The consumer protection group said the number of complaints in the six-month period, resulting from increasing numbers of the people seeking new homes abroad, was higher than the whole year of 2018, 2019 and 2020. Only one complaint was recorded in the first six months of last year.
The complaints covered charges, delivery dates, seizure of goods, and other disputes.
Posing as a customer wishing to emigrate to the UK, Consumer Council staffers made enquiries with 15 overseas moving companies.
In its monthly magazine CHOICE, the council said the prices quoted for 220 cubic feet ranged from HKD20,000 (US$2,566) to HKD50,000 , with door-to-door shipping time varying between six weeks to five months.
Investigators were quoted between HKD50,000 and HKD134,000 for sending 500 cubic feet from Hong Kong to Toronto.
Most of the companies said shipping schedules for the next two months were either full or could not be guaranteed due to delays. Only one company, Seven Seas, said its shipping dates remain normal.
Five of the companies said they would charge customers for additional storage time if shipping was delayed, while three said they would waive storage fees if the delays did not exceed two to four weeks. Six of the companies refused to say whether any storage fee would be charged. One company did not respond to enquiries.
Among the contracts reviewed by the council, 11 companies stated that they retain the right unilaterally to change their quoted prices. Verbal promises of delivery time may also not be legally binding, the council warned. 'The shipment could potentially be delayed for several months, incurring astronomical cost,' a council statement noted.
One consumer, Ms Chan, complained that a company asked for an extra HKD12,800 in fees on top of almost HKD34,000 already paid in full, with the demand being made after her cargo had been stranded in Hong Kong for over seven weeks.
The company initially declined to indicate an expected delivery date, and told her two and a half months after her cargo had been picked up in Hong Kong that storage would cost HK$2,400 a month.
The additional fees were ultimately waived after she filed a complaint with the Consumer Council in March.