Salesman convicted of misleading omission in sale of Chinese herbal medicine

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28th November 2023 – (Hong Kong) A salesman at a medicine store has been convicted of engaging in a commercial practice involving a misleading omission in the sale of a Chinese herbal medicine. The conviction was made in accordance with the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO) at the Kowloon City Magistrates’ Courts on 14th November. The salesman was remanded in custody pending sentencing and has now been sentenced to a 200-hour community service order on 28th November.

The conviction stemmed from a test-buy operation conducted by a Customs officer who disguised themselves as a customer at a medicine shop in Tsim Sha Tsui in March of this year. During the operation, the salesman allegedly misled the officer into believing that the unit price of American ginseng was calculated per catty. However, after the product was sliced, the salesman revealed that the price was actually calculated per tael, resulting in a price that was 16 times higher than expected.

Customs authorities have reminded traders to comply with the requirements of the TDO, while consumers are advised to obtain products from reputable traders and keep transaction receipts for reference.

According to the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, any trader who engages in a commercial practice that omits or hides material information, or provides material information in a manner that is unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous, or untimely, leading an average consumer to make a transactional decision, is deemed to have committed an offence of misleading omission. Upon conviction, the maximum penalty is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for up to five years.