowloon. The building of the Centre was made possible with a grant of land and funding from the Government. The building houses a Consumer Advice Centre, exhibition and lecture hall, and is the venue of consumer education talks and workshops held regularly for teachers and students alike.
- In April 2002, the Council assisted the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in holding an Asian Regional Seminar on "Competition Policy and Multilateral Negotiations: the Post-Doha Mandate" in Hong Kong. The participants included delegates from 15 countries and 5 regions as well as representatives of international organizations.
- In mid-2002, a Bid-Rigging Guideline was drawn up for with guidance for taking suitable measures to prevent bid rigging.
- At the end of 2002, a report on "Competition in the Market for Lift Maintenance" was issued to promote competition in the trade concerned.
- Between 2002 and 2003, cases relating to debts and bankruptcy climbed sharply. The Council launched multiple studies on the various tactics finance companies used to promote consumer loan facilities, including: encourage borrowing with credit cards, provide overdraft and extending repayment periods, etc. The studies indicated that not a few of the promotional claims were less than accurate, snaring the unwary borrowers into deeper debts. The Association of Banks was recommended to review the Code of Practice for better governance of advertising by its members. Extensive consumer education including the publication in CHOICE of a number of special articles to advise consumers of the need for prudential financial management and debt settlement was put into action.
- Since the beginning of 2000, as the bank deposit interest rate remained at a low level, many consumers turned to other investment products for better returns. CHOICE began a series of articles on the topics of funds, shares, insurance and mandatory provident funds for the advice of consumers particularly the fees and charges, and also the sales tactics adopted to entice the elderly.
- During the period from March to June 2003 when Hong Kong was in the grip of SARS, consumers had little knowledge of products in the prevention of the disease. The Council conducted a number of research and tests on such items as surgical face masks, sanitation and sterilization products and others claiming to be effective against SARS, in an effort to provide useful information to the public in panic.
- The Education Bureau commissioned the Council to design and co-ordinate the production of consumer education teachers' training syllabus.
- In sequence to the 1994 report the Council released, in July 2003, the "Wet Markets vs Supermarkets: Competition in the Foods and Household Daily Necessities Retail Market Study Report". The report focused on the state of the trades between the present-day supermarkets and the wet markets in general, urging the authorities to be wary of the strong growth and competitive edge of the supermarkets, and to consider the adoption of measures to improve the trading environment of the wet markets. Government agencies concerned agreed on the need for improvement in the design and operation of wet markets in future.
- On 6 January 2004, the inaugural version of Online CHOICE made its debut, enabling consumers to access CHOICE information anytime and anywhere in or outside Hong Kong.
- In July 2004, the formation of the Beauty Trade Code of Practice Study Group came into being. The group’s convenor was a representative of the Council with a membership of 11 representatives from the trade.
- On 30 November 2004, in association with the ICRT (International Consumer Research and Testing), the first-ever ICRT Asian Region Conference and Training Workshop was held in Hong Kong.
- On 11 December 2004, the first Memorandum of Co-Operation was signed jointly by the Council and consumer protection associations from Beijing, Shanghai and Macau, to promote information exchange and consumer dispute resolution, further enhancing the confidence of Mainland visitors shopping in Hong Kong.
- In February 2005, Hong Kong’s first Top 10 Consumer News was launched by the Council in co-operation with i-Cable TV, RTHK and Hong Kong Economic Times. The results of the voting by the general public reflect the issues of most concern to the consumers providing useful reference to the Council as well as topics of consumer interest to media reporting.
- On 15 March 2005, the Council published the Good Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) Guidelines. The launch ceremony was attended by representatives of trade associations and professional bodies all pledging their support of CSR.
- In 2006, in co-operation with the Estate Agents Authority, produced the information booklet on the purchase of first-hand residential properties. Home buyers' attention is drawn to a number of crucial areas in the purchase; and developers are urged to make available for distribution at the sales office.
- The injection of PAAG for breast enlargement was causing serious pain in the case of some Hong Kong women requiring urgent medical attention. In 2006, the Council issued a severe warning against the use of PAAG with a study report published in CHOICE. This led to a ban by the authorities in the Mainland against PAAG injection.
- The Council's advocacy for a cross-sector competition law to safeguard the well-being of the free market gained wide public support as indicated in the Government consultation paper issued in June 2006.
- In March 2007, the Council's Chief Executive, Mrs. Pamela Chan, JP retired. She was succeeded by Ms. Connie Lau on 1 April of the same year.
- On 21 September 2007, the Council inaugurated a new dedicated website Shopsmart to cater to Mainland tourists, offering information of a range of goods and services of particular interest and concern to the visitors.
