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Consumer Council

Hong Kong watchdog issues warning about repair and maintenance services

Consumer Council notes 15 per cent rise in complains about such services and tells consumers to be wary of internet offers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 February, 2017, 8:14pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 February, 2017, 8:14pm

Complaints against repair and maintenance services rose 15 per cent last year, Hong Kong’s consumer watchdog announced on Wednesday. It called for caution as consumers increasingly take to the internet to find repair services.

The Consumer Council received 2,383 such complaints last year, up from 2,069 in 2015. They accounted for about 10 per cent of all complaints received by the council last year.

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“If the company has made any promises, make sure they are all written on the receipt. Don’t just depend on a verbal promise. If it’s just verbal, it will be very difficult to argue [that the promises were made],” council chief executive Gilly Wong Fung-han said on Wednesday.

In one case, a complainant sought help from a company over his clogged toilet. He found from the company’s website that it would not charge any fee if the repair was unsuccessful.

A worker came to his flat and fixed the toilet. The man paid the worker HK$3,000. But a few days later, the toilet became clogged again. The man phoned the company and asked for a free follow-up, as promised on the company’s website.

An employee who answered the call said the worker who carried out the repair work could not be contacted. More than a week after the initial work was carried out, the complainant was told he needed to pay extra for additional repair work. The complainant was told free extra work would only be offered if problems arose within a week of the first repair.

In another part of the report, the council tested 10 robot vacuum cleaners priced between HK$1,599 and HK$8,499 in collaboration with the organisation, International Consumer Research and Testing. With the maximum performance score being five points, seven models scored just 2.5 points or lower.

The council said that most models performed “relatively poorly” in removing dust along wall edges and in corners.

Panasonic’s MC-RS1A robot vacuum cleaner, costing HK$7,980, scored just two points in the council’s test. In a reply to the watchdog, the commercial agent for Panasonic said the model in question was specially designed to remove dust in corners and at the edge of walls.

The agent said it was unfair that dust was placed at the centre of the test area when the council carried out its test.