Angry shoppers insist on rights
Travel agents, pet shops, funeral homes and Chinese medicine stores attracted a rash of shoppers' grievances last year as tough economic times fuelled growing intolerance of cheats.
Consumer Council chief Professor Andrew Chan said a series of marketing campaigns and shoppers' growing awareness of their rights had raised expectations and increased the number of disappointed customers.
Almost 16,500 complaints were made last year, about everything from private detectives and petrol to laundries and musical instruments.
Professor Chan said a 76 per cent rise in complaints against further-education centres was due partly to more workers retraining or trying to make themselves more employable in the competitive jobs market.
Travellers made 42 per cent more complaints last year than in 1998, many of them in the lead-up to the Lunar New Year when several agents cancelled tours at the last minute.
Shops selling dried seafood and Chinese herbal medicine drew 393 complaints, up 15 per cent, but the flow of grievances has slowed since a council campaign to reveal unscrupulous dealers.
While 1998 saw a higher number of complaints, Professor Chan said the closure that year of video chain KPS and cake shops in the Maria's Bakery group artificially inflated the figure, and there had been a steady increase since.
Bad experiences with funeral homes, pet shops, hairdressers and restaurants were behind many of the other complaints received by the council last year.