Customs officers arrested two more employees of a fitness center in Yau Ma Tei for alleged violation of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance.
The latest arrests brought to six the number of people who were arrested after two customers complained that they were forced to buy fitness club membership in the establishment, Apple Daily reports. The suspects were aged between 20 and 64.
Chan Yin-hong, senior trade controls officer of the Customs and Excise Department’s Intellectual Property Investigation Bureau, said two students, both 16 years old, lodged a complaint against the fitness center in late April, alleging that they were coerced into signing membership in the club by its employees.
The students said while they were walking along a street in Mong Kok, the employees approached them and asked them to try the equipment at the fitness center for free.
When they went to the establishment, their Hong Kong identity cards and ATM cards were taken away by the staff, who claimed to have paid for their membership, which allegedly cost HK$3,000 and HK$18,000 respectively, without their permission.
After investigating their complaint, agents of the bureau arrested two employees and two directors of the fitness center on April 24 and two more employees on Thursday.
The six, all male, were suspected of engaging in aggressive commercial practices.
Under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, a person engages in aggressive commercial practices if he or she uses harassment, coercion or undue influence to impair the consumer’s freedom of choice or conduct, causing the customer to make a transactional decision.
The maximum penalty for the offense upon conviction is a fine of HK$500,000 and imprisonment for five years.
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