- The year 2008 saw rising Mainland tourists’ complaints against undesirable trade practices, the Council conducted a study on the legal and administrative measures in relation to trade practices in Hong Kong and elsewhere. A report “Fairness in the Marketplace for Consumers and Business” was prepared for submission to the Government. This led to the amendment of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance to cover services and prohibit on unfair trading practices.
- In June 2008, the Council succeeded in bidding for Hong Kong to be the venue for the 19th World Congress of the Consumers International (CI) to be held in 2011.
- In an effort to help consumers facing rising inflation, the Council initiated a total of 4 projects to monitor prices of foods and daily necessities as well as auto fuel: Weekly Price Surveys, Supermarket Price Watch, Daily Wet Market Price Reporting, and an interactive online price calculator for motorists to compute, with ease and speed, how much it costs to refill the fuel tank.
- In August 2008, the Council’s study on pork prices found no direct evidence of restrictive practices or abuse of market power in hindering the competitive environment of the live pigs trade. The study did find irregularity in what was observed to be over aggressive price bidding in live pigs auctions, which had the effect of raising the level of the highest bid price well above the average price.
- In 2008, the Lehman Brothers incident came to light; up to 10 June 2009, the Council received a total of 11,776 complaint cases, and 2,650 enquiries.
- In September 2008, the chemical melamine was found in infant formula in the Mainland prompting a buying frenzy of the baby products in Hong Kong.
- The Council put forward a standardized Saleable Area definition as well as views on the revision of the Agreement for Sale and Purchase and standardised price list template to reflect the necessary changes arising from the adoption of standardised definition of Saleable Area under the Consent Scheme. This was agreed upon by various parties concerned signifying an end to an issue after 23 years – the standardized definition came into effect on 10 October 2008.
- For the first time, in 2008, consumer complaints exceeded the 40,000 case threshold. The steep increase was attributed to the substantial rise in complaints in the investment sector of more than tenfold to 9,296 cases including 8,274 cases relating to the Lehman Brothers default.
- In February 2009, an online Auto Fuel Price Calculator was devised enabling consumers to conveniently compare prices of the 5 oil companies and choose the pump stations that most suit their individual requirements. In April, this service was extended to allow access on mobile phones benefitting even more motorists to the latest price comparison.
- In April 2009, the Consumer Legal Action Fund (of which the Council is the Trustee) was set to take up on behalf of aggrieved consumers its first case involving the Lehman Brothers against the finance companies concerned.
- In 2009, the Consumer Cultural Study Awards scheme entered its 10th Anniversary. In one decade, a total of 5,309 student teams from 284 schools had taken part in this consumer education project for school students.
- Since April 2009, staff were dispatched every two months to retail shops across the territory to collect the prices of 33 models of infant milk powder of 8 major brands available to consumers in the Hong Kong market. It was found that 24 of the models had their prices increased more than the inflation on food costs year on year; among them the average price increase of 5 models was up 10%. The situation regarding shortage of baby milk powder remained similar.
- In July 2009, in celebration of the Council's 35th Anniversary, a Symposium on “Promotion of Consumer Rights and Equity Culture” was organized with over 200 participants in attendance. On the same day was held a Round-Table Discussion Session on the topic of “The Way Forward for the Hong Kong Consumer Council: Wisdom from the Past, Insight for the Future”. From August to October was staged also a 35th Anniversary roving exhibition.
- In September 2009, the Wet Market Food Price Index was launched to monitor the price level of 26 food items in 44 wet markets throughout the 18 districts of Hong Kong. Price changes of 4 categories of foodstuffs, namely, meat, fish, vegetable and fruit were evaluated for the general information of the shoppers.
- The Council's Chief Executive was invited to be a speaker at the annual World Economic Forum on "Protecting Consumers in Global Economy" held in Dallian in the Mainland, in September 2009.
- Under the auspices of the UNCTAD, the Council received delegations from Bhutan, Botswana and South Africa to share experience of the Council's work in consumer protection and empowerment. In January 2010, on the invitation of UNCTAD, signed a Memorandum of Cooperation for personnel training and exchange program for one year. In March 2010, the Council's Chief Executive held a consumer rights seminar with the parliament members and government officials of Bhutan.
The Council entered into the 2010s with considerable fruitful progress particularly in the area of consumer protection legislation. Notably, the mandatory nutritional labelling on prepackaged food in 2010, the Competition Ordinance in 2012, the Trade Descriptions (Unfair Trade Practices) (Amendment) Ordinance 2012 and the Residential Properties (First-hand Sales) Ordinance were passed into law by the Legislative Council to strengthen legal protection of consumers. The ever-changing society has brought with it new issues of concern such as Internet shopping, the ageing population and consumer rights of the elderly, sustainable consumption…no doubt these will be our main focus of work in the years ahead.
