Scam warning after wedding photo complaints soar

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 April, 2012, 12:00am


The number of complaints about wedding photography services increased by nearly 50 per cent last year, prompting the consumer watchdog to warn couples to watch out for scams.

The Consumer Council received 82 complaints about photography last year, 27 more than in 2010. The council announced the findings at a briefing that also covered complaints about credit card renewals and faulty food labelling.

The council received 36 complaints about wedding photos in the first three months of this year - nine more than in the first quarter of 2011.

Most were about extra charges, late delivery of photos, bad quality and failure to provide services. Complaints about late delivery rose from just one in 2010 to 12 last year.

The council warned couples preparing to be married to be extra careful with packages provided by photography services. They should also avoid verbal agreements and ask for a written one, checking the price of each item carefully.

'We would encourage couples to pick companies with good recommendations, and to always pay deposits and not the full fee,' the vice-chairman of the council's publicity and community relations committee, Philip Leung Kwong-hon, said yesterday.

The council also called on credit card issuers not to upgrade customers' cards without asking them first after receiving complaints against automatic upgrades - 17 in 2010 and 10 last year.

Most who complained were unhappy about 'opt-out' notices - which meant their cards were automatically upgraded unless they indicated otherwise.

The council surveyed 20 credit card-issuing institutions and received responses from 15, of which 14 said a verbal or written consent from the customer would be needed before a card could be upgraded.

One issuer, the Shanghai Commercial Bank, has an 'opt-out' policy, and stated that unless the customer responded within 14 days, the card would be upgraded.

The council suggested credit card issuers instead use an 'opt-in' model - where customers must choose the upgrade themselves.

A spokeswoman for the Hong Kong Monetary Authority said the Code of Banking Practice already requires customer consent to be sought for new or enhanced services.