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Crime in Hong Kong

Customers ‘locked in room with loud music and pressured for two to five hours’ to buy South Korean resort packages

Local agent, 20, arrested after consumer watchdog receives 48 complaints involving HK$2.7 million total

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 October, 2017, 8:21pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 October, 2017, 11:40pm

A director of a company acting as a Hong Kong agent for a South Korean resort was arrested by customs on Thursday, following complaints about misleading and high-pressure sales tactics.

In September, the consumer watchdog received 48 complaints against Great Time Universal (HK) – which claimed to be the authorised agent of Vistacay Vacation Club in South Korea – involving a total of HK$2.7 million.

At least two victims lost about HK$160,000 each to the agent based in Tsim Sha Tsui, a customs spokesman said, adding that he would not rule out further arrests. The director, 20, who has not been named, was arrested on suspicion of misleading sales tactics and breaching the trade description ordinance.

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According to the Consumer Council, the marketing agent would first make repeat cold calls to people telling them they could collect a free five-day holiday package from the office.

Those who went were then told they could only qualify for the package if they signed up as a member of a South Korean resort by paying a fee of between HK$50,000 and HK$100,000.

Members of staff would take turns to pressure buyers for two to five hours – in some cases beyond midnight – to sign the contract and pay the membership fee. The customers were then forced to wait in a room filled with loud music, after their identity cards and credit cards were taken away for processing. They were also made to switch off their phones.

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

Complainants reported that after paying for the membership, they did not receive the promised holiday packages. In most cases, they were told by the agent that the resort was overbooked, and if they wanted to enjoy the packages soon, they would need to further upgrade their membership schemes.

“We have taken action to make the arrest after an investigation,” said the customs spokesman, adding that they received 36 complaints against the company that has been operating for about two years.

Great Time Universal (HK) could not be reached for comment.