Traders reminded not to supply goods with false trade description
The Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) today (February 12) reminded traders not to supply products with a false trade description, otherwise they may breach the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO).
The reminder came after a case involving a supermarket which earlier (February 6) pleaded guilty to the charge of possessing goods with a false trade description at Kwun Tong Magistrates' Court. The defendant was convicted and fined $10,000 for the offence.
Acting on a complainant's information, the C&ED investigated a supermarket in Yau Ma Tei in July last year. A brand of potato chips, displayed for sale in the supermarket, had a price tag showing "standard price 5.5, discounted price $11.5 for two pieces". The total price for purchasing two pieces of the goods separately was actually lower than the claimed discounted price, but the price tag would mislead consumers into buying more so as to enjoy a price advantage which in fact did not exist. As the price tag contained a false or misleading trade description, it was suspected that the TDO had been breached. The C&ED therefore took enforcement action by initiating prosecution.
Under the TDO, any person who in the course of trade or business supplies any goods to which a false trade description is applied, or has in his possession for sale any goods to which a false trade description is applied, commits a criminal offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years. Under the amended TDO which came into effect on July 19 last year, "trade description" covers price, how price is calculated, or the existence of any price advantage or discount.
The C&ED reminds traders to verify the product information provided to consumers, and not to give any false or misleading information to consumers. Price is one of the most important pieces of information that can influence the purchasing decision of the consumer. The ability to make an informed choice will be hampered if any false or misleading information related to price is communicated to the consumer. If traders make price comparisons, they should be able to show clearly what prices are being compared, and to show that any claims so made are accurate and valid, in particular, that any price advantage claimed is real.
Members of the public may report any suspected violations of the TDO to the C&ED 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.