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Hong Kong Customs investigates suspected case of unfair trade practices in sale of interior design and renovation services

Hong Kong Customs investigates suspected case of unfair trade practices in sale of interior design and renovation services

HONG KONG: The Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) earlier received a complaint against a company suspected of engaging in unfair trade practices in the sale of interior design and renovation services, in contravention of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO).

After follow-up investigation, the C&ED arrested two men and a woman, aged 46 and 47, in the past two weeks. The case is still under investigation and the arrested persons have been put on bail.

According to preliminary investigation, the company concerned was suspected to have offered a set of quotations, which were unclear and misleading, at a very competitive price of some $170,000, leading the complainant to hire their services. After the renovation work commenced, a further eight quotations, amounting to some $610,000, were sent to the complainant.

Under the TDO, a trader 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 imprisonment for five years.

The Divisional Commander of the Unfair Trade Practice Investigation Division 1, Mr Lai Ka-lok, today reminded people in the trade to abide by the law and provide material information in a comprehensive, clear, intelligible and timely manner in selling interior design and renovation services. Consumers are advised to be prudent in selecting the services, and should seek professional advice when in doubt over additional costs charged.

Members of the public may report cases suspected to be in violation of the TDO to the C&ED by calling the 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.