27 October 2016
Most of the complaints lodged by mainland shoppers in Hong Kong are related to pharmacies. Photo: CNSA
Most of the complaints lodged by mainland shoppers in Hong Kong are related to pharmacies. Photo: CNSA

Mainlanders form online group to highlight HK shopping traps

Some mainlanders have formed a QQ messenger group to discuss issues related to Chinese shoppers in Hong Kong and safeguarding their interests and legal rights.

The group, which currently has 135 members, says mainland visitors often get cheated in Hong Kong, especially in pharmacies.

The members claim that all of them had personal experiences of being ripped off during Hong Kong trips, and that they were unable to get their grievances redressed.

Regulatory authorities and consumer protection agencies in Hong Kong are failing to safeguard the interests of mainland visitors, the online community says. 

A Shenzhen resident, a person surnamed Cao, narrated the bad experience he had at a Hong Kong pharmacy recently, am730 reported.

The visitor said he purchased ginseng at a pharmacy in Tsim Sha Tsui on Sept. 14. When he inquired with the sales clerk if it is sold at HK$680 per 50 grams, the clerk didn’t give a clear answer.

We do not how know what quantity Cao actually wanted, but he was asked to pay over HK$50,000 through a bank card.

Meanwhile, another clerk quickly ground the ginseng into powder, and the salespersons suggested that Cao has no choice but to pay.

He was presented with the card transaction slip, which made Cao aghast at the huge bill. He refused to sign off on the sales slip, resulting in a fierce quarrel.

After being badgered by the store clerks, Cao finally agreed to pay HK$14,500 as he just wanted to get away from the scene, the report said.

Cao then filed a complaint with the Hong Kong Consumer Council and the Customs, but says he failed to get any satisfactory results.

As the complaints proved futile, Cao had to act on his own. He took up the matter again with the pharmacy, insisting that he was cheated.

After several rounds of loud arguments, the shop finally agreed to pay him back HK$10,000.

The Hong Kong Customs have investigated 1,296 such cases as of August since new regulations of Commodity Description Ordinance was implemented two years ago, according to the report. Most of the cheating cases involved pharmacies.

But the prosecution rate has been dismal, with only 149 cases said to have seen concrete action.

Customs officials, meanwhile, say that it’s difficult to initiate prosecution proceedings at courts without adequate proof or audio or video recordings.

While the Consumer Council can act as mediator, it often suggests that the victims file for compensation with the Small Claims Tribunal.

The victims are required to return to Hong Kong to see through the proceedings, entailing huge expenses.

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