Another Hong Kong ginseng store scam foiled

Customs officers have arrested a 40-year-old salesman at a Hong Kong ginseng store suspected of scamming customers by misrepresenting the price of sliced products.

It’s the second such arrest this month in an ongoing clampdown on overcharging and bullying.

A week ago, Hong Kong Customs arrested a Mong Kok ginseng retailer caught pulling exactly the same scam.

On Tuesday, a Customs officer disguised as customer and conducted a test-buy at a ginseng and dried seafood shop in Tsim Sha Tsui. A salesman was suspected to have misled him to purchase one catty of dried American ginseng believing that the price was $440 per catty. After the American ginseng was sliced, the salesman demanded $7040 and revealed that the goods were priced at $440 per tael. The amount charged was 16 times more than expected. An investigation is ongoing and the arrested person has been released on bail.

Under the Trade Descriptions ordinance (TDO), a retailer “who engages in relation to a consumer in a commercial practice that omits or hides material information or provides material information in a manner that is unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely, and as a result causes, or is likely to cause, an average consumer to make a transactional decision that the consumer would not have made otherwise”, commits an offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and five years imprisonment.

Customs has used the arrest to reminded retailers to abide by the law and advise consumers to purchase products from reputable shops.

“Consumers should also be cautious about the unit price, and ask for more information including the total price of the goods before making a purchase decision,”a spokesman said.

Customs says it will closely monitor suspected violations of the TDO and continue to crack down on unscrupulous traders for the protection of consumer rights.


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