Travel council to reconsider the refund policy on electronic goods

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 April, 2007, 12:00am

The Travel Industry Council is considering possible exceptions to its new six-month refund policy for electronic goods like mobile phones and digital cameras that are returned after being used, a source familiar with the discussions said.

The move favours shops and is seen as a compromise to make the more stringent refund policy easier sell to retailers doing tour group business.

Shops complain the new 180-day refund period is drastic and unfair given that the shelf life of many of these popular gadgets can be very short. Shops might only be required to offer partial or conditional refunds if the merchandise has been used before it is returned, the source said.

'Obviously, if you buy a mobile phone, you're going to try it out after you buy it. We just need to figure out how the refund policy will work in these cases,' the source said.

The extended refund period might also need to be reconciled with that of many brand name shops, which is usually seven days, the source said.

The new refund policy comes into effect on June 1 and only applies to shops that are registered with the council to sell to tour groups. So far, 57 shops have signed up with the council. Currently, these shops only have to honour full refunds up to 14 days after the date of purchase.

The extended refund period is intended as a deterrent to shops that previously fleeced mainland tour groups with overpriced or fake merchandise. Many tourists only realise they have been conned after going home to the mainland when they are unable to return to Hong Kong within 14 days.

The refund issue is a sticky one and is likely to dominate discussions by the council's committee on shopping-related practices, which is tasked with hammering out the new terms of the refund agreement with shops. Committee members started discussions on Friday and will meet over the next five weeks to make the June 1 deadline. The committee next meets on Friday and possibly again on Saturday.

'Some members have said they think the six-month refund period is too long but this has already been decided by the council so we can't go back and change it,' the source said.

The council is expected to keep a close eye on retailers during the Labour Day 'golden week'.