TIM DREW: Consumers are protected from the unfair traders

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AS secretary of Worthing Neighbourhood Watch, I once received a message from the representative of a somewhat dubious-looking computer support firm, asking me to recommend an ‘outstanding offer’ of services to members.

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.

Thirty-one 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.

Residents are advised that ‘courier’ crime is on the rise and new variations have been devised by fraudsters, such as asking the victim to assist in a police investigation.

The victim is requested to withdraw a large sum of money and take it home, where it is then collected by courier.

• The only surgery to report is to be hosted by PCSO Ben Cruise at the West Worthing Baptist Church, in South Street, Tarring, between 11am and mid-day on Thursday, August 28.