2 Apr 2013

Companies fined for cheating tourists

10:20 pm on 2 April 2013

Two companies and two individuals have been fined a total of $259,000 in the Auckland District Court for cheating Asian tourists.

The Commerce Commission says Top Sky Holdings Ltd its managing director Haidong Chen and Kiwi Wool Ltd and its managing director Jinming Chen were convicted under the Fair Trading Act of selling alpaca and sheep wool products for significantly more than they were worth.

The charges were laid after search warrants executed on 10 premises in Rotorua and one in Auckland in August 2011.

Tourists from China, Korea and Taiwan on organised tours were taken to several of the premises and sold items such as alpaca rugs and merino or alpaca duvets.

They paid significantly more for these items than they were actually worth as a result of misleading representations the alpaca rugs were New Zealand-made, when they were imported, and the duvet wool content was 100% alpaca or merino when it was not.

The commission says Top Sky Holdings sold rugs which were actually made overseas.

Kiwi Wool sold duvets for between $400 and $1000 that cost $70 to make.

The affected tourists from China, Korea and Taiwan were on organised tours that visited souvenir stores in Auckland and Rotorua.

Six further firms and five individuals are still facing charges.

Commerce Commission chairperson Mark Berry told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme it was quite deliberate conduct by those convicted to mislead tourists.