As many Chinese buy new clothes and shoes to welcome the Lunar New Year, Hong Kong’s Consumer Council has sounded a warning about temporary shops that are likely to take the public for a ride.
According to the consumer watchdog, it received last year 98 complaints relating to sports shoe purchases, up from 61 in the previous year. Of those, 14 complaints pertained to “shops without a brand name”, up from only 2 such cases in 2013 and representing a six-fold jump, it said.
Most of the “brand-less” shops operated on short-term leases. They almost never put out a name on the shopfront, and the merchandise they sell is usually of a wide variety, the Consumer Council pointed out, according to am730.
In one case that came to the consumer watchdog, a woman bearing the surname Chan bought a pair of sports shoes for HK$2,560 in cash last February from one of the “brand-less” shops, before discovering later that she may have purchased counterfeits.
She uncovered the truth after the brand’s official store confirmed to her that the company does not manufacture shoes in the color which Chan had purchased.
Another complainant, a woman surnamed Wong, bought a pair of women’s sports shoes for HK$850 at a Mong Kok store and was promised that the item would be available for pick-up in three weeks. After waiting for many days and finding that the telephone numbers were unreachable, the woman went to the shop personally to enquire about her shoes.
She was then told by the shop staff that the shoes she bought were still unavailable, and suggested that she pay another HK$50 to change to another model with a guarantee that the goods will be available in 14 days. Again, the shop failed to keep the promise. Three months later, Wong found that the shop had totally vanished.
Gilly Wong, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council, said both the complainants in the above-mentioned cases failed to receive compensation in any form, which is proof that there are huge risks involved in shopping in such retail outlets.
Wong said one cannot be certain if goods sold in such shops are genuine or fake, or whether they constitute parallel-trade items. She urged consumers to be vigilant as any civil claims could be difficult to pursue as the invoices given by the shops offer very little assurance for protection of shoppers’ rights.
Most of the so-called brand-less shops are said to be in Causeway Bay and Mong Kok. Consumers should beware of any outlet that does not bear a name and signage displayed prominently.
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