A driver using a gasoline discount card sold by an agent of ExxonMobil Hong Kong was shocked to find that the HK$1.40 discount per litre she’d been promised had shrunk to HK$0.30 per litre, Ming Pao Daily reported Monday.
The woman, surnamed Chan, signed up for a discount card offered by staff from Pioneer Dynamic Ltd. (PDL) while she was in the queue for a car park space about a year ago.
She was told the Esso fleet card could bring her a discount of HK$1.40 per litre.
Chan said PDL never mentioned it could alter the offer without prior notice.
She only found out recently when reading her monthly statement that the discount has shrunk by nearby 80 percent to HK$0.30 per litre.
Walk-in customers can get a discount of HK$0.90 per litre by signing up with the Smiles card at any Esso gas station.
An examination of the PDL contract shows it states that the firm can change the discount at any time without having to inform the card user.
Andrew Wan Siu-kin, a vice chairman of the Democratic Party and Kwai Tsing district councilor for Shek Yam constituency, is helping Chan with the case.
He said agents like PDL could be using questionable sales tactics.
Wan said he was a user of similar fleet cards but has stopped using them, as he felt he was cheated by the smaller-than-expected discounts.
PDL said there are procedures in place to assess the credit and usage of customers to determine if the discount for a customer should be increased, decreased or unchanged.
The firm said there is not enough time to go through the terms and conditions of the offer at the sales stage, but it said the detailed terms and conditions are always enclosed in the mail when the fleet card is sent to the customer.
PDL stressed that it has a mechanism for customers to return their fleet cards.
Legislative councilor Ronny Tong Ka-wah said that whether the sales methods of PDL involve misleading omissions under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance depends on how the sales are conducted.
Tong said the fact that PDL customers have no idea what discount they are getting until they receive a statement at the end of month may not represent a violation of the law as long as the customer accepted the procedures.
However, Tong stressed that it is very important that merchants make their sales transparent.
The Consumer Council said customers should understand all the terms of a contract before putting pen to paper and should retain all receipts and contracts in case of any dispute.
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