/ Home & Energy, Money

Been a victim of rogue traders? Don’t forget Trading Standards

A rogue trader selling watches

Scammers, rogue traders and lousy service providers are all over the news, but there are ways to hit back. One often forgotten way to do this is to get in touch with your local Trading Standards department.

If you’re concerned about the trustworthiness of internet retailers, feel you’ve been door-stopped by rogue traders or think your local high street shop has tried to pull a fast one – have you told your local Trading Standards department?

Although the Office of Fair Trading and Financial Services Authority are often most visible when it comes to the fight against rogue traders, Trading Standards’ departments are the unsung heroes of the consumer protection world.

While they may not be able to reunite you with any money you’ve lost, they can play a role in ensuring that others don’t get caught out by the same tricks.

Trading Standards have teeth

Trading Standards departments – or ‘weights and measures’ as they were once known – have been around for well over a 100 years. But as they operate largely on a local level, they don’t tend to have the profile of other national consumer-focused organisations.

Yet, everyone has a Trading Standards in their local area. And while officers don’t have the resources to investigate every case that comes in the door, they are looking to identify and act upon identified trends.

Although their first step is usually to apply pressure on companies to conform to better standards, they have the teeth to take enforcement action if necessary.

At Which? we’re liaising with Trading Standards to investigate, highlight and pursue questionable firms that are seeking to take advantage of consumers.

Have you had any success reporting rogue traders to this unsung hero? Plus, if you have any issues you want to share with us below, we’ll be sure to pass them onto Trading Standards.

Comments

i am not sure if this is still the case but I enquired of our local TSO for a list of firms/individuals they had taken action against prior to contracting some building work.

I was told that they could not do this! Who is protecting whom? I suggested and i was agreed if I monitored all the local courts I could make my own list : )

What is the current position?

John Hull says:
12 April 2011

They’re right. Even under the Freedom of Information Act, Trading Standards Services are prevented from telling you what complaints have been made about businesses. In fairness, just because a complaint has been made, it doesn’t mean it’s justified, or that the business is a rogue, and likewise, just because a business doesn’t have complaints against them, doesn’t make them a good business (it only means that no-one has complained).

That’s why many Trading Standards Services operate approval or recommendation schemes for traders. The one in *****, where I live (and in many other parts of the country), is Buy With Confidence, and businesses can be found at buywithconfidence.gov.uk

I did say taken action against which is a major step ahead – and I would be happy with those who are convicted if necessary : ) Open society, greater transparency … am I missing something here?

I assume that if I make a list of those convicted and post it on the Web that is in some way legal … or do I play safe and post it all to Wikileaks. The situation is farcical.

Recommendation schemes – I employed a nice chap from Crawley, son-in-law of a friend. Fairly useless but how was I going to deny returning a favourable card? And as for a follow up I have never received a call from Crawley TSO. What proportion of recommendations are checked.

And more to the point how come they can list approved but not unapproved! : )

I contacted Trading standards, regarding charity doorstep collections that were unlicensed and illegal.
I gave them 3 days to contact myself and catch the charity collecting, in the act, they didn’t even return my phone call and did nothing about the unlicensed collections, for which there have been six more since January 2011.

James Harrison says:
13 April 2011

Likewise, what of a national list of clients who do not pay up and bring up any number of excuses for non payment or underpayment? They think they are clever until someone eventually cracks and gets their own back on behalf of the peaceful masses of honest workmen/women who would surely take legal action would it not be so difficult/time-consuming/expensive.

Mr Pompey says:
14 December 2011

I attempted to make a purchase from this site selecting and paying for an item from http://www.abercrombiefitchuksale.com.
1. I did not know this but despite their website name they are a China based company with goods sent from Shanghai
2. They sent a different item from what I requested. I have been in contact with them but they wont refund or send the correct item

They now do not respond to any correspondence from me. What can I do?

I ordered from Natural Fencing in Suffolk in June 2014 have not recived the goods at October 2014 and they do reply to emails or calls. I have contacted Trading Standards and have also found out that the have had publicity in the past for not paying workers.

Nicola says:
28 March 2018

Hi did you get any joy from Natural Fencing in Suffolk? I’m having similar issues and wondered how you got on?

Craig says:
29 March 2018

Hi, we are waiting for our order from natural fencing as well and no response as of yet, radio silence

NFS-Nicola-Craig- The reason you have problems contacting them is ( according to them ) they are either in their workshop or out on a job . This implies they dont employ office staff nor do they provide a mobile contact number, for a company that isn’t run from a “hole in the wall ” or from a home this isn’t up to standard . I had a look at the fencing companies in Suffolk and they are Legion -webpage after webpage , this company certainly thinks a lot of themselves saying ( in a nutshell ) “we do the lot ” . The “lot ” obviously doesn’t include customer satisfaction nor communication, their business techniques leave a lot to be desired . They say contacting us by email is the “best way “.