- The Council teamed up with the Shantou University for a trial joint project of the Consumer Cultural Study Awards, for the first time in the Mainland. Close to 100 undergraduates of the University enrolled and were briefed on the issues previously studied in the Awards scheme, the concept and techniques and necessary training. The first prize presentation ceremony of the joint venture was held at the Shantou University in November 2010.
- The Awards scheme was also extended to cover the elderly with specially designed features for this age category. The first prize presentation of the awards to the elderly participants was held in July 2011.
- The Council welcomed and supported the Law Reform Commission's consultation paper on class actions. The Council strongly believed that class action would significantly enhance consumer protection and in particular when a large number of consumers were aggrieved by the same trader.
- In 2010 the Council was presented the World Customs Organization Certificate of Merit in recognition of its close cooperation with the Customs and Excise Department in consumer protection and law enforcement.
- A study report on "Building a Property Market Information Platform for Home Purchasers" was released with special emphasis on the prevailing high-pressured sales tactics and market chaos. A package of 9 proposals was put forward, to which the Government responded positively with the formation of a Steering Committee on the Regulation of First-Hand Residential Properties. Council members were also invited to give their views.
- In April 2010, following considerable public outcry and concern over the issue of illicit columbarium, the Council released its study report urging strongly consumers to conduct a practical 2-step verification process of the columbarium.
- In a study that collated the views of both physicians and biological scientists on storage and therapies related to umbilical cord blood and stem cells, the Council made the observation that such service might not be of much use in future as its therapeutic value was still subject to further clinical trials. Consumers are cautioned to give due consideration before purchase.
- In July 2010, the new nutritional labeling regulations came into effect, requiring all suitable prepackaged foods to be so labeled, and listing out in addition to the energy content 7 stipulated nutrients. In cooperation with the Centre for Food Safety, between March and July 2010, a series of studies were conducted and the reports published in CHOICE.
- In December 2010, a seminar on the proposed Competition Bill was organized specifically for the small and medium enterprises to enlist their views and any issues they might have. Over 120 representatives from various trades, commerce and industry were in attendance.
- For the second time, the Council collaborated with the Centre for Food Safety in a test on fried/baked snacks i.e. fried potato chips, biscuits and breakfast cereals to detect their content of acrylamide. In addition, the Council also put to test nail polish and found some of the samples to contain toxic chemical substances and carcinogens such as methanol and benzene.
- The Council's website won the 2010 Meritorious Websites Contest, and was linked to the Education City portal for easy access and reference of teachers.
- In 2011, over a 4-day period from May 3 - 6, the Council co-organized with the Consumers International (CI) and played host to the 19th CI World Congress, drawing a global assembly of over 700 delegates from 80 countries, the highest attendance in the history of CI World Congress.
In June 2011, in cooperation with the U.S. Dow Jones, the Council began to transmit the Council's press releases via its Factiva service to its 1.6 million users across the world.
- The Council submitted to the Government proposals to improve the Pyramid Schemes Prohibition Bill; the Ordinance was enacted in July 2011 and took effect on January 1, 2012.
- In February 2012, the Council named a beauty centre for persistently engaging in undesirable trade practices including untruthful advertising and high-pressure tactics in the sale of beauty therapy treatment.
- In February 2012, the number of items regularly monitored in the Council's online Supermarket Price Watch was increased to a total of 1,300 items.
- In April 2012, in view of the rising number of complaints involving unfairness in consumer contracts, the Council published the report "Unfair Terms in Standard Form Consumer Contract", proposing the adoption of fair terms in standard form consumer contracts and the implementation of a cooling-off period to safeguard consumer rights.
- In a test on soy bean drinks some products made claims of "organic" or "manufactured without the use of genetically modified (GM) soy beans". The test, however, detected the presence of trace amount of GM soy bean. The Government was urged to introduce a legislative regime for mandatory labeling of GM food. In a study on the labeling of milk powders suitable for bigger babies, the health claims of certain ingredients in some of these products were found to be exaggerated and misleading.
- In cooperation with the Hong Kong Lutheran Social Service, the Council's website was enhanced to enable the hearing-impaired consumers to access its Supermarket Price Watch and Auto Fuel Price Calculator through a 3G handset. Furthermore, the Council also carried out webpage enhancement to accommodate the needs of the visually-impaired consumers; the project was completed mid-2012.
- The long advocacy campaign since 1993 for a competition law was fruitfully concluded: in July 2012, the Competition Ordinance won the support of the Legislative Council and was passed into law representing a most significant milestone in ensuring a competitive market beneficial to the whole community of Hong Kong. Further, two more pieces of legislation, namely, the 2012 Trade Descriptions (Undesirable Practices) (Amendment) Ordinance and the First-hand Residential Properties Sales Ordinance were also passed in law by the Legislative Council on the same day.
