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Trading Standards - Frequently Asked Questions

I have bought something from a shop, which turns out to be faulty. What are my rights?

When you buy goods from a trader, they must:
- match any description given
- be of satisfactory quality. This means what a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory. The goods should work properly, be free from minor blemishes, have a reasonable appearance and finish, be safe to use and durable
- be fit for their purpose which means they should do what they are designed to do or any purpose made known to the seller

Does it make any difference if I buy from a market stall or by mail order?

No, your rights are the same as if you had bought from a shop.

Are my rights the same if I buy goods in a sale?

Yes, your rights are the same. However, remember that if goods are marked as 'seconds' or 'shop soiled' you can't expect them to be perfect.

I've changed my mind about something I've bought. Am I entitled to my money back?

If you've buy something and there is nothing wrong with it but you change your mind for whatever reason, you are not entitled to a refund. However, it is worth asking the shop whether they are willing to refund or exchange.

Does it matter if I lose my receipt?

If you are taking something back to the shop, you need proof of purchase. Normally, this is a receipt, but a credit card statement or bank statement might suffice.

Are my rights the same if I buy something privately?

No. The goods must meet any description given, but they needn't be of satisfactory quality.

I've bought something which is faulty, but the shop refuses to do anything. What can I do?

Trading Standards can advise you on your rights. They may be able to contact the shop for you. As a last resort you can take action using the Small Claims Procedure in the County Court

Where can I go for advice about a consumer problem?

You can call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or send them an electronic message via their website -http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england.htm. Their website also provides details of local Citizens Advice Bureaux where you can go for face-to-face advice and assistance

A shop is selling items that have passed their ‘Best Before Date’. Isn’t that illegal?

Providing the shop has made it clear to consumers that items have passed their Best Before Date, it is fine to sell them; so long as they are still fit for consumption. However, it is not permitted to sell or have items on display that have passed their Use By Date.

A shop is selling individual items marked ‘multi-pack – not to be sold separately’. Can they do this?

Providing the individual items are correctly labelled with ingredients list, nutritional information, weight / measure, etc. then this is fine. If the items are not labelled individually and this information can only be found on the multi-pack packaging, then they must not be sold separately.

I have heard about No Cold Calling Zones to discourage door-to-door sales. Can this be implemented in my area?

By law, we can only implement a No Cold Calling Zone where crime statistics show there to be a need. This is regularly reviewed to ascertain whether No Cold Calling Zones need to be moved or new zones allocated.

How can I get a No Cold Calling sticker to deter door-to-door sales people?

Email your details to tradingstandards@birmingham.gov.uk and we’ll pop one in the post.

I have a problem with an insurance or loan company. Who should I contact for assistance?

The Financial Ombudsman deals with complaints about banks, insurers and finance companies. You can contact them via their website - http://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk

I want to take a civil claim (sue) a company or individual for losses I have incurred. How do I go about doing this?

You can commence a civil claim online at http://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk. Alternatively, you can contact your local court by searching for their details at https://courttribunalfinder.service.gov.uk/.

How do I ensure I don’t buy fake goods?

Wherever possible, stick to recognised high street retailers. Ask the manufacturer of the goods you are interested in for details of their authorised outlets. If the price of the goods is significantly cheaper, it stands a good chance that the goods are not genuine. Remember – if it looks too good to be true, it usually is!

Can you close down a business?

Trading Standards do not have the power to close down a business. If a company or individual is failing to comply with the law, there are a number of actions we can take, dependent upon the seriousness of the offence and the previous history of the offender. Full details are contained within our Enforcement Policy - http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/regulatoryenforcementpolicy.

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