Mission and Functions
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.
- 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.
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.
- Commencement: 15th July, 1977.
To incorporate the Consumer Council, to define its functions and powers, to negate personal liability of members and employees for the Council's or its committees' acts or omissions, and for the connected purposes.
(i) Forestalling and Mediating Consumer Disputes
The Council offers an easily-accessible convenient service to consumers in pre-shopping advice and post-shopping complaints. In the latter, the Council will act as a mediator in an effort to bring settlement, by means of conciliation, to the dispute between the consumer and the trader.
- In 2014/15, the Council received a total of 29,457 complaints with a successful conciliation rate of 73.26%.
- Should traders refuse to co-operate in resolving justifiable complaint cases, consumers may seek redress at the Small Claims Tribunal and the Council will, where appropriate, tender advice to assist consumers.
For dishonest traders who do not take the Council's advice and continually indulge in malpractices despite warnings, the Council may consider publicity sanction by naming them through press conference to the mass media.
The Council collaborates closely with the Hong Kong Police and the Customs & Excise Department in launching campaigns against trade malpractices to detrimental to the consumer interests.
(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.
- Research and Test Reports: During the year (2014/15), 60 product research and test reports were published in CHOICE magazine. When products were found to fall short of full compliance with mandatory or international standards, the Council notified the relevant government regulatory bodies for immediate follow-up action, while also making recommendations to the manufacturers and their agents for related product improvement.
- 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.)
There are three different types of product testing:
|Category||Tests initiated and solely conducted with the Council’s own resources.||Joint test conducted by the International Consumer Research and Testing (ICRT).||Tests conducted in cooperation with various local government/statutory organizations or overseas consumer associations.|
(iii) Collecting Market Information on Services and Goods
Consumers need forever more information on a wide range of services. To this end, the Council conducts opinion surveys, market surveys and price surveys such as MPF schemes, infant formula price survey, and annual supermarket price survey to collect information on services for the benefit of consumers.
(iv) Promoting Sustainable Consumption
The World Commission on Environment and Development has defined sustainable development in its 1987 publication "Our Common Future" as: "Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
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
The Council undertakes research and study on an array of marketplace behaviors to identify issues of concern to consumers, to analyze their impact on consumer interests, and to encourage responsible trade practices and fair competition, thereby benefiting consumer welfare - with lower prices, more choices and higher quality of products and service to bring desired effects of consumer satisfaction.
Encouraging Responsible Trade Practices: The Council worked closely with various industries in promoting Codes of Practice to enhance service quality, for instance, collaboration with Laundry Association to establish the research group in July 2013 to study and formulate an industry code of practice. After more than a year, the group drew up the Code of Practice of Laundry Association. After consultation with stakeholders, an inauguration ceremony was held in July 2015 to launch the Code.
Responding to Consultations: The Council responds to consultation conducted by government or other public bodies on consumer-related issues, for examples, Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, Residential Properties (First-hand Sales) and Trade Descriptions (Unfair Trade Practices).
(vi) Disseminating Consumer Information
Through various ways to disseminate consumer information, the Council seeks to help consumers exercise rational choices, enhance their abilities in self-protection during consumption as well as awareness of their rights and responsibilities.
- CHOICE: The magazine provides a regular outlet of information, advice and viewpoints on all matters affecting consumer interests. A press conference is held to launch the publication of each and every issue of CHOICE, drawing wide coverage and publicity in all sectors of the media.
- CHOICE Online: Readers can access and view our full PDF version of CHOICE anywhere, anytime. Simplified Chinese version is provided also to readers in need.
- Council's website: Information posted on the website includes information on our structure and services, the latest consumption graphics, videos and articles, research reports, submissions to the Government and the Legislative Council, press releases, media centre, CHOICE index ,subscription forms and consumer complaints forms, etc.
- Shopsmart Website: the website 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 and the 315 World Consumer Rights Day commemorative activities to encourage public participation and media attention to consumer rights.
- Media liaison: The Council works in close liaison with the media covering a multitude of different consumer issues through regular press conferences, news releases, interviews, etc.
