Hongkongers have embraced the new trade descriptions law, with shoppers keen to police traders and traders ready to change misleading practices, the customs chief said yesterday.
Next week the new rules will have been in force for two months and already there have been more than 3,000 inquiries and 668 complaints to the Customs and Excise Department, which is in charge of policing trading practices.
"In about 85 per cent of [inquiries], people gave very specific examples and asked whether a practice would be against the law," Commissioner of Customs and Excise Clement Cheung Wan-ching told a seminar organised by the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce.
The abundance of inquiries and complaints pointed to the fact that both consumers and traders were aware of the legal changes and were ready to adapt.
The amended Trade Descriptions Ordinance, which bans misleading sales practices for both goods and services, came into force on July 19.
In the first week, there were more than 800 inquiries, but the weekly figure has now tailed off to about 170. As for actual complaints, the number fluctuates from week to week, from a few dozen to the hundreds.
Cheung stressed that retailers should ensure the claims they made in promotions, such as "the most popular product in Hong Kong", were backed by evidence. He also commented on their rewording of price tags. Many used to put "original price" next to a "discounted price", now they put "recommended retail price" on top of the actual price.
This was legal, but Cheung called on retailers to explain to consumers what "recommended price" actually meant.