Consumer Council

Beware free check-ups and talks: Hong Kong consumer watchdog highlights sales tricks

Consumer Council urges people to consult doctors or medical professionals when they seek remedies for any health concerns

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 June, 2017, 5:17pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 June, 2017, 9:52pm

Free check-ups and health seminars are not as innocent as they look and could be bait to lure people into buying suspicious or ineffective health products , Hong Kong’s consumer watchdog warned on Thursday.

Consumers should be highly alert to any promotional information on health products featured in free check-ups or seminars held by health product companies, as well as examine carefully the ingredients and efficacy of those products before buying them, according to the Consumer Council.

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“Consumers are advised to consult doctors or medical professionals when they seek remedies for any health concerns,” council chief executive Gilly Wong said. “They should also be sceptical about health analysis or claimed product efficacy presented by sales representatives.”

Sales malpractices listed by the council also included providing exaggerated or misleading information on consumers’ health by unprofessional sales representatives.

In one complaint filed with the council, a consumer said she had been lured into having a free vascular-age test as part of a credit card promotion. She was then told by staff that clots were blocking up to 90 per cent of her blood flow, resulting in symptoms like dizziness and that she should purchase the company’s nutrition supplement.

Feeling shocked upon hearing the results, the consumer then spent HK$5,000 on six bottles of supplement capsules.

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However, after discussing the issue with a specialist and taking another test, the consumer found out her blood vessels were healthy. She therefore suspected the test results provided by the health product company were wrong and only a means to trick her into buying its products.

In another case, an elderly consumer told the council that he was given free gifts after attending a free health talk. He was then persuaded to pay HK$2,000 for capsules that the company sponsoring the talk claimed would relieve his pain and strengthen his brain cells.

The complaint’s son then found out the product contained only ingredients for boosting digestive health and had no effect on relieving his father’s pain.

People with chronic ailments, pregnant women and patients taking prescribed medicine should definitely consult doctors about the possible side effects before taking any health products, the watchdog advised.