(vii) Empowering Consumers through Education
Education programmes, talks, exhibitions, training and workshops are periodically organized for various strata of the society, including young people, senior citizens and new immigrants, to provide more opportunities for learning consumers’ culture and rights, and enhancing their abilities to help themselves.
- Consumer Council Resource Centre:
Located in Tsim Sha Tsui, 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.
- Enhancing Youth Awareness in Consumer Rights:
Consumer Culture Study Award is an annual event jointly organized with the Education Bureau for local secondary schools. Participants are to study a particular aspect of our local consumer culture, exploring consumer behaviors, attitudes and values in Hong Kong. In 2014/15, a total of 104 schools with more than 1,121 teams participated in the event.
- Education Programmes for the Vulnerable Groups:
Regular talks are held for the new immigrants from the Mainland to familarise themselves with local consumer protection measures.
- Training the Trainers:
Through 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.
(viii) Representing the Consumer Voice and Networking
We maintain close liaison with the Government through the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, which oversees consumer protection and competition policy. Council's representatives serve on 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 is maintained through exchange of information, referral of complaints, receiving their delegations or providing training to their staff.
- 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.
(ix) Improving Legal Protection for Consumers
Consumer rights should be protected by law. The Council keeps abreast of legal developments that may affect the consumers in the purchase and use of goods and services. We took the initiative to improve and protect consumers' legal rights by submitting our views in that regard to the Government and relevant bodies.
In 1962, John F. Kennedy, the U.S. President first introduced four fundamental consumers’ rights: the right to safety, be informed, choose and heard. It has since transformed into eight consumer rights.
In recent years, the Council expressed views and made recommendations in areas such as unfair trade practices in the market, regulation 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, a further sum of $10 million was granted by the Government to the Fund in May 2010. The Fund aims to give easier consumer access to legal remedies by providing financial support and legal assistance for the benefit of consumers, particularly, groups with similar grievances in cases involving significant public interest and injustice.
From 11/1994 to 3/2014:
|Number of applications considered||1,283|
|Problem solved during application||170|
The Council pledges to fulfill its statutory functions as stipulated in the Consumer Council Ordinance. Within these ambits, we will strive our best to:
- answer consumer enquiries and handle complaints in a timely manner
- mediate dispute between consumers and service suppliers
- conduct researches, surveys and product testing to produce and publish useful information and results
- provide a regular outlet of information, advice and view points on all matters affecting interests of consumers
- monitor trade practices and liaise with industry body to safeguard consumer interests,
- research on consumer policy and launch consumer education campaign or related activities
We pledge to provide an efficient, courteous and professional service to the public in respect of the following areas:
|Target Response Time|
|By telephone||Mostly in 3 minutes|
|In person||10 minutes|
|In writing (from the date of receipt)||15 working days|
|Target Response Time|
|Issue an acknowledgement /interim reply after receipt of complaint||5 working days|
|Notify progress / result (from the date of interim reply)||9 working days|
Remarks:The progress of the conciliation depends on the willingness of merchants and complainants in resolving the disputes.Processing time is also affected by the complexity of cases and the amount of complaints received at that time. Normally, the processing time commences from the date when the complainant gives all relevant information and documents to the Council.
|Target Response Time|
|Request for subscription of CHOICE||As stipulated in the subscription form *|
|Request for sale of CHOICE||Within 10 minutes (if in person)
Within 2 working days (by mail order) **
|Target Response Time|
|Request for group visits||Within 10 working days|
|Request for talks||Within 10 working days|
|Request for organizing consumer education activities from community group||Within 10 working days|
* CHOICE is published on or around the 15th of each month. If the subscription form together with appropriate payment is received on or before the 9th of the month, the subscriber will receive his/her first issue of CHOICE of that month. Subscription requests received on the 10th or after will receive the first issue of CHOICE of the following month.
** upon receipt of mail order and after confirmation of receipt of payment (cheque / PPS / credit card)
(vi) Assistance by Consumer Legal Action Fund (CLAF)
We shall acknowledge receipt of an application within 7 working days after the receipt of the application by the Fund and process the application as soon as practicable.
We shall report on the major progress and the outcome of their cases to the assisted consumers as soon as practicable.