Seven rogue Hong Kong pharmacies have been named and shamed by the Consumer Council for using dubious trade practices.
During the last seven months, the Council has received 127 complaints about the seven traders, involving the sale of ginseng, dried seafood and Chinese medicine, with the combined transactions exceeding $1.5 million in value.
Amongst the 127 cases, only 35 cases were resolved to various extents after the Council stepped in to conciliate. The resolution rate was less than 30 per cent, far below the average resolution rate of retail disputes, which is more than 70 per cent.
The Consumer Council says it is deeply concerned about the stores’ unscrupulous sales tactics, which are detrimental not only to consumer interests but they tarnish Hong Kong’s reputation as a ‘Shopping Paradise’.
The seven shops are:
- Prestige Pharmacy Limited, G/F, 70 Percival St, Causeway Bay.
- Dragon City Drug Manor Ltd, Shop G, G/F, 1A-1L Yee Wo St, Causeway Bay.
- Great Medicine Manor, Shop A, G/F, Hong Kong Mansion, 1-4A Yee Woo St, Causeway Bay.
- Dragon City Medicines, Shop B, G/F, 54 Yun Ping Rd, Causeway Bay.
- Chung Wang Tong Medicine Co, G/F, 522 Lockhart Rd.
- Hang Tai Dispensary, Portion 1, G/F, Eastern Portion, No 15B Nelson St, Kowloon.
- Long Sing Dispensary, Portion 1, G/F, Eastern Portion, No 15B Nelson St, Kowloon
Explained the Council: “In the face of complaints, some traders refused to be responsible and adopted uncooperative attitudes. Worse still, they continued to adopt such undesirable trade practices detrimental to consumer interests.”
It said it has been receiving an increasing number of complaint over the last few years about the sale of ginseng and dried seafood. In 2014, there were 845 cases, 22 per cent more than the previous year. From January to July this year, the number of complaints has already reached 531 cases 13 per cent more than during the same period last year.
In summary, the seven traders usually employed following disgraceful sales tactics:
- Prices of goods are not clearly marked. If consumer makes an inquiry, the shopkeeper will answer in an obscure manner with a seemingly “reasonable” price. However he will enter an amount for the sale of the goods at a price 10 or even 100 times higher with the consumer’s credit card in his possession. In the course of transaction, the shopkeeper will constantly distract the consumer and keep the sales amount out of the consumer’s sight by obscuring it. Under such circumstances, consumers often sign or enter password without knowing they are being excessively overcharged.
- When consumer inquires about the price of dried seafood or Chinese herbal medicine, shopkeeper will state the unit of sale in “catty”. But once the dried seafood/herbs have been sliced or grinded into powder, they will then re-state the unit of sale in “ounce” or even “tsin”. “The goods have already been cut up or ground” is often used as an excuse to refuse cancellation of the transaction.
- The shopkeepers of the traders in question would appear as being sincere and earnest during the sales talk. They would chitchat with consumers making them unguarded or less vigilant against possible fraud. When the consumers find that there is something wrong and request refund, they would suddenly become ill-mannered and uncompromised. Other shopkeepers would also join in making the consumers submit to their pressure.
Tourists represented the vast majority of the complaints received about the seven traders.
“This publicity sanction is a strong warning signal to the dubious traders showing the Council’s disapproval of such undesired trade practices,” it said in a statement.
“The Council will continue to closely monitor sales practice of drug stores, further strengthen consumer education and work in close collaboration with relevant authorities and industry.
* Photo: Tom Hoyle