TIM DREW: Consumer protection from unfair trading

Tim Drew
Tim Drew

As secretary of Worthing Neighbourhood Watch, I once received a message from the representative of a somewhat dubious-looking computer support services firm, asking me to recommend an “outstanding offer” of services to our membership.

When I told him that I would raise this at the next committee meeting, he replied that the offer was limited in terms of duration and price.

“If you understand this deal,” he continued, “you will see immediately that it is an outstanding offer to you and your members, and there is no need for any discussion.”

That approach got him nowhere but, if any of you have similarly been hustled for a quick response, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 are definitely worth reading. They impose a general duty on traders not to act unfairly towards their customers and to act fairly and honestly.

Under these regulations, businesses can be held liable for misleading actions (such as telling lies or behaving underhandedly) or misleading omissions, such as concealing information material to your making an informed decision, or providing it either too late or in such a manner as to make it unclear, unintelligible or ambiguous.

31 specific practices are listed which are banned, including aggressive doorstep trading, pressure selling, and persistent cold calling.

Falsely stating that a product will only be available for a very limited time, in order to elicit an immediate response and deprive the consumer of sufficient opportunity to make an informed choice, is also banned.

Don’t forget the black and yellow door sticker which specifically mentions the regulations and requests uninvited traders to leave and not return.

The next Neighbourhood Watch and Crime Awareness event is from 10am to 4pm on Saturday (August 26) in Montague Place and, as usual, bicycle marking services will be provided free of charge, but please bring proof of identity such as a passport or driving licence.

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