Verbal warnings against salespeople offering internet, phone and credit card services on the street have shot up eight-fold in two years, the government revealed yesterday. But of the 1,202 public complaints, just 17 people were summonsed to court last year, compared to 20,715 unlicensed hawkers who were prosecuted. Last year police and other government departments issued 3,948 verbal warnings to salespeople who block pavements and exits to MTR and KCR stations. There were 495 issued in 2002. Legislator 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung wants the promotion sellers to be treated the same as hawkers, as he says they cause as much of a nuisance to pedestrians. 'There is a lot of inequality. There are a lot of hawkers who are arrested by the police and authorities,' he said. 'They should be treated the same as hawkers. In my constituency, there are elderly pensioners who want to make a few pennies as hawkers and make homemade food and sell it and they are harassed and arrested.' Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food York Chow Yat-ngok, replying to Mr Leung's question in the Legislative Council, said: 'Most of these [promotional] pitches are set up at locations with high pedestrian traffic, such as access points to MTR and KCR stations, bus terminals, pedestrian links near markets or shopping malls and major walkways or pedestrian precincts in busy locales.' The government admitted the issue was a 'street management problem' that was usually dealt with by issuing a verbal warning to move on. A Food and Environmental Hygiene Department spokesman said that because it was an offence to operate a hawker stall without a licence, unlicensed hawkers were prosecuted; while street promoters could only be prosecuted if they caused an obstruction and ignored verbal warnings. Legislator Fred Li Wah-ming called on the government last night to introduce black spots for these salespeople to keep busy pedestrian areas free of their pitches. 'I think they should prioritise certain black spots. It is a paradox: the busier the area, the more companies will put their booths and promotions there,' he said. Telecommunications companies, such as Hutchison Global Communications, whose staff offer its mobile phone services on the street, said yesterday that it had stringent guidelines on sales. A clause of the guideline states that the sales activities should not cause any public nuisance. Asked if PCCW had an in-house policy covering its street salespeople, a spokesman declined to comment.