Ten Trader Scams - Banned!
New regulations now protect you, the consumer, from unfair, misleading or aggressive selling. Here's the lowdown on what you need to know....
In May this year, the Office of Fair Trading launched a new set of regulations to better protect consumers from unscrupulous selling. Known as the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, they outlaw a range of dodgy practices used by traders to try and swindle you out of your hard-earned cash.
The bad news is there are quite a lot of practices for you to remember - 31 in fact - but the good news is, you, the consumer, now have the power to take action against them!
If you come across any of the outlawed practices, you can contact Consumer Direct, who will forward cases onto Trading Standards.
But of course, in order do this, you need to know what those banned selling practices are. So, to get you started, here are the first 10.
1) Providing false information about credentials
It is now illegal for traders to claim they're members of an official body, such as the Federation of Master Builders, when they're not.
2) Faking it
Similarly, traders mustn't display a trust mark or quality mark, or any other symbol that suggests they have been officially approved -- when they haven't.
3) Claiming a code of conduct has an endorsement when it doesn't
A company's code of conduct is an agreement on how it will treat its customers. A company is no longer permitted to claim its code of conduct has been officially approved by the Office of Fair Trading -- or any other professional body -- when it hasn't.
4) Claiming a business has an endorsement which isn't real
Traders mustn't falsely claim they or their products have received official approval. For example, your plumber mustn't claim he is CORGI-Registered, when he isn't.
5) Bait advertising
Traders mustn't advertise products at a particular price if they believe they won't be able to supply a reasonable number of those products to everybody who will want them, unless the traders have already explained this.
So if, for example, a flight operator advertises `Flights to Rome for £3' and the firm had only planned to offer a small number of flights to Rome at that price, this would breach the regulations. This is because the number of flights available at £3 would not be sufficient to meet demand, and the flight operator had failed to state there was limited availability in its advertisement.
6) Giving a false impression to attract the customer
Traders are not allowed to advertise a product at a particular price and then:
a) Refuse to show you the advertised item
b) Refuse to take your order for it or deliver it within a reasonable time
c) Show you a faulty sample of it, with the intention of promoting a different product
Say, for example, a trader advertises a TV in his shop window for £300, but when you ask about it, he shows you a model which doesn't work properly, and then shows you a different model at a higher price. If the trader did this deliberately to promote an alternative model, he has breached regulations.
7) Falsely claiming an offer is only open for a limited time
Traders mustn't falsely tell you a product will only be available for a limited time, or that it will only be available on particular terms for a limited time, so you feel under pressure to make a decision quickly.
8) Giving after-sales services in a different language
For example, if a trader in the UK speaks to you in English and agrees to provide after-sales service, but then provides this service only in German, without previously warning you this would happen.
9) Where the sale isn't legal
A trader should not sell goods which aren't legally his or hers to sell.
10) Claiming the customer has consumer rights as a special deal which they are already entitled to by law
You are legally entitled to a refund, repair or replacement in certain circumstances - and so you can report any trader who lies about your legal rights in this regard.
Tip of the iceberg
All this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more banned practices to come in Part Two..