News item

Bournemouth drainage business prosecuted for misleading claims

A Bournemouth-based trader has been ordered to pay nearly £4,000 having been prosecuted by Dorset County Council’s trading standards service for making false claims when advertising his drainage services in a local directory.

On 13 August 2014, at Bournemouth Magistrates’ Court, Barry Kilduff (33), of Highland Crescent, Bournemouth, pleaded guilty to four offences under the The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. 

Kilduff, trading as “Drainrite”, placed an advertisement in the Bournemouth edition of the “BT Phone Book” in which he claimed that he did not charge VAT; that he was City and Guilds qualified, and indicating that credit cards could be used for payment. When he was called out by a retired couple from Corfe Mullen, Dorset he added VAT to their bill and refused to accept payment by credit card.

Trading standards officers investigated the couple’s complaint which revealed that Kilduff did not hold any City and Guilds qualifications, confirmed that some of his advertised claims were false and also that he had failed to give the couple a notice of their statutory right to cancel the contract. 

In mitigation for Mr Kilduff, the court heard that he had become registered for VAT the month before the offence and his contract with the company who provided the credit card machine had lapsed two month previously. It was also explained that Kilduff thought that a course that he did when he was an apprentice was a City and Guilds course, and that he had heard about cancellation notices but did not realise they were a legal requirement. Kilduff said he had since amended his adverts.

The Chair of the Magistrates said that they were under a duty to reach a proper decision for Kilduff and the residents of Dorset, before sentencing him to £750 fine on each of the four offences, ordering him to pay £594 costs to the county council and a £75 victim surcharge: a total of £3,669.

Ivan Hancock, trading standards service manager for Dorset County Council, said:

“When consumers are looking to get work done to repair and maintain their homes they are entitled to take it the advertisements businesses use are accurate. Where mistakes are made with adverts, or circumstances change, businesses are expected to bring these to their customers’ attention before starting work. Making false claims about qualifications to do certain work is significant and, as in this case, formal action is likely to be a consideration.”

The council’s Cabinet member for community services, Cllr Colin Jamieson, added:

“Selecting a business you can rely to carry out essential repairs in and around the home is often a concern for Dorset residents. To assist consumers in selecting a business they can rely on, and support local businesses wanting to emphasise their commitment to fair trading, the trading standards service operates the “Buy With Confidence” approved trader scheme. I would encourage consumers to consider using this scheme if they are not already aware of it.”

Anyone who has concerns about goods or services they have purchased should contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on their new telephone number 03454 04 05 06. This is the first point of contact for any consumer complaints requiring investigation by trading standards officers. For consumers without internet access, Citizens Advice can also help find a trader who is a member of the trading standards-approved ‘Buy with Confidence’ scheme. More information can be found at www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk 

ENDS
 
Notes to editors 

1. For further information, call Martin Thursby (principal trading standards officer) on 01305 224478, or Ivan Hancock (trading standards service manager) on 01305 224956. 

2. To find a trader that you can trust on the Buy With Confidence Scheme or find out more about the scheme see www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk 

3. To make a complaint about goods purchased or about a trader believed to be selling unsafe goods consumers can call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 . Citizens Advice is the first point of contact for consumer advice and complaints requiring investigation are passed to the trading standards service for action locally. 

4. The county council, through its trading standards service has a duty to enforce the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.which can be used deal with a very broad range of misleading claims and other misleading action or significant omissions by businesses. 

5. More information on Dorset’s trading standards service is available online at www.dorsetforyou.com/tradingstandards . 
 
DATE: 15 August 2014