Letters to the Editor, May 24, 2016

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 May, 2016, 3:30pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 May, 2016, 3:34pm

Laws needed to regulate fitness centres

I refer to the article by Raymond Yeung (“The dark side of Hong Kong’s fitness industry”, May 22).

It is good for people to try and lead healthy lifestyles and many of us are becoming more aware of how important this is (especially office workers) and we go to yoga, boxing and dancing classes run by fitness centres.

There has been strong criticism of the alleged tactics of California Fitness and I think these gyms put personal fitness trainers under a lot of pressure. They resort to different kinds of methods to get customers to sign up for more classes and personal training sessions.

These problems have become more common in Hong Kong and ­action must be taken to deal with them.

The government should introduce legislation which outlaws ­certain practices by gyms and offer sufficient protection to customers. The regulations must be clear and enforceable.

It also needs to implement an advertising campaign to raise awareness so that people do not sign contracts that end up ­costing them a lot of money.

However, citizens also have to take responsibility for their own actions. They should ensure that the fitness centre they have chosen is right for them. They could visit a few gyms with friends and check them out.

There are clearly problems in this sector that need to be addressed.

Rachel Leung Cho-kwan, Sham Shui Po

Council just a toothless bureaucracy

I refer to the article, “The dark side of Hong Kong’s fitness ­industry” (May 22).

I was interested to learn that the Consumer Council appears to have been caught unprepared by the rise in the number of complaints against the fitness industry’s aggressive selling of gym memberships and packages.

I recall raising this issue with the council in early 2008.

Having been a member of Fitness First for three years, I was persuaded to buy 30 personal training sessions for HK$15,000. After a couple of sessions with the appointed trainer, I realised the relationship wasn’t going to work.

It was only when I asked for a refund for the unused sessions that I was told the course was non-refundable.

After extensive discussions, the branch ­manager verbally agreed to let me use the outstanding balance (HK$14,000) on Fitness First’s beauty products and services. When this ­offer was later withdrawn, I took my grievance to the Consumer Council, which issued a standard letter to ­Fitness First.

During the months that followed, I called the council several times to check on the progress but in spite of its assurance it would take action and notify me as soon as possible, I never heard from Fitness First or the council again.

I learned the expensive way that there is little or no protection for consumers; and the Consumer Council is a toothless, pencil-pushing bureaucracy that traders do not respect and feel at liberty to ignore with absolutely no impact on their businesses.

The council’s complaints registration letter sums up its position perfectly, when it says it “is not a law enforcement body. Your complaint is therefore handled on the basis of voluntary cooperation on the part of the trader concerned.”

In addition to introducing mandatory cooling-off periods, it is time for the government to adopt a joined-up approach to deliver proper protection to consumers instead of asking an impotent Consumer Council to rely on the Customs and Excise Department to prosecute offending traders.

Helen Cheung, Ho Man Tin

Not convinced drivers turning over new leaf

I refer to the report, “Hong Kong cabbies seek to revamp image with taxi-hailing app amid ­rising competition” (May 21).

Complaints against taxi drivers have been on the rise. Local passengers say they are no longer reliable and some ­tourists have complained about being overcharged, with drivers not taking them to their destination by the shortest direct route.

Some people are so frustrated with the service provided they will no longer hire taxis.

Drivers and taxi operators should be reflecting on this and asking themselves why so many citizens think this way.

Having a new app is not going to help if their behaviour does not improve.

If people continue to ­complain about substandard taxi services, this will create a ­vicious cycle and passenger numbers will keep falling.

Performance pledges are of little use unless taxis drivers and operators are sincere about changing their ways and make the effort to do so.

Wong Ho-ming, Tseung Kwan O

Food to fibre can reduce waste volumes

I refer to the report, “Food waste to clothes a miracle in making” (May 23).

This new technology could turn some food waste into a sustainable textile fibre.

Once it is fully developed, it could offer a possible solution to the problem of the city’s overflowing landfills.

I welcome the groundbreaking work that has been done by City University and Hong Kong Research Institute for Textiles Apparel, because it could help the environment globally and has so many advantages.

The technology being used is environmentally friendly and could help Hong Kong deal with some of its waste problem. About 9,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste ends up in our landfills every day and about 3,337 tonnes of that is food waste. Changing food waste into fibre and garment materials by polymerisation would reduce this huge volume. This is important as our landfills are near saturation point.

It would also help the ­garment sector if the fibre produced (after “further development”) is strong enough to produce yarn, which can be used by garment manufacturers.

This technology could provide sustainable resources, which benefit the garment ­industry.

It would create more business opportunities in Hong Kong and might change the ­garment sector.

I hope we will see more clothes being made here in a ­creative way, with natural dyes from food waste, such as onion skins, organic carrots or used coffee grounds.

This kind of ­creative way of making clothes is popular in some countries.

Production costs are quite low and if the garments are of good quality, the returns could be quite high.

If more manufacturers adopt this method to make clothes, it could become a characteristic of the Hong Kong ­garment industry and enhance its reputation abroad.

This is a low-resource method of dealing with Hong Kong’s food waste problem and it should be encouraged, especially if it helps to boost the garment sector in the city and ­create more business opportunities.

Rachel Hui, Yau Yat Chuen

Check rooftop gardens at schools in city

The roof collapse at City University on Friday has highlighted the issue of rooftop gardens in Hong Kong.

Some primary and secondary schools have rooftop gardens and there will be classrooms directly beneath them.

These gardens were encouraged by the government, which wanted to see the greening of schools.

The relevant government departments now need to undertake a thorough check of these gardens to ensure that they are safe.

The schools could also invite safety professionals to have a look.

These inspections should be carried out now. This would mean that if the gardens have to be removed or modified to make them safer, this work can be done during the summer holidays.

Liz Chan Wing, Tseung Kwan O