News item

Trading Standards tips for successful New Year's resolutions

New Year is the time when we reflect on the past and more importantly look forward to the future. Most of us will come up with new year’s resolutions and vow to makepositive changes, saving a bit more money or eating more healthily for example. Trading standards has put together some top tips to make sure that good intentions don’t end up leaving a bitter taste in your mouth.
“I will improve my fitness”
• In a bid to shed those extra Christmas pounds January traditionally sees record numbers of consumers signing up to gym contracts. It is important to be aware of the terms in the small print as gym contractscannot always be cancelled and may tie you into the contract for a lot longer than you think.
• Don’t be pressured into signing the contract immediately – take it away and read it at your leisure; if there is anything you don’t understand take advice before committing yourself.
• If you have entered into an agreement and you are unhappy with the service being provided you may have grounds to argue breach of contract.
“I will lose some weight”
• The New Year may seem like a perfect time to get back into those skinny jeans. Trading Standards is warning consumers to be sceptical of fad diets, misleading statements and exaggerated promises made by companiespromising to have a “miracle cure”. Not only will they fail to lighten anything but your wallet, many products may be untested and could be extremely unsafe.
• Trading Standards warns consumers to be wary of internet sellers or small ads offering weight loss supplements such as herbal remedies which promise an easy route to weightloss.
•  Consumers have reported falling foul of internet sites where they thought they were subscribingto a free slimming pill trial only to discover they were tied into expensive contracts.

“I will get on top of my finances”
• Many of us will have over spent this Christmas, so January is a great time to start thinking about our finances and start to prepare and save for next year. Consumers are warned to be cautious of companieswho promise to “clear your debts”. Bold statements such as these can come with a hefty fee, involve lending more money and are often impossible to achieve.
• Trading Standards encourage consumers to be mindful of unscrupulous loan brokers, offering non-existent loans. The scammers prey upon people who are already in a lotof debt and desperate for a way out.Never pay money up front or give out bank account details to cold callers.
• Don’t be tempted by illegal money lenders and remember, if you are in debt to a loan shark specialist help is available.
“I will find a new job”
• A fresh start in the New Year compels many people to start looking for a new job or consider supplementing their income with home working schemes. Unfortunately recruitment scams are common.Some bogus online companies have promised candidates jobs, taken an upfront payment for a uniform and registration fee and have disappeared without providing anything.
• You may be offered cash to stuff envelopesat anything from 25p to £1.50 a go after paying a registration fee. However it is dressed up, it is a scam.All you are doing is trying to recruit other people into the same scheme, so you only earn your money by ripping off other people. Don’t get involved.
• Trading Standards warns - never pay money up front and if a job offer looks too good to be true then it almost certainly is.

Graham Hebblethwaite, Chief Officer of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said:“The New Year is a great time to start making positive plans for the future. It is important that consumers are fully aware of the ways in which unscrupulous traders can use misleading practices, ensuring that they are not left worse off by New Year’s good intentions”.
Councillor Neil Taggart, Chair of West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee, which oversees the work of Trading Standards,said: “The New Yearis a time of rich picking for scamsters and people with good intentions are a number one target. We want West Yorkshire consumers to have a happy and successful New Year, this means being well informed in order to avoid a whole host of potential pitfalls”.
• You can get further advice on any of the above matters by contacting Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.