Travelers to Hong Kong, Macau warned of retail fraud


TAIPEI–The Consumers’ Foundation yesterday warned people traveling to Hong Kong or Macau over the upcoming four-day 228 holiday to be cautious while shopping there to avoid being cheated. The Taipei-based foundation and the Consumer Council of the Macau Special Administration Region Government jointly released the warning in view of the fact that Hong Kong and Macau are two popular tourist and shopping destinations among travelers from Taiwan and mainland China.

While visiting Hong Kong and Macau, “no matter if you are after electronics, abalone or Chinese medicine, you should try to get clear answers of prices and should make sure to shop around,” said Mark Chang, vice chairman of the foundation.

Both the foundation and the Macau government have frequently received travelers’ complaints about being tricked by unscrupulous traders when shopping in Hong Kong and Macau, Chang said. The complaints include owners of Chinese medicine stores or shops selling abalone who confuse buyers by pricing their products without detailing what measurement units they apply, he said. Consumers might think they are purchasing abalone at a certain price per catty (a unit of measurement equivalent to 600 grams in Taiwan, but 500 grams in China). But in fact it is per tael, which is just one 16th of a catty, he said. The buyers do not know the difference until the seafood has been sliced for packaging and they are told to pay. At that point, the deal has been made and nothing can be done but to pay up, he said.

The foundation also warned travelers that when purchasing expensive Chinese medicine in Hong Kong, they should not ask for the goods to be sliced or ground into powder because this gives traders the chance to exchange expensive ginseng for much cheaper turnip, or to add flour into medicine power to increase the weight. In Macau, travelers are advised to shop only at stores that are labeled as “certified shops” to avoid being swindled.