Resolving to be a cautious consumer in 2013
Dorset’s trading standards officers are predicting where consumer complaints about unfair trading will be coming from in 2013 – and suggesting some New Year resolutions to help.
Experiences of local residents during 2012 mean the county council’s trading standards team have a good idea what people will encounter over the next 12 months.
And, as well as offering some useful tips in dealing with potential scams, they are also urging consumers to use to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline for initial advice.
In 2013 there is a good chance:
• You will be telephoned from someone trying to let them pursue a claim you have for payment protection insurance (PPI) – hang up. They have no idea if you have a claim. If you have been mis-sold PPI, you should deal with it yourself by contacting your loan provider and avoid giving up a large slice of what you may be entitled to.
• You will be contacted via email by a ‘scammer’ trying to find out your bank details or wanting you to send money – just delete it and don't worry, as it is likely to be a random contact send to thousands of addresses.
• You will be ‘cold called’ at your home by someone selling something you don't need or at an excessive price – never deal with doorstep traders. Obtain an uninvited doorstep trader card and politely send them on their way. Go to www.dorsetforyou.com/386846 for details.
• You will need to get some work done to repair you home or maybe help a relative, or friend – find a trader you can trust. Check out the ‘Buy with Confidence’ trading standards approved traders scheme at www.dorsetforyou.com/399764 .
• You will be sufficiently dissatisfied with some goods or services you have paid for that you will want to complain to Trading Standards – you can do this by calling the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06 or visit www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/consumer_e.htm. Citizens Advice is now the first point of contact for all trading standards complaints.
In 2012 used cars sold by independent garages continued to be by far the most common source of complaint, followed by car servicing by independent garages. Other purchases featuring in the ‘most complained about’ top ten were home insulation, beds, upholstered furniture, TVs, mobile phones and phone service contracts, personal computers and laptops, and general building work.
Ivan Hancock, trading standards service manager at Dorset County Council, said:
“You don’t need a crystal ball to predict what the main areas of concern will be for consumers in 2013. We can all help ourselves by being alert to the most common unfair trading tactics and most complained about purchases, and help avoid disappointment, worry or worse. By raising awareness I hope more Dorset residents will be able to deal with consumer problems more confidentally, even if it is just knowing who to call or where to look for consumer advice.
“Anyone with a complaint about unfair or unsafe trading needs to call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 04 05 06. This is our ‘front door’, and will provide immediate advice. Complaints about problem businesses or rogue traders requiring investigation are referred to the the trading standards service. We can then focus our proactive enforcement work on areas or traders causing the most difficulties.”
Notes for editors
1. For further information, please telephone Ivan Hancock (trading standards service manager) or Martin Thursby (principal trading standards officer) on 01305 224012.
2. Further advice on Payment Protection Insurance, including how to complain is available from the Citizens Advice website: http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/debt_e/debt_insurance_e/payment_protection_insurance.htm
3. Further details on common internet scams: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/node/298
4. More information on Dorset’s trading standards service is available online at www.dorsetforyou.com/tradingstandards .