Three individuals from an interior design and renovation company have been arrested for violating the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, the first such incident in the interior design industry since the ordinance was introduced two years ago.

The three were investigated and arrested by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department (HKCED) for violating the ordinance, due to misleading omissions in documents given to a client.

Photo: HKFP

At the beginning of the project, the customer was told that the renovation work on his Ma On Shan apartment would cost HK$17,000.

Of the ten items listed in the initial contract, the final item was listed as “other” and the cost was not detailed. The client was later informed by the company of 218 further chargeable items in nine additional bills.

The charges included separate costs for the removal of a door and its mechanisms, as well as a bill for the removal of a wall, billed at HK$280 per square foot, according to Apple Daily.

The apartment. Photo: HKCED via Apple Daily.

Work which was subject to the additional charges also began before the customer was informed about the price of the work. The customer was told that he would have to pay because the work had already been done.

By the time the contract was terminated, the project had cost HK$79,000. The customer paid a total of HK$50,000 and brought the case to the HKCED.

The renovation was not finished by that stage, according to Sing Tao Daily.

HKCED Headquarters. Photo: Wikicommons.

The Trades Descriptions Ordinance was first introduced in July 2013. There have been more than 70 cases under the Ordinance in the interior design industry, according to local media. However, this is the first such arrest to occur in the industry.

The arrested individuals face a fine of up to HK$50,000 and up to five years in jail.

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Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.