1. Besides going directly to courts, where else can consumers seek assistance or make complaints?
Other than contacting the traders directly, you may approach the following organizations:
You can contact the Consumer Council to seek advice or to make a complaint ( telephone hotline: 29292222 ).
The Consumer Council is a body corporate subsidized by Government funding. Details of its power, roles and function can be found under the Consumer Council Ordinance (Cap. 216 of the Laws of Hong Kong).
The functions of the Council are stipulated by law and include providing consumers with information on goods and services, acting as mediator in resolving consumer complaints, tendering advice on policies touching on consumer rights and interest, and encouraging businesses and professional associations to establish codes of practice.
Since the Council is not a law-enforcement body , it has no authority to sue traders. The relevant complaints are dealt with by way of mediation. However, the Council can censure trade mal-practices by naming/publicizing the traders concerned . For cases that involve significant consumer interest but cannot be resolved by mediation or other means, applications for assistance can be made to the Consumer Legal Action Fund.
Customs and Excise Department
For problems concerning "trade descriptions" or "safety of goods", you can also complain to the Customs and Excise Department directly (general enquiry hotline- 28157711; complaint hotline - 81003553). The Department will entertain complaints concerning:
- short weights and measures;
- overstating the fineness of gold and platinum;
- unsafe toys and children's products;
- unsafe consumer goods;
- discrepancies involving the rough diamonds certification scheme.
For more details concerning the above, please visit the Customs and Excise Department's webpage.
For problems concerning trade practices in relation to telecommunications and broadcasting, you can complain to Communications Authority directly.
Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong (complaints against travel agents)
The Travel Industry Council ("TIC") is entrusted with the responsibility to regulate outbound and inbound travel agents under the Travel Agents Ordinance (Cap. 218 of the Laws of Hong Kong). Its mission is to maintain a high standard of professionalism within the industry and to protect the interests of both the traders and travellers.
The TIC provides the following services to the public:
- handle consumer complaints;
- to help travellers apply for ex-gratia payment from the Travel Industry Compensation Fund and financial assistance from the Package Tour Accident Contingency Fund Scheme;
- to promote consumer awareness of travel protection and travel safety;
- 24-hour public service hotline: 2969 8188;
- inbound tourist service hotline: 2807 0707.
The TIC website contains a list of FAQs on possible consumer complaints for inbound travel and outbound travel.
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department
The mission of Food and Environmental Hygiene Department ("FEHD") is to work hand in hand with the community in building Hong Kong into a world-class metropolis renowned for its food safety and public hygiene.
- address: 44/F Queensway Government Offices, 66 Queensway, Hong Kong;
- fax: 2869 0169;
- 24-hour enquiry and complaint hotline: 2868 0000;
- e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Insurance Claims Complaints Bureau
The Insurance Claims Complaints Bureau ("ICCB") is a self-regulatory initiative implemented by the insurance industry to protect consumer interest. One of the main objectives of ICCB is to receive referrals for complaints relating to claims arising out of personal insurance policies and to facilitate the settlement or withdrawal of such complaints, disputes or claims whether by the making of awards (decisions/verdicts), or by such means as shall seem expedient.
For more information, please refer to the relevant question and answer in the insurance topic.