|Issue 44 Summer 2009|
|Contents:||Consumer Law Lessons||Counterfeit Goods|
|Dear John||Kirklees Alcohol Education||Money Skills - Who Needs Them?|
|Motor Trade Partnership||Responsible Retailer?||Tips on buying a puppy|
|Tobacco Vending Machines||Previous Issues...|
We all go shopping, but do we know our rights? Have you asked yourself any of the these questions in the past:
• When am I entitled to a refund, repair or replacement?
• Can I take an item of clothing back if I’ve just had a change of heart?
• Do I have the right to return an item that I have bought online if I don’t like it when I receive it?
It would be great to be armed with the answers to these questions when a problem arises. In order to make consumers more informed of their rights, the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Education and Community Engagement team have devised consumer law lessons. They are currently being conducted in schools and colleges throughout West Yorkshire and give students a good knowledge base of their statutory rights.
Students look at how their rights are affected by the Sale of Goods Act and learn when they are justified in complaining about goods or services they have purchased. With more and more people purchasing online, Distance Selling Regulations are also covered, along with other areas of consumer legislation. Lessons are designed around common scenarios and get students talking about similar situations they may have found themselves in.
As well as being successfully conducted in schools/colleges, the lessons are being adapted for presenting to parents who attend Sure Start Centres so they can become more confident and informed consumers. This will also clear any common misconceptions people tend to have about refunds and their general rights.
The Consumer Law Lessons lessons are so adaptable they have been offered to businesses who have kindly sponsored young consumers competitions, to inform them of their responsibilities to consumers and what they are/are not liable for when problems arise. More comprehensive consumer law training sessions are available to businesses at a cost.
Consumer Law lesson at Calderdale College
“The sessions encouraged real life discussions around the rights and responsibilities as consumers which previously they were completely oblivious towards. The sessions were well delivered, informative and brought life to a subject that has unfortunately become axiomatic”
Furkan Uddin- Course Leader BTEC First Diploma in Business, Calderdale College
Examples of Curriculum Links:
Key Stage 3 & 4
Citizenship - 1.2a, b
If you would like further information on Consumer Law Lessons contact Rashad Basharat on 0113 393 9812 or email email@example.com
National Curriculum link: Key Stage 4, Citizenship 1h
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Counterfeiting is big business across the world but the recent economic downturn has highlighted its prevalence in the UK. The word ‘counterfeit’ is the legal definition of what are more commonly referred to as 'knock off' or ‘snide’ goods. The range of counterfeit products has increased significantly in the past five years and West Yorkshire Trading Standards investigations have highlighted this increase.
The average person may believe they are getting a ‘good deal’ or a ‘bargain’ by purchasing counterfeit goods, however this comes at a price. The quality of the counterfeit goods is inferior in comparison with the genuine articles and in some cases items can be unsafe.
Counterfeit hair straighteners, seized by Trading Standards Officers, have been found to contain dangerous electrical components that may cause the straighteners to exceed temperatures or even ignite.
It is understandable that due to the struggling economy and job losses, consumers may wish to purchase counterfeit items, as they are usually cheaper than the genuine product. Nevertheless, considering the potential for unsafe items to enter the retail market, Trading Standards recommends you only purchase from reputable sources where the origin of the product can be verified.
Another example of where consumers may think they will be able to save money is counterfeit cigarettes. They tend to be sold ‘under the counter’ and are much cheaper than genuine cigarettes. However, research has shown that counterfeit cigarettes have up to 78% more tar, up to 28% more nicotine and up to 63% more carbon monoxide than the genuine product. This may impact negatively on a person's health and lead to problems later on in life. Therefore, the message from Trading Standards is, we all know the health risks associated with smoking but smoking counterfeit cigarettes really is a very dangerous habit.
Recently, pharmaceutical products such as medicines and tablets have been counterfeited. The genuine products can retail at a premium price and many of the counterfeit items look remarkably similar to the genuine article. The counterfeit items are often sold at the full value, so as not to arise suspicion from consumers. Many counterfeit pharmaceutical products are purchased over the internet and not from recognised companies. If you suspect you may have purchased a counterfeit medicine then we suggest that you contact the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
Trading Standards works with a number of agencies including the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) and the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), to help combat counterfeiting. If you have any concerns about counterfeit products or businesses selling counterfeit goods, please contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.
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Distance Selling Regulations
Q: I ordered a bedroom suite for my new house over the internet, I was due to move in this week but the suite has not arrived. The website stated that it would be delivered in 7 days, it has now been two weeks. I called the company who advised me that I would have to wait another 7 days for delivery and that the time given on their website was just an estimate. Can I cancel and order elsewhere?
