Shop rip-off reflects badly on Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 May, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 May, 2000, 12:00am

I would like to share with readers an unpleasant incident which I experienced on my last trip to Hong Kong in April. As I am a household appliances importer in Argentina, I make frequent business trips to the SAR. On my last trip, I decided to buy a digital camera and checked prices in video stores around Nathan Road. Eventually, I chose a Sony model at a shop in Haiphong Road. The price was $2,800. Once the deal was completed and I signed a credit card slip, I was invited upstairs to see how the camera worked. Then I was shown another camera, a Panasonic, which was clearly a superior model, but cost a lot more - $9,625. I had not checked the price for the Panasonic at other shops, but agreed to buy it.

After I had left the shop I saw the same camera priced at $5,515. I returned to the store, but the dealer refused to take it back.

The next day, thanks to the intervention of one of my suppliers, the store agreed to give me $2,000 credit and I got a lens and an extra battery, but I doubt if the value of these items was close to $2,000. I was deeply hurt by what happened. I was told that this is a common practice in Hong Kong. Is there nothing the authorities can do? Let me offer a few ideas: Tourists should be alerted about such practices on their arrival at the airport, by being given a leaflet, warning them that such things can happen.

Stores should be obliged to display their prices clearly on shelves.

The Government should make it mandatory for stores to take back goods within three days of the purchase date.

It takes a lot of hard work and time to build up a trusting relationship and only a matter of minutes to destroy it.

RICARDO FRIDMAN Buenos Aires, Argentina