Trading standards - news
Blanket give and take!
Part of the role of Trading Standards is to investigate people supplying fake or counterfeit items. Where counterfeit goods are sold in the local area, in addition to mounting a criminal investigation, Trading Standards would look to seize and detain the goods.
Last year Trading Standards seized over 130 counterfeit ‘Snuggie’ blankets. These were surrendered by two traders, who were then prosecuted and cautioned in relation to the offences.
Rather than destroy the blankets, these were donated to Bracknell Age Concern to help local residents.
This was a win-win situation for Trading Standards, as not only did we get to protect the general public from counterfeit goods, we also got the opportunity to help the elderly residents keep warm with free blankets this winter.
Don’t let your tyres tread on your wallet
After receiving numerous complaints, Bracknell trading standards officers have been working undercover to investigate the practices of local tyre repair companies. Reports suggest that some companies are attempting to sell customers a new tyre at greater cost, rather than offering a repair.
We are happy to report that most of the companies we visited were willing to repair the tyre when safe to do so. But, there are still some we investigated that would not offer a repair when a repair was perfectly feasible. We hope to ensure that customers are not ‘deflated’ by the cost of a replacement tyre and can be offered a cheaper and effective tyre repair service. Read more in our press release Undercover mission to track tyre repairs.
A note of a change in the law
From 1 November 2012 new EU regulations came into force to introduce new labelling on tyres. These labels graphically show important facts about your new tyre, such as performance in wet weather, noise level and fuel economy. This legislation makes it easier for consumers to compare different tyres and make a more informed choice.
Winter doorstep sales
As winter approaches, this authority is seeing an increasing number of reports of rogue traders operating in the area. We all need to look out for a knock on the door from a doorstep trader trying to sell fuel saving strategies such as roof repairs, driveway maintenance or cavity wall insulation. Doorstep selling is not illegal, but several incidents have led to complaints across the district.
Whilst there are legitimate doorstep traders who may provide a valid service, there are several scams to watch out for:
Cavity wall insulation
Some bogus doorstep traders may target elderly people and exaggerate the benefits of cavity wall insulation. Some may declare that you can get the installation for free by claiming the cost back under an energy conservation scheme. If a bogus trader attempts to sell you cavity wall insulation, the costs of this will be much higher than genuine tradesmen, the work may be shoddy or in some cases non-existent.
A common scam is for a bogus trader to knock on your door and say that they have left-over tarmac from a job that they have been doing nearby. They will try to persuade you that you driveway needs repairing before the winter frost sets in. They will often request payment up-front and then disappear with your money leaving you nothing to show for it.
Rogue builders will knock at your door and tell you that some of your roof tiles look unsafe and for a small fee they will fix them for you. When they are on your roof they will notice other work that needs to be done as a matter of urgency, as winter is approaching. These ‘discovered’ jobs are of course unnecessary, but the rogue builder will charge you a considerable amount for ‘repairing’ them.
Please be aware of these scams. Never agree to anything on the spot, always ask the trader to come back after you have had time to think about their offer and have discussed with a friend or family member. Do not hand over any cash and always remember that you have the right to say ‘NO’.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone on 01344 352000 should you have any questions or concerns. Also please let us know if you are aware of any doorstep traders in the area into which we can make further enquiries.
Residents can be reassured that Trading Standards Officers are working in conjunction with Thames Valley Police, officers from the Licensing team and the Vehicle & Operator Services Agency to ensure the safety of vehicles in the Bracknell area.
Trading Standards Officers check the weight of vehicles to ensure that overloaded vehicles are caught and removed from the roads. Overloaded vehicles not only damage the highway and surrounding buildings but risk injury and death for other road users from vehicles whose brakes and suspension are dangerously underpowered to deal with the loads they are under.
Recent checks have revealed a number of overloaded vehicles with 3 companies being convicted in Slough Magistrates Court in May for vehicles that were up to 57% overloaded. These companies were fined a total of over £9500 and warned with regards to their future actions.
Any residents who have concerns regarding this type of matter are asked to contact Trading Standards at email@example.com.
Ensure you are insured
Many people these days are taking advantage of paying for all or part of their holiday with Air miles or redeemable vouchers. Booking your holiday in this way can save you a great deal of money; but what happens if you cannot travel for some unavoidable reason and have to cancel?
If you have taken out travel insurance (which is strongly recommended) and you are unable to travel, you would expect your travel insurance to reimburse you the financial costs of the holiday. However, many travel insurance companies do not cover the cost of replacing Air Miles or any other form of redeemable vouchers and will only reimburse the cash amount that you have paid thereby losing the value of your vouchers.
Make sure that you check that your travel insurance covers all your costs; check independent reviews and make sure that the cover offered is exactly what you need and remember that cheaper is not always better. Keep in mind that you can cancel a travel insurance purchase that is bought online if the terms and conditions do not fit your needs or even if you have changed your mind. Distance Selling Regulations state you have a 14 day cooling-off period in which you can cancel the policy for any reason. This cooling-off period starts from when the policy begins or when you receive the policy documents whichever is the later.
Going abroad this year?
When travelling in the EU, a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC, previously known as E111) card will give you reduced, or even free, state healthcare in hospitals within the EU. It covers the cost of your treatment should the need arise on your European holiday. Residents can get this card for free by applying to the official www.ehic.org.uk website.
However, the trading standards team has received a number of enquiries where people have mistakenly applied for their cards via independent websites and been charged a fee. These independent websites are very similar in appearance to the official website including the colour scheme and branding, and fees start at £9.95 with £19.99 per application not being uncommon; if you have a family these charges can quickly mount up. The companies claim that they earn their fee by reviewing applications before submitting them to the NHS (just as you would do). However, with such a simple form the amount of checking needed is questionable.
At trading standards we advise consumers to not provide personal information to companies they are unsure of. Consumers should save their money and deal only with the official EHIC website.
Further information can be found at www.nhs.uk or by telephone on 0203 137 7091.