A: Under these circumstances you can only cancel if the delivery date was guaranteed. You cannot cancel the contract if the terms and conditions on the website state that the delivery date is approximate. It is worth checking the website to clarify this.
As the contract was made online, you will be covered by the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000. This allows the company up to 30 days to deliver the goods dependent on what date was agreed. If they have not delivered within this time you can cancel and claim a full refund.
You are also given a 7 working day cooling off period to return the goods if you change your mind. If you do decide to cancel you should put this in writing to the company and send it recorded delivery for proof of postage. You should then be given a refund for the cost and delivery of the goods within 30 days. It should state on the website who is liable for the return costs of the goods. There are some exceptions to your right to cancel; it is always best to check your rights with Consumer Direct.
When shopping online always make sure you are getting a good deal; shop around and check what the price includes. Know who you are dealing with, don’t assume ‘.co.uk’ means the company is based in the UK; always check the company’s geographical address. Read the small print, check your cancellation rights and keep all correspondence of the order. Protect your personal and financial information; look for a padlock symbol or ‘https’ in the website address before inputting details. You may also have additional rights if you pay with your credit card and the purchase is over £100.
Q: I had a new gas boiler fitted in December, after two weeks it stopped working. The company who supplied it said it was a faulty thermostat, I have now been without heating or hot water for two weeks and the excuses are winding me up. Although the work is guaranteed the company say I must contact the manufacturer. Is this true? What are my rights?
A: You must initially return to the company who installed it rather than the manufacturer. This will give the company the opportunity to resolve the problem. Once you have spoken to them you can follow it up, preferably by sending a recorded delivery letter and keeping a copy for records. This should include a date for remedial work to be completed to your satisfaction and at no additional cost. Your statutory rights over-ride any guarantee/warranty in any case; but it is always worth checking the terms and conditions to know where you stand.
Your statutory rights are given to you by The Supply of Goods & Services Act 1982. This Act states that goods should be of satisfactory quality and the work should be carried out with reasonable skill and care, within a reasonable time and at a reasonable price (unless a time and price are agreed otherwise).
If the company are refusing to comply with your request it may be possible to arrange to have the work completed by another company at their expense, it is always best to take advice from Consumer Direct Yorkshire & the Humber before proceeding with this action though.
Some steps can be taken to maintain boilers and pipes in the colder months. Boilers should be checked annually and maintained by a CORGI registered engineer (repairs not carried out by CORGI registered engineers could be highly dangerous or even illegal). Always look for a CORGI logo and ID badge when employing a company to fit a gas boiler. Any gas leaks should be reported immediately to Transco.
For further advice call Consumer Direct Yorkshire & the Humber on 08454 040506.
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Each time you turn on the news or look in your local paper there are stories regarding anti-social behaviour within local communities. There is often a link between such behaviour and the sale of various age-restricted goods such as alcohol, fireworks, knives, tobacco, solvents and aerosol spray paints. West Yorkshire Trading Standards recognises the need to educate young people in a fun and engaging way about the law and the consequences of trying to purchase age-restricted products.
In order to strengthen the educational message with regards to alcohol, a dedicated Kirklees Alcohol Education Officer has been appointed to the programme. Alcohol Education sessions are being carried out in high schools and colleges across Kirklees and are specifically tailored to meet the needs of the local school community. Lessons provide young people with an enjoyable, stimulating learning environment and have been delivered in various ways:
• Sessions delivered during Health Action Week, where students also learn about the impact of alcohol in terms of sexual health and contraception, healthy lifestyles, sensible limits and drinking patterns, smoking cessation and other age-restricted products.
• Delivered as part of the PHSE curriculum using whole year groups and full school assemblies.
• Role play and drama presentations using students to support key message delivery.
• Alcohol Awareness Events in schools/colleges using the Student Union’s facilities with Health and Social Care students promoting the health message amongst peers.
Working in partnership with colleagues including those from the Primary Care Trust, School Nurses, Safer Communities Partnership, the Police, colleagues from Youth Offending Team and West Yorkshire Fire Service; the teaching resources also incorporate the message of healthy living, as topics such as the effects of alcohol and substance misuse are linked with lessons focusing on underage sales and enforcing legislation in this area.
The lessons have been a big hit with Kirklees schools and colleges that have engaged with the initiative and West Yorkshire Trading Standards endeavour to make a difference to the underage drinking culture.
