Hong Kong’s consumer watchdog on Thursday urged travellers to be extra vigilant amid increasing complaints over roaming services and inconsistent compensation amounts for mishandled baggage across airlines.

The Consumer Council said it received 1,213 complaints against telecom services between January and August, a jump of 70 per cent from 711 in the same period last year, and nearly equalling the 1,246 reports logged for the whole of 2021.

“With the vast variety of services available on the market, if telecom service providers offer an overly simple explanation during the sales process, discrepancies with consumers’ understanding of certain details may give rise to disputes,” vice-chairman of the council’s research and testing committee Victor Lui Wing-cheong said.

Complaints linked to travelling consumers have surged post-pandemic. Photo: Elson Li

“Don’t purchase hastily and don’t assume it’s very straightforward,” council chief executive Gilly Wong Fung-han said, adding that objections to changes related to account settings or services should be voiced promptly and directly with telecom providers.

One complainant reported a whopping bill of about HK$10,100 (US$1,290) for roaming calls on her Hong Kong mobile number in Canada, between January and February. For those two months, she was billed three times over the next three months – at HK$170, HK$4,900 and HK$5,050.

The complainant said the two- to three-month delay in invoicing, with both her April and May bills detailing calculations only to the end of February, could mislead users into continuing with the roaming service.


The telecom provider involved in the case had explained that the delay was due to dilatory data roaming usage from local service providers in Canada.

At the intervention of the council, the telecom provider offered a 20 per cent discount on the total bill in question, and deactivated call and roaming services at the complainant’s request.

The watchdog also cited other cases among telecom companies such as assuming users still required services if they did not reply to text alerts and automatically activating data roaming despite requests to shut these down years ago.

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Meanwhile, complaints against airline compensation for mishandled baggage soared to 61 cases in the January-August period, from 14 in 2022 and five in 2021 in the same period.

The council noted terms and conditions of some airlines lacked transparency, with claims handled on a “depending-on-circumstances” basis, which could spark disputes.


The watchdog surveyed 22 airlines operating flights to and from Hong Kong, and found that the time required for passengers claiming compensation to declare their baggage loss ranged between five and 45 days.

It also found that the cash allowance for delayed baggage could differ up to fourfold – from HK$237 to HK$1,777 – with airlines stipulating different requirements for eligibility.

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In particular, the council found that three carriers – AirAsia, Thai Airways and Air New Zealand – specified that checked baggage must be delayed for more than 24 hours to be eligible for reimbursements.


“International air travel passengers are typically protected by the Warsaw Convention or the Montreal Convention,” Lui said.

“These conventions outline the liability of airlines during the transport process … and in case of baggage mishaps,” he said, adding that if a passenger’s baggage was of higher value, the compensation might not be able to fully cover losses.