Greater protection urged for consumers on services

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 July, 2010, 12:00am

Proposals set out last week to step up consumer protection do not go far enough, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong said yesterday as about 20 of its members marched to government headquarters.

The protesters said more protection should be offered to consumers who are coerced into pre-paying a large sum of money for services.

The government had proposed a one-week 'cooling-off period' for sales of memberships in travel schemes and transactions made during unsolicited visits to homes and offices, which would allow consumers to cancel contracts and get refunds on prepaid packages with no strings attached within seven days.

The DAB said the cooling-off period should be extended to all service industries taking pre-payments.

Unscrupulous sales practices in the property sector should also be outlawed, said lawmaker Starry Lee Wai-king.

Deals and contracts made over the phone or in the streets should be confirmed on paper and signed by the consumer within a specified period of time, she said.

The government began a public consultation last week on stepping up consumer protection, a move prompted by a rising number of complaints about sales practices, especially in yoga and fitness centres.

Among the measures put forward by the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau was a proposal that the existing trade descriptions law be extended to cover services.