The Consumers’ Foundation yesterday warned people traveling to Hong Kong or Macau over the upcoming four-day 228 holiday to be on their guard when shopping to avoid being swindled.
The Taipei-based foundation and the Consumer Council of the Macau Special Administrative Region Government jointly issued the warning in view of the fact that Hong Kong and Macau are two of the most popular shopping destinations for travelers from Taiwan and China.
While visiting Hong Kong and Macau, “regardless of whether you are looking for electronics, abalone or Chinese medicine, you should try to get clear prices and make sure you shop around,” foundation vice chairman Mark Chang (張智剛) said.
Both the foundation and the Macau government often receive complaints from travelers who complain 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 the measurements to which the prices apply, he said.
Consumers might think they are purchasing abalone at a certain price per catty (a unit of measurement equivalent to 600g in Taiwan, but 500g in China), when in fact it is per tael, which is just one-16th of a catty, Chang said.
The buyer often does not realize the difference until the seafood has been sliced for packaging and he or she is then asked to pay. At that point, the deal has been made and nothing can be done but 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 unscrupulous traders the opportunity to exchange expensive ginseng for much cheaper turnip, or to add flour to medicinal power to increase the weight.
In Macau, travelers are advised to shop only at stores labeled “certified shops” to avoid being swindled.