Craig says:
1 April 2018

Well my order arrived hours after I posted this, my nervous disposition and a little distrust of online news got the better of me, can I say great service but still there radio silence needs to change, all came together, great post and rails, Rose arch good comms aswell. I would order again. Please give these guys a chance again, I will. Thanks Jim and Co. If anyone wants to see what I ordered and put up I will send u pics.

Sarah Keutgen says:
25 October 2014

Reall y sorry you too have has problems I’ve been trying to claim money back from this company thee never reply

[This comment has been tweaked to align with our Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

Sheila. says:
12 August 2015

Ordered a kitchen from best value kitchen, and the boxes contained rubbish not fit for use, The hob I ordered is cheap rubbish worth £50. They charged me over £300 for a ceramic one.. .. Lost over £300.000 and I do not know where to turn to. I have read ( to late for me ) comments on this company who use more than one Phone number and address.. .. Making phone calls to the Office they put you on hold and never answer you, we have spent over 9 hours on the phone trying to get through. Can anyone offer any advice. These need stopping before any other person looses money to them, Oh and I should have know it was a scam seeing as they only deal in cash..But we all learn by mistakes. I have and now I am out of pocket and some Moron is laughing at me.

[This comment has been tweaked to align with our Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

David says:
29 March 2016

Don’t feel foolish in paying CASH it is still an accepted AND LEGAL way of paying for goods or services.

I was a sole trader for many years and although I would accept cheques – I did feel better when paid in cash. (cash doesn’t bounce the same) So I am quite sympathetic towards small firms who say they prefer cash.

Many rogue traders play on trying to make their victims feel stupid or foolish so their actions are not escalated.

As you have no doubt found out Trading Standards are a total waste of time by being uncontactable. (Read my other post on this subject). I believe that as consumers we need better help.

As you have the name and address of the company my only suggestion is that you write to them (recorded delivery) asking for your money back as the goods supplied were faulty or not fit for purpose. If they fail to respond (failing to respond will go in your favour) then take action through the small claims court, it might appear complicated but is not too difficult, If they don’t turn up (or don’t cough up) then you need to contact the small claims court again and get the bailiffs sent in. They have to pay all the costs.

It’s over twenty years since I used the small claims court, it was quite a small amount £25 – the person who deliberately caused the cheque to bounce (apparently he did this regularly on the basis that no-one would sue for that kind of amount). He eventually had to pay the bailiffs treble figures.

twrobson says:
15 October 2016

I won a case against a trader for shoddy workmanship and was awarded full refund .He tried every trick he and his comrades could think of to delay the case and it took 20months to finalise but I won in the end or did I. Now he is contacting other traders in his field not to do business with me and so far 2 have said no .I wonder if there is anything I can do about it? He is trying to blacklist me when it should be me doing the blacklisting, but I cannot stoop as low as he does. I am a 76 year old retired person who has morals, something he knows little about.

Fencer says:
20 August 2015

Im a fencing contractor in the suffolk area and had never seen such shoddy workmanship since Natural Fencing relocated here. I’ve replaced many of their hazel hurdles that only last a few years.

[This comment has been tweaked to align with our Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

David says:
29 March 2016

I fail to see why this article sings the praises of Trading Standards (TSO) – despite all attempts to contact them I am informed that they can not be contacted directly by members of the public. They now have to be contacted via a charitable institution: The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) It appears that TSO are doing all in their power to avoid helping the public. It has now been over 6 days since I filled in the CAB online form – which doesn’t even allow enough space to describe things properly (no reply yet) and by now the rogue traders are probably living it up in foreign climes on the money they are swindling pensioners (and probably others) out of. Police are more interested in lecturing on what should have been done than stopping doorstep con men. Crime Stoppers (also a charitable institution) are also a waste of time – wouldn’t even take the vehicle number – nor would the police who they passed me over to.

I’m thinking that TSO are helping crime figure reduction by making it virtually impossible for crimes to be reported. (I’ve spoken to others who’ve also hit a brick wall in trying to report actions of rogue traders- con men – thieves or whatever other description can be given to SCUM).

