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Mary McKeown Trading Standards Service. Structure Statutory enforcement authority for consumer protection legislation in Northern Ireland Part of central.

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Presentation on theme: "Mary McKeown Trading Standards Service. Structure Statutory enforcement authority for consumer protection legislation in Northern Ireland Part of central."— Presentation transcript:

1 Mary McKeown Trading Standards Service

2 Structure Statutory enforcement authority for consumer protection legislation in Northern Ireland Part of central government Approximately 30 officers for whole of Northern Ireland Offices in Armagh, Belfast, Ballymena, Enniskillen and Londonderry

3 Role of Trading Standards Service Our aim is to promote a fair trading environment in which consumers are protected against malpractice, and responsible business activity is actively encouraged.

4 How? Enforce the criminal provisions of Consumer Protection Legislation Investigate any possible breaches Provide advice to businesses Provide advice to consumers Prosecute where necessary

5 Overview We check That you get a full pint of beer That your drink is not watered down That your cotton t-shirt is cotton That you get the amount of fuel you pay for at the pump That your jewellery is sterling silver That the mileage on your car is genuine

6 Other activities Media work Fund debt advisers Talks to business, community groups, vulnerable groups Work with other agencies such as Police, Customs and Excise, Citizens Advice and independent advice centres Consumerline

7 Jim Frazer Trading Standards Service

8 SALE OF GOODS ACT 1979 (as amended) by:- The Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 The Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002

9 Previous to SOGA Caveat Emptor Buyer beware Consumerism / availability of goods Need for consumer protection

10 Sale of Goods Act 1979 Implied Terms Section 12 Title Implied condition that seller has right to sell the goods Buyer must be given quiet enjoyment of goods free from any encumbrance

11 Sale of Goods Act 1979 Implied Terms Section 13 DESCRIPTION ALL SALES (private and business) Where a description has been applied to goods the goods must match the description given Must be a reliance on the description Adverts, goods on supermarket shelves etc

12 Sale of goods act 1979 Implied terms Section 14 SATISFACTORY QUALITY Only in the course of a business NOT private sales Must be fit for the purpose for which the goods are commonly used Must be fit for the purpose made known by the buyer

13 Sale of Goods Act 1979 Implied Terms Satisfactory Quality Contd Appearance Durability Safety Free from minor defects If the defects are brought to the buyers attention before purchase then the buyer cannot argue breach of contract due to issue of satisfactory quality. Level of satisfactory quality is effected by the price and description given to the goods.

14 Sale of Goods Act 1979 Implied Terms Section 15 Sample Where goods are sold per sample the goods should match the sample Carpets Tiles Wallpaper

15 Remedies under the old law (SOGA 79) REFUND (unless you have accepted the goods) DAMAGES SOMETIMES BOTH The aim is to put the consumer back in the position they would have been if the breach of contract had not occurred.

16 Additional remedies under new law Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002 For consumers only Repair or replace Discount Money back or a discount Six month rule

17 Distance Selling Regulations 2000 No face to face contact Customer unable to examine the goods Enhanced rights for consumer Short period for withdrawal

18 Distance Selling Internet Text Messaging Phone calls faxing Mail order catalogues Interactive TV

19 Pre – Contract Information MUST INCLUDE:- Business name Business Address (if seeking payment in advance) Description of goods or services Full price (including any taxes) Details of delivery costs Details of how payment can be made Arrangements for delivery and when customers can expect goods to be delivered Information on the right to cancel

20 Durable Form In writing:- post, fax, If contract by phone information must be given in writing If information held in a catalogue or advertisement no requirement to send this durable form Must be given for goods at the latest when they are delivered and services at latest during performance

21 Cancellation Provisions 7 working days from the day after goods received or receive notice of cancellation, whichever is later For services 7 working days from the day after the customer agreed to go ahead with contract or received notice, whichever is later

22 If no cancellation provisions Deadline extended 3 months and 7 working days from the day after the customer receives goods or the service contract is concluded

23 Can the customer always cancel? No! The provisions do not apply to:- Goods made to the customers own specification Goods that cannot be returned Goods or services where the price depends on fluctuations in the financial market Betting/lottery services

24 How to cancel In writing or durable medium Letter Fax NOT BY A PHONE CALL

25 Trading Standards Service Bronagh Deery Trading Standards Officer

26 The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 Came into force in May 2008 Implement the EUs Unfair Commercial Practices Directive Primary objective is to; harmonise consumer protection law across the EU by clamping down on unfair sales and marketing practices between businesses and consumers.

