Retailers to face more scrutiny

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 April, 2007, 12:00am

Retailers catering to tourists are likely to come under greater scrutiny with measures aimed at ensuring their merchandise is genuine, the government said.

Maisie Cheng Mei-sze, deputy commissioner for tourism, yesterday said the Consumer Council was speeding up its review of legislation on misleading and undesirable sales practices to improve and strengthen enforcement measures.

Plans are under way to set up a demerit system to penalise shops that do not include detailed descriptions of products in customer receipts. The travel trade watchdog needs to endorse the measure.

However, Tourism Board chairman James Tien Pei-chun said he was unsure whether tougher laws requiring more detailed product descriptions would, in itself, boost consumer protection.

Consumer Council chief executive Connie Lau Ying-hing said it was liaising with mainland consumer groups in Beijing to better educate visitors about shopping in Hong Kong.

The Travel Industry Council introduced a 14-day guaranteed refund scheme in February 2002. Travel agents wishing to take tourists shopping must register stores they plan to visit with the council. These shops must comply with the refund.

Breaches are handled under a demerit system launched in April 2005. Once a shop has accumulated 30 demerits, the council can either suspend or revoke its registration, meaning tour groups cannot visit.

Michael Wu Siu-ieng, who is an executive committee member of the Association of Travel Agents, said he was not familiar with Majestic Watch that allegedly sold a fake diamond watch, but he had taken some mainland tour groups to Expo Global two or three years ago. He stopped after a few months because of poor service. Expo Global sold a diamond pendant that was determined to be fake after tests on the mainland.

'It's really a sightseeing stop for tourists because of the solid gold toilet,' he said of Expo Global, which is popular because of a gold bathroom.

Paul Lau On-shek, honorary secretary of the Diamond Federation of Hong Kong, China, said there were laws on description of goods sold and consumers had legal recourse.