Trading standards - news

Auction prosecuted

West Berkshire council have successfully prosecuted a fraudulent auction house. The fraud was committed over a number of years and has been a continued ongoing investigation. Jonathan King of Cameo Auctions has been sentenced to four years for fraud, for abusing his position and making false statements.

This case is a testament and example of a successful conviction of an unscrupulous trader. It also serves as a reminder to report any issues or concerns you have with a trader. It might be Trading Standards have an ongoing investigation with them and your evidence is what we need for a successful prosecution.

For more information on the recent case at West Berks, see getreading website.

Overloaded result - February 2015

In January this year a case regarding an overloaded vehicle in Bracknell has gone to court. The company, Perimeter Construction Limited, was prosecuted amounting to fines totalling £2,556.50 including costs for a vehicle 24.5 per cent overloaded with a rear axle 11 per cent above its maximum weight. Whilst a guilty plea was entered, the defendant did not attend court.

It is the responsibility of all road users to ensure their vehicle is not overloaded. Make sure you know what you put in the vehicle and the vehicle’s manufacturer weight limit. It should be noted that it is not only the employer and the owner of the overloaded vehicle that are liable to prosecution; it may also be the driver.

Puppy love - January 2015

Trading Standards have received numerous complaints regarding either the breed of the puppies or illegally imported and possibly sick puppies in the area.

Some unscrupulous puppy sellers have allegedly been buying litters from puppy farms and passing the animals off as being from a family home or from their own dogs. For more information on how this has affected Bracknell Forest, please see our press release.

Some tips to remember when buying a puppy:

  • be suspicious if the seller cannot show you the puppy with its mother and litter mates. View the puppy where it was born
  • get as much information about where the puppy has come from and beware if the seller is from outside the UK
  • if the puppy has been vaccinated, ask to see the documentation - this must clearly state the veterinary practice and where this was carried out - be suspicious if the address of the veterinary practice is outside the UK
  • if the seller informs you that the puppy has been brought in from another country it must have a pet passport or veterinary certificate and be more than 15 weeks of age
  • NEVER agree to have the puppy delivered to your home address or to meet the seller to collect the puppy - if the seller wants you to do this be very suspicious
  • NEVER pay for the puppy in advance
  • always register your puppy’s microchip with a UK Database

Beware the dangers of Christmas gifts - December 2014

Trading standards officers have seized thousands of counterfeit goods heading straight for the consumer market.

Imitation toys from child themed brands, including the Peppa Pig range and Disney, frequently try to enter our shops and market this time of year in the hope to attract Christmas shoppers. Not only are they fake, these toys can often be unsafe and potentially very dangerous to children and do not comply with the toy safety standards.

There may still be toys out there that have so far escaped the immediate attention of trading standards officers. So if you spot a bargain that seems ‘too good to be true’ this Christmas, then it probably is. So please take extra special care and if you see anything suspicious then please report it to either trading standards or the Citizen Advice Bureau.

Let’s make sure we protect our children this Christmas and make it a ‘very happy New Year’ for everyone.

Say no to cold callers - December 2014

Trading Standards have been receiving reports of various businesses drumming up their business at Christmas through cold calling. Don’t always believe what you hear as these are often not true.

We have been informed of various businesses claiming to be working in conjunction with the council when they are not. Pay particular attention to calls from security services.

Winter is a vulnerable time of year for all of us when it comes to security and protection, so make your Christmas a good one and check the Buy With Confidence register before selecting a tradesman or service.

Buying online this Christmas - December 2014

Did you know when you pay using your credit card that the credit, the credit card company are 'jointly and severally liable' for any breach of contract or misrepresentation?

In other words, your credit card company has the same responsibility as the retailer if something goes wrong. So, if the retailer has ceased trading and you are unable to get your money back, you may be able to get it back from your credit card company.

This covers any item or service you purchased over £100 and less than £30,000 and you do not have to put the whole amount on your card. As long as the value of the item/service is over £100, putting even just a proportion of this amount on your card will cover you for the whole amount.

So always make sure you check with your credit card company about getting your money back if all else fails. For more information, please see the Financial ombudsman service website.

Do you know what you’ve signed? - November 2014

We all know to read the small print, but watch out for some of the clauses as they could be illegal.

Blackpool Trading Standards have recently warned a hotel for imposing a penalty of £100 “for every bad review left on any website”. Clauses such as this are not only seemingly unfair, they may, in some cases, amount to a breach of consumer protection regulations.

If you are unsure on any clause of a contract you have entered into, make sure you check with the Citizen’s Advice Bureaux on 03444 111444.

For full story of the above hotel and their penalty policy, please see Trip Advisor bad review 'fine' to be refunded by Blackpool hotel on BBC.

For more information on small print and how to challenge potentially unfair terms, see the Which? website.

Supreme consumers - October 2014

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has welcomed the Supreme Court’s ruling that a consumer who entered into a doorstep selling contract was entitled to cancel his contract and get his money back when a trader failed to tell him about his legal right to cancel.

The CMA is the UK’s primary competition and consumer authority. It is an independent non-ministerial government department which has taken over many of the responsibilities from the Office of Fair Trading in upholding consumer rights, including stepping in on Supreme Court judgements to protect consumer interest.

Some tips to remember:

  • traders must provide information about the right to cancel for consumers entering into contracts in their home
  • traders must also provide information for any other non-business premises other than your home
  • you can cancel the contract within 14 days of receiving the notice
  • if no notice is given, you have 1 year and 14 days from the time which the cancellation period would have otherwise started

Plumber prosecuted - October 2014

Trading standards have successfully prosecuted a trader falsely claiming to be a member of Bracknell Forest’s ‘Buy with Confidence’ scheme along with another plumbing associations and various bogus qualifications.

The successful prosecution lead to a total £2,620 fine for contravening the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 amongst other things. In addition he was also ordered to pay all of the council’s costs and compensation to his victim.

Trading standards are here to enforce public and consumer rights which means, where necessary, prosecuting the unscrupulous traders. This case is a success for Trading standards and community protection in deterring those who misrepresent themselves to local communities.

For full details please see the new release; Plumber prosecuted following false claims.

Recalls - August 2014

We know that it is not always convenient to return a recalled product, especially if it is an item you rely on using every day. But, the recall notices are there to keep consumers safe!

The small inconvenience of returning a recalled item is worth it when you consider the potential hazards a faulty product can make, for example, dangers of injury, illness and reactions (in the case of unsafe food), electrocution and fire.

Why not check the sites below to see if you have been affected?

Trading Standards Institute

Food Standards Agency

Overloading your sockets? - August 2014

Most people use extension leads in their homes often using 4-way bar adaptors to increase the number of appliances that they can plug into a wall socket. Or, even create a daisy chain plugging one adapter into another creating yet more. Although there is space to plug in four appliances, this does not mean it is always safe to do so.

Different electrical appliances use different amounts of power. To avoid the risk of overheating and possibly fire, you should never plug into an extension lead or socket appliances that together use more than 13 amps or 3000 watts of energy. Typically, heated appliances, for example hair driers and hair straighteners, use far more energy than others meaning simultaneous use should be avoided.

Use the online socket overload calculator and plug in some typical household appliances to see the effect on the load. The calculator is provided by the Electrical Safety Council to help you to avoid overloading your sockets and reduce the risk of fire.

Visit the Electrical Safety Council website for more home and appliance safety tips.

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