Hong Kong is bursting with enough retail and dining options to keep the hungriest bargain-hunter weighed down with shopping bags and confounded by menu options for years. Here are some tips to make your shopping and dining mission in Hong Kong even easier.
You can trust shops displaying the QTS sign because they must pass stringent annual quality assessments showing that they:
The Quality Tourism Services (QTS) Scheme is organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, which also provides assistance for enquiries about purchases from shops accredited by the QTS Scheme. Find a list of QTS Scheme Retail Shops here.
Do some comparison shopping before you buy. Prices are usually clearly marked, particularly in shopping malls, department stores and chain stores. However, some small shops and street markets do not always display prices. In this case, bargaining is still possible. However, it is advisable to confirm the price of the goods prior to purchase, in particular the unit of measure used to derive the price.
From 1 April 2015, all retail businesses in Hong Kong are required to charge a minimum levy of HK$0.50 for each plastic shopping bag provided to customers. Avoid the levy and be environmentally responsible by bringing your own bag. See here for details.
Conduct research as needed to gather information on the product or service as well as users’ experience. Be sure to ask for more detailed information not provided in advertisements and promotional messages, in order to make comparisons of prices, quality and functions. Before the purchase of electronics, make sure you know what you want in terms of models, features, prices, accessories and warranty (including its geographical coverage). Call the Consumer Council Hotline at +852 2929 2222 for the names of sole agents of popular brands or visit the Consumer Council website for more information.
The Trade Descriptions Ordinance serves to enhance consumer protection. Consumers are advised to remain vigilant and address any queries they may have while shopping. Should there be any suspicious offers, consumers should turn them down firmly and leave the premises immediately. For enquiries or complaints, please call the Customs and Excise Department 24-hour hotline at +852 2815 7711 (General Enquiry) or +852 2545 6182 (Information Hotline). Details of these new provisions are available on the Customs website.
Parallel imports are items brought into Hong Kong by someone other than the official import agent. The reason parallel imports are usually cheaper is because they often offer a restricted guarantee or limited after-sale service.
This is when unscrupulous retailers showcase a product at an ambiguous price, but after receiving a deposit, claim the item is out of stock. They will then try to sell an often inferior item at an inflated price. Always look for clearly marked prices, shop around before you buy, know the product you want to buy, check for the included accessories and never allow yourself to be rushed into buying something else. Better still, shop where you see the QTS sign.
Be cautious if you’re approached by sales staff on the street. Don't buy from street touts, nor follow them into any warehouses or showrooms.
Check the product before paying and make sure you have all the accessories that should be included.
For your own good, please do not purchase pirated or counterfeit goods. Hong Kong Customs is the enforcement agency responsible for intellectual property rights protection. For any enquiries, please call the Customs 24-hour hotline at +852 2815 7711.
Check your receipts and ensure that all details and verbal agreements are fully listed.
Most Hong Kong shops accept credit cards. Check the credit card slip before signing it and remember to take your receipt. Credit card companies and/or banks issuing the cards may charge a currency exchange fee on overseas purchases. Please check with your credit card issuer for further details.
Useful contact numbers:
The Hong Kong Jewellers' and Goldsmiths' Association: +852 2543 9633
The Diamond Federation of Hong Kong (for information about diamonds): +852 2524 5081
The Gemmological Association of Hong Kong (for a list of gem-testing laboratories): +852 2366 6006
The Hong Kong Accreditation Service (for accredited testing organisations for Fei Cui [jadeite jade] and diamonds): +852 2829 4841
Always keep your receipts, because if a problem arises with one of your purchases, you will be thankful you did so. Visitors can contact the following organisations for assistance:
Refund Protection Scheme (Registered Shops) for Inbound Tour Group Shoppers
Group visitors who patronise a registered shop arranged by the Travel Industry Council (TIC) members are entitled to full refund protection if they are dissatisfied with their purchases. To apply for a refund, visitors may contact their tour operators or host agencies. Group visitors must produce the original receipt and return the purchased item, which must be undamaged and on which there must be no wear and tear from use. For more details about refund protection, please visit the TIC website or contact the Council at +852 2807 0707 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 1pm, 2pm to 5:30pm). During non-office hours, leave a message at the above hotline and the TIC will revert on the next working day.
The Consumer Council (CC) is committed to enhancing consumer welfare and empowering consumers to protect themselves. For more Information about consumer rights protection and consumer alerts, please visit the CC website or contact the council at +852 2929 2222 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5:30pm). During non-office hours, leave a message at the above hotline and the CC will revert within three working days.
Piracy, counterfeit products or other complaints about violations of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance
Customs and Excise Department's Crime-reporting Hotline: +852 2545 6182 (24 hours).
Hong Kong Police: 999 (24 hours).