Man jailed 22 months over aggressive commercial practices in HK$900k fitness sale
A fitness center salesman was on Thursday jailed for 22 months for exercising aggressive commercial practices to make a customer with a lesser behavioral competence to purchase fitness services worth HK$900,000.
The sentence marks the heaviest penalty imposed among similar cases since the Trade Description Ordinance was amended in July 2013, according to customs.
Customs received information in 2019 that staff members of a Mong Kok fitness center engaged in aggressive commercial practices when persuading a customer, with a lesser behavioral competence, to purchase fitness services amounting to about HK$900,000.
The amount was a new record for unfair trade practice cases involving the fitness industry, customs added.
Customs welcomed the record-breaking imprisonment sentence, which achieved a considerable deterrent effect and reflected the seriousness of the offense.
Since 2018, Customs has mounted a series of special operations to combat unfair trade practices among fitness centers of engaging in aggressive commercial practices in the course of selling fitness services. With the deterrent effect of the sentences, reports related to aggressive commercial practices involving fitness centers dropped significantly from 482 in 2019 to only eight in the first eight months in 2022.
Meanwhile, customs reminds traders to comply with the requirements of the ordinance while consumers should procure services from reputable shops.
Customs warns any trader commits an offense of engaging in aggressive commercial practices if harassment, coercion or undue influence is used to impair the consumer's freedom of choice or conduct in relation to the product concerned, causing the consumer to make a transaction.
The maximum penalty upon conviction carries a HK$500,000 fine and five years' imprisonment.