For more information about the Alcohol Education Programme please contact Suzanne Kitchen on 0113 393 9817 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
National Curriculum link: Key Stage 3 & 4, PSHE 2d, Citizenship 2c
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Gerry Sutcliffe MP, Minister for Sport, hosted a Parliamentary Reception showcasing Money Skills, a financial literacy project developed by West Yorkshire Trading Standards in partnership with Barclays. The event was attended by Ministers, MPs, government officers, financial professionals and trading standards officers from around the country.
Money Skills is designed to teach young people about a number of topics ranging from budgeting to banking, affordable credit, credit agreements and illegal money lending. It supports the Government’s Every Child Matters and Local Area Agreement Agendas. Its objective is to empower young people with the knowledge to make better financial choices; ultimately to help make them more capable and informed consumers.
The Parliamentary Reception was held on 3rd March at the House of Commons and included a key note speech from the Rt Hon Ed Balls MP, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, wholly supporting the project:
'In this economic climate, it is more important than ever that today’s young people are equipped with the confidence, skills and knowledge they need to become effective managers and responsible spenders in future years. I know from my own constituency experience that when West Yorkshire Trading Standards set out to do something they always achieve their goals. Barclays have obviously recognised their drive, ambition and commitment to the financial inclusion agenda.'
Gerry Sutcliffe MP, Minister for Sport praised the project and the support given by Barclays:
'The need for young people to understand the financial environment and handle finances more effectively has never been so important. Equally the banking industry has never had a greater need to engage with its existing and future customers.'
Graham Hebblethwaite, Chief Officer of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, explained the development of the project:
'As regulators of the consumer credit environment, Trading Standards’ role is to ensure that we have informed and empowered consumers. Money Skills aims to provide young people with valuable information they can use to manage their money wisely. I am sure the enthusiasm for the initiative, combined with the corporate input from Barclays will ensure the success of the project.'
Money Skills aims to provide young people with the knowledge to be better-informed, better educated and more confident citizens which will encourage them to take greater responsibility for their financial affairs.
According to research undertaken by the Personal Finance Education Group (PFEG), over half of England’s teenagers have been or are in debt by the time they are 17 and 90% worry about their money and spending but tend to think of overdrafts and credit cards as easy ways to spend more than they earn, or buy things they could not normally afford.
West Yorkshire Trading Standards is aware that young people face more responsibilities and challenges than ever and are faced with a complicated array of financial services on offer, and with the support of Barclays in delivering the project, aims to encourage young people to engage with money, build financial skills and stay informed about financial matters.
Money Skills encourages a fun, ’hands-on’ approach by presenting six very different characters…..
Arnie - Army
Finley - University Student
Maya - Graduate
Steve - School Leaver
Tania - Single Mum
Taran - Business Woman
The characters introduce young people to the world of budgeting, banking, financial terminology, affordable credit, illegal money-lending and credit reports. Throughout the session young people will acquire enterprise skills such as team working, communication, problem solving and presentation which are all transferable skills vital for the world of employment, linking closely to the skills for work agenda.
Over the next two years Money Skills is projected to reach in excess of 9,000 16-25-year olds and will be delivered across a broad spectrum of community groups across the North of England.
For more information contact ‘The Money Skills Team’ on email@example.com or ring the Money Skills hotline on 0113 393 9813.
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When buying a car or simply getting it serviced or repaired, a lot of questions may go through your mind when choosing which dealership or garage to go to. One of which is ‘How do I know they are a reputable trader?’.
West Yorkshire Trading Standards has the answer in the form of the Motor Trade Partnership scheme. It was set up to improve consumer confidence in a car industry which had suffered for years at the hands of a minority of rogue traders.
Members of the Partnership follow strict terms and conditions and are subject to annual audits by Trading Standards. It is a requirement to adopt the customer complaints procedure which is set out by the partnership which has helped both consumers and members resolve any issues amicably.
Members who demonstrate an exceptional approach to customer care receive a Customer Services Award. Recent recipients can be found on www.mtp.wyjs.org.uk. For general pre-shopping advice contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.
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West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service continues to educate its traders with the aid of Yorkshire and Humberside Trading Standards Group Underage Sales Guidance Pack. Visits are normally targeted where the service has previously received intelligence that the premise is selling age-restricted products or where we have intelligence there is a specific problem (i.e smoking prevalence, anti-social behaviour) in a given area.
The packs are straight-forward in that they contain a clear precise information sheet detailing the law for each age restricted product. All sheets must be read by each employee and signed. The owner of the business in turn is supplied with a comprehensive training booklet in order for businesses to incorporate their training plan. Further advice is given on specific complaints, completing refusal registers (one provided in pack) as well as general due diligence.