- In October 2012, following an incident involving beauty therapy, the Council was actively involved in the work of the newly-established Steering Group in studying the beauty trade operation, and urged the Government to put into implementation effective oversight of the beauty treatment therapy.
- In order to promote Liberal Studies on competition law, the Council offered assistance to the Education Television of Radio Television Hong Kong in producing related resource materials for easy reference of students and teachers alike.
- The Council joined forces with the ICRT (International Consumer Research and Testing) in a test on travel suitcases and detected on the handles of 4 of the samples to contain PAHS in levels in excess of the stipulated safety standard posing potential cancer-causing risk.
- The Consumer Legal Action Fund (CLAF) scored a major victory in a case involving a group of home buyers of the property at One Beacon Hill. The CLAF-assisted consumers were claiming for damages for alleged delay in completion of the residential development. The litigation proceedings came to an end when the defendant developer offered full and final settlement of their claims plus interest. The unscrupulous conduct of the defendant were severely criticized by the Court, and attracted wide media coverage.
- The Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) was first introduced 11 years ago in Hong Kong. Commencing in November 2012, the implementation of the Employee Choice Arrangement (ECA) came into effect. In view of the public concern surrounding ECA, a special report was produced for publication in CHOICE. The report focused on the various choices on offer in many MPF schemes and the service level. It was so well received that additional print runs had to be ordered for the magazine to meet the demand.
- In November 2012, the Council's Chief Executive Ms Connie Lau, JP retired and was succeeded by Ms Gilly Wong.
- In May 2013, the Council announced a 3-year strategic work with 7 goals charting the course in a new direction forward. The concept of sustainable consumption will be an important area of work ahead. The Council will be active in the study and advocacy of setting up a mechanism for class actions. Other issues of priority included: prepayment transactions, corporate bankruptcy, online shopping, cooling-off period, and feasibility of arbitration in consumer dispute resolution.
- In July 2013, the amended Trade Descriptions Ordinance came into force. A massive publicity educational campaign was planned and launched to raise the public awareness of the protection afforded them under the new legislation and the ways and means. The drive included a special dedicated website for the new law, cartoons, short films and APIs (Announcements of Public Interest) on radio and TV, and roving exhibitions in shopping malls as well as special programmes in collaboration with RTHK.
- In July 2013, in a test on 55 models of honey, one quarter of the samples were found to be adulterated with sugar. Further, some bath toys were detected with excessive plasticizer contents, and some children's plastic shoes with PAHs. Excessive toxic heavy metal cadmium was found also in some samples of rice put to test.
- In August 2013, the Council's efforts in website enhancement for easy access of the underprivileged won the Gold Award of the 2013 Web Accessibility Recognition Scheme Awards - organized by the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Government Information Office.
- In December 2013, the Council published its latest study report on the grocery retail market in Hong Kong, calling on the newly-established Competition Commission to investigate into the “market power” of two of Hong Kong's largest supermarket chains to ascertain if they have been engaged in anti-competitive behavior detrimental to the economy and interests of consumers.
- In January 2014, the Council named a travel membership company for enticing consumers with false promises of free hotel accommodation.
- In the same month, the Council released its report on the availability and prices of infant formula products; the report noted in particular the severe shortage of individual milk powder products, and the practice of some drugstores in jacking up the prices.
- In April 2014, the Council and its counterpart in Macau organized a historic ever Cross-Strait Consumer Protection Symposium with delegates from 28 provinces in the Mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taipei.
- In April 2014, the Council was greatly honoured to have at its 40th Anniversary Celebration Cocktail Reception the presence of the HKSAR Chief Executive, Mr. C.Y. Leung, Bureau Secretaries and Government officials. Together with Members of the Executive Council and Legislative Council aid other dignitaries and community leaders, over 500 guests turned up for the celebration of the occasion.
- In July 2014, the Council named the first online company (Birth.hk) for malpractices in failing to deliver the goods in full or at all. Despite consumer complaints, the shop made no delivery or partial or full refund.
- In celebration of the Council's 40th Anniversary, the Council sponsored RTHK for a series of TV programmes, Metropolitan Consumer, based on the Council's research and testing as well as related legislations to explore the issues as they affect the daily life of the consumers. Broadcast of the episodes began in November 2014.
- In November 2014, the Council released its study report on the sales of first-hand residential properties. Special emphasis was placed on the impact and effect of the specific legislation enacted to regulate this sector, and a package of recommendations designed to improve the problems still confronting the home buyers, and some of the market distortions prevailing.
- In December 2014, the Council published its in depth study report on the energy market entitled “Searching for New Directions - a Study of the Hong Kong Electricity Market” recommending that any reform of the electricity market should be phased in gradually after thorough overall assessment of the situation - so as to meet the dual objective of enhanced environmental demands and the subsequent problem of price increase.