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Customs investigates case of suspected aggressive commercial practice

     The Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) earlier received a complaint against a salesperson of a fitness centre suspected of exerting undue influence in selling membership to a customer. It was claimed that the salesperson charged the credit card of the customer without authorisation for procurement of a 10-year fitness club membership valued at $38,000. The incident was suspected to have constituted an offence of engaging in an aggressive commercial practice under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO).

     After follow-up investigation, the C&ED has taken enforcement action since the end of July. Three women and one man, aged between 35 and 59, have been arrested. The case is still under investigation and the arrested persons have been put on police bail.

     A trader commits an offence of engaging in aggressive commercial practices under the TDO if he or she uses harassment, coercion or undue influence to impair the consumer's freedom of choice or conduct in relation to a product which causes or is likely to cause the consumer to make a transactional decision. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years. The management staff will also be liable if the offence is committed with their consent or connivance or is attributed to their neglect.

     The C&ED reminds consumers to be fully aware of individual needs and affordability, and to firmly refuse to sign any documents if they have no intention to purchase a service. Before making a transactional decision, consumers should not casually provide an identity card or credit card to any salesperson for protection of their own rights.

     Members of the public may report suspected cases to the C&ED by calling the 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Issued at HKT 17:30


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