Positive feedback has been received from West Yorkshire Police who have used the packs at their Training School as well as advising traders. The pack has also been well received by West Yorkshire traders who have commented that they are a very useful training tool especially in the smaller independent sector. Also, good examples of working documents have been witnessed by West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service Officers when conducting other visits.
Should you require further information regarding the packs or Responsible Retailer Visits please contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.
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Tips on buying a puppy
• If you see an advertisement showing a wide variety of breed types think twice. This often shows that the advertiser is ordering the puppies in – often from a puppy farm in Eire where there is no legislation to prevent, control or monitor the breeding of dogs.
• These puppies are often bred and sold with breed associated problems like hip displasia, congenital eye and heart conditions or other genetic defects. These only become apparent as the puppy grows. Veterinary treatment can be expensive and in some cases the puppy could die.
• Always ask to see the puppy with its mother. If the seller cannot agree to this or if they make excuses, walk away. Often unscrupulous rackets will want to drop the puppy off at a venue of their choice, again refuse as this often signifies that the puppy is likely to have come from a puppy farm.
• Legitimate breeders are usually just as keen to see the potential owners because they want to make sure their puppies are going to good homes. Always see the mother and puppies at home as this will give you a good idea of background, health, eventual size and temperament. Legitimate breeders will not mind you asking questions as it shows to them that you are as keen about the dog’s welfare as they are.
• Is the paperwork genuine? Puppies can be sold with breed and vaccination certificates that are forged. If the paperwork is photocopied on plain paper be suspicious, make a call to check out the details then and there, and if in doubt walk away. Always check that the puppy you are buying has a proper pedigree. The Kennel Club will have records of all legitimate, registered breeders.
• No matter how sweet or sad the puppy looks, make sure that you know where the litter comes from. Traders often play on potential owner’s sympathies, or trick you into thinking that you are rescuing it and giving it a better home. The sad reality is that every puppy bought keeps cruel puppy farms in business and puts legitimate breeders in jeopardy. These farms would stop tomorrow if demand stopped.
• Be patient. Legitimate breeders will ask you to wait until the new litter is old enough and ready to be released. Many irresponsible breeders can have any puppy of your choice ready in a week because they are brought in from Ireland weekly, many are not vaccinated and have been taken away from their mothers too early.
• Never buy a puppy at a car boot sale, or from the back of a truck – you are unlikely to trace the seller if problems arise. There may be reasons why the seller wishes to get rid of the dog – it could have behavioural problems or illnesses.
• If you have already bought a puppy that has started to show signs of illness go straight to the vet and get it checked over. Make sure you have kept notes of names, addresses and vehicle numbers and report any concerns to your local trading standards office, who will investigate, and if necessary, prosecute.
• Have you considered rehoming a dog or puppy? There are many dogs, pedigree and cross-bred, that are abandoned in the UK, all of whom need good homes – those at RSPCA centres are vaccinated, microchipped and you can get excellent advice from staff as to suitable breeds for your needs.
If you are concerned about the welfare of a puppy or a breeding establishment then please contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 or your local trading standards service.
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As part of work funded by the Department of Health to reduce the number of underage sales of tobacco, West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service has undertaken a series of underage test purchases of cigarettes from vending machines. Visits were carried out across different types of trade premise, namely: Pubs and Bars, Bowling Alleys, Amusement Arcades and Bingo Halls.
Of the 112 attempts, in 70 (63%) instances the child was able to make a purchase of cigarettes. These failure rates are consistent with similar enforcement action across the entire Yorkshire & Humberside Region.
From a practical point of view our investigations have often found vending machines are situated in a position where it was impossible to supervise (for example in lobby areas or on corridors). It has also been evident that staff were unsure as to their responsibility (in some cases staff assumed they had none) and capability to control sales for the vending machine - in most instances the machine and its contents are owned by (and restocking, etc. is carried out by) a separate business.
On a positive note, as a result of our investigations, a number of traders have
taken positive steps to eliminate/reduce underage sales.
Some traders have chosen to eliminate the problem by completely removing the machine, whereas others have admitted that it would be appropriate to move the machine in order to gain greater control of sales. Authorisation of sales by members of staff in some instances has also been introduced.
In some instances this is the second time that premises have made underage sales via Vending Machines and enquiries by W.Y.T.S.S are still ongoing.
For further details contact us on 0113 253 0241 firstname.lastname@example.org
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To make a consumer complaint contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 04 05 06 or click here and use the online form.