27 Scope of the Regulations Relate to business-to-consumer transactions (does not cover business to business sales) Covers conduct before, during and after the contract is made Replace large parts of existing consumer protection legislation – repealed TDA, CP(NI)O Represent the biggest change in consumer protection legislation for 40 years

28 What do the Regulations do? Clamp down on unfair commercial practices Protect consumers and honest businesses Replace some existing legislation with general ban on unfair trading Contain specific offences relating to misleading actions and misleading omissions about products or services Create criminal offences for aggressive selling techniques

29 Benefits? Force traders to act in a manner consistent with the reasonable expectations of the average consumer Enable consumers to make free and informed purchasing decisions Clamp down on traders who use underhand tactics to gain an advantage Create a level playing field for traders Creates new criminal offences for practices which we were unable to deal with previously

30 What do the new Regs cover? i.General prohibition of unfair commercial practices i.e. conduct below an expected professional level ii.Misleading practices – actions and omissions iii.Aggressive sales techniques that use harassment, coercion or undue influence iv.31 specific banned practices ALL CRIMINAL OFFENCES

31 General prohibition – duty not to trade unfairly (Reg 3) States that a commercial practice will be unfair if: - it contravenes the requirements of professional diligence (honest practice) AND - it materially distorts (or is likely to) the economic behaviour of consumers with regard to a product

32 Professional diligence - standard of skill and care that is reasonably expected of a trader in that traders field of activity Acts as a safety net – includes practices that do not fall into specific prohibitions of misleading and aggressive practices and 31 specific banned practices

33 Examples of professional diligence offences Debt collector calling to debtors place of work to collect money owed Car trader who removes bulb from warning light on dashboard to avoid repairing car Builder who takes money for work that is not finished or finished to a poor standard Trader who clocks a vehicle

34 Misleading Action (Reg 5) A commercial practice is a misleading action if: It contains false information relating to a list of specified matters, or if its overall presentation is likely to deceive consumers in relation to the matters, and; It causes consumers to take a transactional decision they would not otherwise have taken

35 Specified Matters Can relate to main characteristics of product, price, the need for a service, replacement or repair, approval of external body, date of manufacture, after-sales assistance, fitness for purpose, specification, mileage, full service history, origin of product

36 Common examples of misleading actions Car odometer reading 50,000 miles when it has in fact travelled 150,000 miles Price indication on product stating £10 but charged £20 at till Trader claiming to be approved by Trading Standards Service garage stating that a car needs a particular part replaced when it does not Product stating made in Italy when it has not

37 Misleading Prices Price indicated must be actual price consumers should pay Non-optional extras must be included in price (no hidden extras) Prices in advertisements must be same as price displayed (advertised price should be valid until next edition of publication VAT inclusive

38 Misleading Prices Price comparisons in general Previous higher price and new lower price should be shown Most recent price available for 28 consecutive days Show intervening prices CoP for Traders on Price Indications Sale £9999 £8999 NOW ONLY £8499

39 Misleading Omissions (Reg 6) A commercial practice is a misleading omission if: It omits or hides material information, or gives it in an unclear, unintelligible or untimely manner, and; It causes consumers to take a transactional decision that they would not otherwise have taken

40 Material information Information that consumers need to have in order to make an informed decision Will depend on circumstances – what product is and where and how it is offered for sale May only need small amount of information for simple products and more information for complex products

41 Common examples of misleading omissions Failure to display price of car parking at point before consumers enter car park Failing to indicate that a contract must run for a minimum period Failure to indicate that goods are second hand Failure to inform consumer that vehicle has been involved in a accident Covering the odometer of a vehicle

42 Aggressive Practices (Reg 7) A commercial practice is aggressive if: It significantly impairs consumers freedom of choice in relation to the product through the use of harassment, coercion or undue influence, and; It causes the consumer to take a transactional decision that they would not have otherwise taken

43 Common examples of aggressive practices Mechanic, who has done more work to car than agreed, refusing to give the car back until he has been paid Trader selling credit who pressurises an existing borrower to take out an additional loan Trader who refuses to leave a consumers house until consumer signs contract Trader who stays in consumers home for unreasonable period of time in order to sell product to consumer Debt collector who harasses debtor by contacting them at unreasonable hours and at unreasonable locations (such as work)

44 Banned Practices (schedule 1) Blacklist of 31 practices that are banned at all times as they are deemed to be so serious (see fact sheet for full list) No need for consumer element – no requirement to prove that consumer took a different transactional decision

45 Common examples of banned practices Falsely claiming a trader is CORGI registered or a member of FMB Falsely claiming that a trader is about to close down when they have no intention of closing Falsely claiming that a product can cure illness A car trader giving the impression that they are a private seller Falsely creating the impression that the consumer has won a prize Creating the impression that the consumer cannot leave the premises until a contract is formed

46 Enforcement and Penalties The regulations are enforced by Trading Standards Service and the OFT We investigate all criminal offences and where appropriate we will recommend criminal proceeding to PPS Penalties On conviction a person is liable to; –Magistrates Court a fine up to £5,000 –Crown Court an unlimited fine and/or 2 years imprisonment

47 Thank you Bronagh Deery Consumerline:

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