HONG KONG: A ParknShop in Wong Tai Sin was fined HK$4,000 on Friday for overcharging two Customs officers HK$24 for two cans of nuts.
The pair were asked to pay HK$29.9 for a can of Koh Kae spicy peanuts at the checkout of the store at Hong Tung House on October 17 two years ago, when in fact the peanuts were priced at HK$17.9 on the shelves, Kowloon City Court heard.
The officers returned later the same day to buy another can and were again charged HK$12 extra.
ParknShop (HK) Limited pleaded guilty to one count of supplying false trade descriptions, contrary to the Trade Descriptions Ordinance.
ParknShop is owned by Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, through his Hutchison Whampoa company.
In mitigation, the company’s lawyer said the overcharging stemmed from a computer glitch and a lack of coordination among the 13 employees in the store.
There was a refund policy, the lawyer added, for customers charged too much. However, this would not work in this case as it was an undercover mission by the Customs and Excise Department, she said.
Magistrate So Wai-tak said “objectively speaking”, although HK$24 did not appear to be a large sum, it could still be a significant amount for some members of the public. He urged the company to step up scrutiny.
The Customs and Excise Department originally also brought two more summonses against shop manager Lam Wai-lun, and two more against the shop over eight other cans of the same snack on the shelves.
But Lam was awarded legal costs of HK$30,000 after the department decided not to pursue the case as Lam had never been the provider of the products in question and had merely managed the shop.
The department did not pursue the other summonses because the eight cans had not been through the checkout.