News item

Company fined for falsely advertising HGV jobs

Press release from Tower Hamlets trading standards service: 

A director of a company based at 1 Canada Square has been fined £4,000 for falsely advertising jobs for drivers.

Hardeep Bharya of Harvey Road, Berkshire, SL3 whose company Highlife LGV Ltd offered Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) training pleaded guilty to three charges, under the Consumer Protection and Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, at Thames Magistrates’ Court on Friday 14 January.

The charges related to advertisements for HGV driver vacancies on the web-based market place Gumtree and in a North West London magazine called Training and Job Opportunities. One advertisement found on Gumtree on 11 August 2009 stated ‘We have over 80,000 vacancies nationwide’. Bharya also advertised non existent jobs on the company's website

Tower Hamlets Council’s trading standards team took steps to suspend the website on 21 October 2009 following various complaints from consumers about the company. Complaints included delays with course refunds after cancellations and delays with training. There were a number of consumers who had been waiting for their training for several months.

Further investigations showed that consumers had been lured into paying for the training courses with promises of employment afterwards.

Trading Standards Manager at Tower Hamlets Council, John McCrohan, said: 'People who want to book HGV driver training should be aware that companies like Highlife LGV Ltd are 'brokers' who sell HGV training packages and do not normally provide the training themselves. Consumers may not be aware that they can contact the training companies directly.

'Although there are companies who trade fairly, there are a number who promise jobs and exaggerate earning potential to lure consumers. If possible it’s also a good idea to pay with a credit card, if you have to pay in advance, as this provides you with added protection in case a course is cancelled or delayed. I would also advise consumers to be extra vigilant about taking out loans to pay courses as you may still be liable for payments if the company fails to deliver the course.'

Richard Ellithorne of the Road Hauliers Association (RHA), said: 'While trading standards and the RHA have concerns about the sales and marketing methods used by training brokers, their activities are not generally illegal. Customers would be well advised to research how they spend their money. Research could include asking RHA for assistance.'

Bharya was fined £1,000 for each offence and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,000 equalling a total of £4,000.