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Consumer protection in Hong Kong

Consumer watchdog slams Hong Kong furniture sellers for poor quality and after-sales service

Complaints against retail chains and local stores rose to 850 in 2017 from 822 in 2016

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 January, 2018, 5:37pm
UPDATED : Monday, 15 January, 2018, 10:44pm

Furniture buyers in Hong Kong should pay closer attention to receipts as problems over product quality and after-sales service persisted, the city’s consumer watchdog said on Monday.

The Consumer Council received 850 complaints about furniture last year, up from 822 in 2016. Over half of the complaints related to quality issues such as fallen wardrobe doors, bed frame cracks, and wrong colours and sizes.

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Another 146 complaints stemmed from delivery delays, and 20 were tied to safety concerns including a strong odour of formaldehyde, a toxic gas emitted from pressed wood and particle board.

“Consumers should pay close attention to receipts and product sketches when buying custom-made products,” council CEO Gilly Wong Fung-han said. “They should also check the products once they receive them and take photos if they find damage.”

Consumers should pay close attention to receipts and product sketches when buying custom-made products
Gilly Wong, Consumer Council

Many manufacturers of custom-made furniture only give hand-written receipts and label them with simple names such as “wardrobe” that could be problematic when conflicts arise, the council said.

Furniture buyers should insist on detailed receipts clearly stating the material, size, price, delivery date, and warranty period, Wong added.

Consumers have lodged complaints against both furniture retail chains and local stores, she said.

In one reported case, a customer spent HK$10,600 (US$1,350) on a furniture set combining a bed, wardrobe and bookcase. But the wardrobe’s sliding door fell off just days after delivery.

The consumer took photos and informed the furniture company. After one week, the firm asked her to first return the fallen door before they would replace it in two weeks, saying the problem was the installation technician’s fault and not its own.

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The Consumer Council was unable to contact the company after repeated attempts, and advised the consumer to seek compensation through court.

In a separate case, a dining chair bought by a customer was lopsided and toppled when the customer’s grandson sat on it. The child slipped and fell on his back but was uninjured. The council was still following up the case.