The Consumer Council criticised seven pharmacies in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay for “unscrupulous sales tactics,” having received 127 complaints involving the retailers.

In a report published on Thursday, the Consumer Council said the pharmacies sold a number of items using dishonest methods.

The Consumer Council’s Deputy Chief Executive Simon Chui Chun-king said on Friday that the list was compiled to educate and warn consumers. He added that some pharmacies may continue to operate under a different name, but the Consumer Council would do their best to monitor sales techniques and resolve complaints.

A traditional pharmacy in Hong Kong. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The target of these scams were often mainland customers, according to local media. One of the pharmacies named, Prestige Pharmacy in Causeway Bay, is no longer in business. It topped the list with 54 complaints.

Two of the seven pharmacies have changed their names and resumed operations, reported Ming Pao.

The shopkeeper at 50-year-old Lung Shing Dispensary on Granville Road in Tsim Sha Tsui told the paper on Friday that she felt “helpless” that her pharmacy shared a similar name with many of the named and shamed retailers. She said some customers asked if the store has other branches.

Professor Yuk-Shan Wong, Chairman of the Consumer Council, said there was a grey area in the law. The Consumer Council cracks down on fake goods rather than high prices, but Hong Kong merchants can set prices at their discretion. Misleading customers, however, was a problem, he added.

Prestige Pharmacy closed down last month after being caught in the centre of a scandal. A mainland customer who bought two bottles of Hak Kwai Pain Relieving Lotion—an oil believed to have medicinal properties—found that she was charged HK$19,800 for each of them. She only realised after completing the transaction with a Union Pay card, local media reported.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.