Consumer Council and the Laundry Association launching jointly the "Code of Practice" for a Win-win Consumption Environment

23 July 2015
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Jointly launched by the Consumer Council and the Laundry Association of Hong Kong, the "Code of Practice" is the first of its kind for the Laundry Industry to commit on self-regulation to achieve enhanced service quality and better trade practices for the protection of consumer rights. 

Stipulated in great details, the Code is comprehensive in its scope of content. In addition to setting guidelines on professional conduct and service pledge for the employees, the Code also encourages self-discipline among operators. Through setting performance indicators and communication mechanism, consumers will be facilitated to understand clearly the services, products and prices, thereby minimizing disputes. 

The Code requires the operators to abide by laws and regulations strictly. A set of good trade practices was stipulated according to the "Trade Descriptions Ordinance", to dissuade front-line staff from concealing, misleading or deceiving consumers. Taking reference from the "Competition Ordinance", the Code also sets out guidelines to prohibit anti-competition behaviors, such as abuse of market dominance to distort market operations and stifle competition which will harm consumer rights. 

Besides, as a local industry, the laundry industry is also required, under the Code, to abide by the relevant environmental regulations and to provide services according to the best environmental practices. 
To provide consumers a faster and more convenient means to make enquiries and resolve complaints, an independent Complaint Review Committee will be established under the Code to handle complaints based on an established fair mechanism. The Committee is formed primarily by independent members to ensure impartiality and a faithful representation of consumer interests. Members of the Committee are appointed by the Laundry Association and endorsed by the Consumer Council. 

Former Legislative Councillor, Mr. Fred LI Wah-ming, was appointed as the first Chairman of the Review Committee. Mr. LI was a former member of the Consumer Council and is currently a co-opted member of the Trade Practices and Consumer Complaints Review Committee of the Council. Other members of the Review Committee including Legislative Councillors Hon CHAN Hang-pan, Dr Hon Elizabeth QUAT, and District Councillor Ms. PONG Oi-lan, Scarlett etc. 

In his opening speech, Professor WONG Yuk-shan, BBS, JP, Chairman of the Consumer Council said, "The Code has provided clear indicators for the industry to uphold business integrity. For the consumers, from service quality, information provision, sales and promotional practices, pricing and compensation etc., the Code will protect their interests comprehensively. It is the cornerstone of fair and win-win consumption environment." 

The Guest of Honour, Mr. Stephen SUI Wai-keung, JP, Under Secretary for Labour and Welfare, complimented operators of the laundry industry for their dedication to enhance service quality and to uphold fair trade practices. Mr Siu spoke of the industry's contributions and encouraged operators to assume corporate social responsibilities, like provision of employment opportunities for the physically disabled and support environmental protection, which were conducive to harmony, care and sustainability. 

The Council and the Laundry Association will review periodically content of the Code of Practice, the level of compliance among industry operators as well as effectiveness of the Complaints Review Committee. 

On a voluntary basis, members of the Laundry Association of Hong Kong are encouraged to subscribe to the Code. In the case of consumer complaints concerning violation of the Code of Practice, a member who subscribes to the Code will be subject to a formal review by the Review Committee. In cases of grave non-compliance to the adjudication of the Review Committee, the member may risk cancellation of its membership of the Association. 

The Association anticipated that at least 60% of its members will subscribe to the Code in three years' time after launch. Mr. Benson LI, Chairman of the Laundry Association stated in his speech that he hoped to see that the Code would foster a spirit of "self-discipline and self-regulation" among operators. He also hoped that the Code can provide a comprehensive and standardized guidelines to new entrants and existing players of the laundry industry alike. 

Last year, the Council received 260 complaints about laundry service most of which concerned service quality, delays and losses.