Tissue rolls may all look the same but there are big variations in weight, length and number of sheets, as well as paper strength and absorbency.
The Consumer Council tested 25 models of toilet rolls - 21 of them three ply and four models of four ply, sold in 10 or 12-roll packs with prices ranging from HK$21.90 to HK$42, from HK$2.20 to HK$4.20 per roll.
The price did not guarantee a quality product as the overall rating of the most expensive model (Tempo 3-ply Neutral) and the cheapest model (SureBuy Toilet Tissues) was the same with three points on a scale of five.
Nearly half of the samples did not mention information like net weight, number of sheets and length on the product.
For the 13 models with such information, eight were actually lower than their declared weight, while the net weight of the heaviest roll (Vinda Classic Blue, 196g) was double that of the lightest one (Scott 3-ply Bathroom Tissues Economy White, 85g).
The Vinda Class Blue sample also has the longest total length with 41.7m, double the shortest Scott sample of 20.2m. However, the Vinda is 80 cents more expensive per roll than the shortest sample.
The test also found a 90 percent difference in the number of sheets from 173 to 332 per roll, which a Vinda 4D Deluxe sample was found to have the least sheets and a Virjoy Jumbo 200 sample had the most sheets. However, there is only a 10- cent difference per roll in the two samples.
In terms of strength, four-ply samples were better than three-ply rolls, with all four-ply samples rated three points or above.
A Vinda 4D Deluxe sample and a Select 4-ply Bathroom Tissue sample were rated four points in strength performance, the highest among all samples.
However, only six of the 21 three-ply models were rated three points or above in the strength test, with four weakest samples scoring only two points.
In absorbency, most of the tested models scored 3.5 to four points, but a Select 4-ply Bathroom Tissue sample rated only 2.5 points.
Meanwhile, five models were found to be more difficult to disintegrate in water, with a low two or 1.5 points, which may block the drainage.
All samples were not found to contain transferable fluorescent substances and stinky smell, nor total coliform, Staphylococcus aureus and hemolytic Streptococcus.
Clement Chan Kam-wing of the council's publicity and community relations committee said that suppliers should label genuine and full product information clearly so that consumers can make the right choice.
"Without these quantitative levels for measurement, it is impossible to compare different toilet rolls with the eyes," he said.
The council's chief executive, Gilly Wong Fung-han, said consumers can compare the size and weight of a toilet roll by hand feeling.
"In term of quality, you have to base on word of mouth and your own experience which one is best suited of your needs," she said.
The watchdog also said toilet rolls with embossments are usually rolled more loosely, and consumers are advised to choose those of greater weight, more tightly rolled and not easily dented, as well as a greater diameter in paper width with a smaller paper board core in the rolls.