Michael P says:
17 January 2017

In December 2016 I have had a lot of hassle with a company from which I tried to buy a used part for my car. When I got suspicious within the cooling off period I cancelled the order. Coincidentally, at the same time, the trader sent me an email the order had “shipped”. The trader had violated various pieces of legislation and told me to send the part back. The order never arrived. I enlisted the help of my bank and credit card company to claw the money back, £99.99 for the part (this sum is suspicious) and £9.65 p&p. Apparently section 75 of the Consumer Credit act does not apply because the price of the part was not above £100. I did get my money back in January 2017 under the chargeback scheme for the reason of failure to deliver and there being no compelling evidence of despatch. All this caused me a lot of anxiety and work. And, as has been pointed out elsewhere, one has to go through the Citizens Advice Bureau to get to Trading Standards – very frustrating. My advice is to keep meticulous records, pay by credit card, and before entering into a contract to check the internet for reviews of the trader. Unfortunately, I checked only after I got suspicious. The link http://www.businesscompanion.info/en/quick-guides/distance-sales/consumer-contracts-distance-sales on the TSI web site is also very helpful.

Nicola says:
30 March 2018

Natural Fencing promised delivery last week, then Tuesday, then Thursday surprise no fencing! Now saying Tuesday after holidays!

Well thats a First , I posted the words on Natural Fencing,s website and somebody marked me down for posting what they say .

Nicola says:
31 March 2018

Well I’ve finally received my order from Natural Fencing! The actual hurdles do look great although not in situ yet. It’s such a shame the company lets itself down by their terrible organisation and communication!

Natural Fencing says:
1 April 2018

Nicola, I am very sorry your order was delivered a week late. Relieved after the phone calls between ourselves Thursday to Saturday, during which on Friday bank holiday arranged delivery for Saturday with the carrier when they were closed ‘miracle’.
What I have learnt from this – we are often away on site with our work (as we were the week of your delivery) and that is for my mobile number on the answer machine.

Mobile number on an “answering machine ” there is me thinking a mobile /cell-net phone came into existence to contact ?? —the owner of the phone while they are —–mobile.

Nicola says:
3 April 2018

They’re up and look brilliant, time will tell as to how long they last but we are really pleased. Natural Fencing glad you have learnt from this!

Faye Johnson says:
6 August 2018

Nicole do you have the mobile number as I am still awaiting my fence and after various emails and messages left on answer still getting no reply

Another fencer says:
6 August 2018

Are good ol ‘Natural fencing’ or Winstow Ltd which is their registered name now. They owe thousands of £’s to a chap in Hampshire for a lorry load of hazel since about 2013

Abbie says:
23 November 2018

This has really worried me. I ordered from Natural fencing last week . I am now very worried. I do hope they come through with my order. 😳

Sarah Twomlow says:
23 November 2018

Trading Standards do absolutely nothing… I have been reporting faulty double glazing fitting and subsequent structural damage to them… they have taken no action at all. I will have to pay out thousands of pounds to get it fixed

TS is just like its relatives a front window for the general public set up by the government to head off any real action against its backers —big business .
Like the others in the end it proves to be “de-toothed ” , a showy haven for the UK public to voice their complains —and in most cases —get nowhere.

Its a good job I still remember the days when government departments were able to control the excesses of businesses – not now under our business run nation.

I thought it might be helpful to post a description of what my county trading standards service does [and what it does not do]. See – https://www.norfolk.gov.uk/business/trading-standards/what-we-do

It resources are limited because of a decision taken during the Coalition government by Vince Cable, the Secretary of State for Business, Industry & Skills from 2010-2015, to move public access from local government to Citizen’s Advice and transfer and reduce funding accordingly.

Local authority trading standards services should not be confused [although the similarity of name makes that almost impossible] with National Trading Standards, which is what I think Duncan is referring to. This describes what they do – http://www.nationaltradingstandards.uk/what-we-do/

Jenny Neilson says:
4 September 2019

Did all of you with natural fencing complaints receive your items eventually? I’ve been waiting for 12 weeks now and I’m really fed up

James Glover says:
14 September 2019

we put our order in and have been waiting 4 weeks, but no comms we can’t get hold of them at all (email or phone) – like you Jenny we would be interested to understand if people received items eventually.

Not according to the latest posts on TP James , about two thirds rate the company as “bad ” for the same reasons as everybody else –extremely long delays , its practically a one -man -business and although those that got the job done are happy , one person took him to court , on the day previous to court action he refunded the customer.

I remember phoning them on behalf of a poster here , he isn’t always in his office and eventually I did get an answer from a lady related to him but it was just excuses – a lot of work – Jim is very busy ( why not additional staff ) ?–answer ?- we cant afford them .
Honestly is this the way to run a nationwide business ?