Online electronics retailer EasyTalk fined over TV sale

Electrical equipment seller EasyTalk has been convicted of five charges under the Product Eco-Responsibility Ordinance.

The company is the first of seven Hong Kong electronics retailers caught suspected of violating the Product Eco-Responsibility Ordinance (PERO), with the other six to face hearings this month and next.

EasyTalk Group Company was convicted and fined $6500 at Fanling Magistrates’ Courts yesterday on five charges of contravening PERO when selling a television set.

Under PERO, which came into effect last August, when distributing regulated electrical equipment, sellers must have a removal service plan (RSP) endorsed by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) and proactively inform consumers of the sellers’ obligation for the provision of a free statutory removal service as well as the relevant removal terms in writing.

Moreover, sellers must arrange a free removal service for consumers to dispose of the same type of waste equipment and provide a recycling label and a receipt containing the prescribed wording when distributing regulated electrical equipment.

A spokesman for the EPD said the organisation received a complaint last August about a customer purchasing a television set from EasyTalk Group through the instant-messaging application WhatsApp. Staff of the company claimed that the EPD would collect the used television set for recycling in several days. However, the customer was later requested to make the removal arrangements himself after the purchase.

During an investigation, EPD enforcement officers found that the seller not only did not arrange the statutory removal service for the complainant, but also did not have an RSP endorsed by the EPD and did not provide recycling labels as well as a receipt containing the prescribed wording according to the regulation.

The spokesman reminded all retailers – those with physical stores and those selling online or via apps – that they must not make false statements to consumers or offer them a removal service that is contravening the law, thus avoiding relevant liabilities and charging consumers for the removal service.

First-time offenders are liable to a maximum fine of between $5000 and $100,000. Upon a second or subsequent conviction, the fine increases to between $10,000 and $200,000.

Consumers have been urged to contact the EPD immediately if they find any seller not conforming to the PERO regulations.

“The EPD will take strict enforcement action against sellers who violate the PERO,” he said.

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