Hong Kong's tradesmen are smart and seasoned and there is nothing wrong with it, except that some of them (not that many really) seem to have forgotten the difference between a seasoned businessman and a crook...
When shopping, it is advisable to pay attention to a few simple tips that will help you get a better value for your money:
- Do you know what exactly are you looking for ? Especially when it comes to electronics and computer ware, it is advisable to decide what is the exact product you want to buy, including model number, and think on an alternative or two in case you don't find it... You'll better also check the price of that product in your home country (including online shops) and see that the price you managed to get in Hong Kong is, truly, a bargain.
- Don't fall for the "parallel product trick"... One of Hong Kong's traders most favorite tactics is to give you an excellent price for the product you want and then to pretend it is "coincidently" out of stock... The vendor will then tell you he has another product that is almost identical to the one you wanted... Obviously, the "identical product" is inferior, compared to the one you wanted, and the price you'll pay for it will not be such a bargain... As mentioned already, know what you are looking for and think about an alternative or two. If none of these can be found at a certain shop, just move on and keep looking for it...
- Have you looked around ? Don't run to buy anything (especially if it's expensive) before you compared the price in a few different shops. Sales and special deals of large chains are published in local English newspapers and the folks in Hong Kong Tourism might also know something about a sale that is currently on... You can also call the Consumer Council on 2929 2222 for suggested retail prices.
- Are you buying the right product at the right place ? In many cases, you'll find there are "areas" that specialize in certain products group. Focusing on those areas will make life easier for you as the product you are looking for can be found in many nearby shops.
- Did you get what you paid for ? You'll better Check that the product comes in its original pack, that it has all the components it should have, that there is a certificate of warranty (which is valid in your home country), that there is a clear return policy in that shop and, of course, that the product is adapted to work in your country.
- Have you asked for a receipt ? In addition to the ultimate certificate of warranty, it is also important to get a receipt and to make sure that all the details are properly written on it (should not be a problem as most receipts are computer generated nowadays). In case of a problem, you can contact the Consumer Council, show them the receipt and ask them to help you out.
- What exactly are you paying for ? When buying bulk products, such as Chinese medicines, spices, dried foods and the like... you'll better find out if the price is per piece, per kilo or per packet ?
- Applying a surcharge on a credit card transaction is not allowed. If a certain shopkeeper tries to do it, you can report him to either the Consumer Council (2929 2222 ) or to the relevant credit card company
- Many shops offer packing and shipping of large items that are too big to be carried. It is advisable to ask them to commit on a date for delivery, and to write it down on the invoice/receipt.
- If you consider to buy furniture in Hong Kong, it might be a good idea for you to have a word with a customs agent in your home country. Knowing the import regulations in your country and giving the right instructions to the shipper can save you a lot of money and hassles...
A word of cautious from 'Metropolasia-Man' :
The brightly lit electronic shops along the lower end of Nathan Road in Tsim sha Tsui (and to a lesser extent in Jordan) are particularly infamous for cheating.
They will usually display a zillion signs of international manufacturers all over the front, including some tempting "tax free" and "duty free" stickers... (this is one of the best ways to "spot" them...)
They will process your credit card manually and will then tell you the product has to be brought over from their "other shop"... As you are waiting for the product to be brought, the salesman will try to push you another product (which is supposedly "better" / "more adequate to your country" / "newer" or any other nonsense...). Once you agree to take the so called "better" product, the paper will be torn and a computerized credit-card terminal will suddenly appear (where on earth has it been all this time???). Obviously, the product they just convinced you to buy will be sold to you at a rip-off price !
Try to stick to reputable shops and don't pull your credit card out before you actually see the product and ensure that's what you wanted...
Another trick that some salesmen try is to unpack a product you didn't even ask for, and then to try and play on your guilt, as if you made them think you want to buy this piece...
* Do not hesitate to speak to the Consumers Counci of Hong Kong if you think you have been taken for a ride (phone: 2929 2222)
Related articles you may also want to read...
Sales and special deals
Quality and Price
What is worth buying in Hong Kong ?