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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
Member

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?

Member
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

Member

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! : )

Member

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.

Member
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.

Member
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?

Member

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.

Member
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]

Member
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]

Member
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.

Member
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.

Member
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]

Member
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).

Member
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.