Trading Standards is a Government department which monitors illegal or unfair activity by companies.
Reasons to use the Trading Standards contact number:
- To report an issue with a company who sold you something.
- To report an issue with a contractor who carried out work for you.
- To report being pressured into buying something you didn’t want.
- To report being sold a car that isn’t roadworthy.
- To find your local trading standards office.
- To give further evidence of a company acting unlawfully.
- To make a complaint about how trading standards has dealt with your case.
- To get advice about your consumer rights.
When would you contact Trading Standards?
You should report a company to your local Trading Standards for several reasons. They are as follows:
- You were misled into purchasing a product or service.
- You were sold dangerous/unsafe items.
- Contractors you hired didn’t carry the work out properly/left the area in a dangerous state.
- Items you were sold are fake or counterfeit.
- You were pressured into purchasing something that you didn’t want to buy.
- You were sold a car which isn’t roadworthy, i.e. it was cause danger if it was on the roads.
What Trading Standards do:
Once you have reported a problem to Trading Standards, they will decide whether they need to investigate it. If they do decide to, they may contact you to obtain further evidence and information. Then, depending on what they find out, they may take action to stop the trader from acting in an unlawful manner. For instance, they could educate the trader about the law or take legal action in order to stop them from trading.
If trading standards don’t contact you further, they may still use your evidence in the future.
How to report to Trading Standards:
You can report a company to Trading Standards by calling the Citizens Advice consumer action helpline, telling them that you wish to report a trader to Trading Standards. They will assess the problem and put you through to Trading Standards if necessary. You should be prepared to tell the adviser the company name and address, as well as details of the problem. You can also use an online form or write to the Citizens Advice consumer action helpline.
How to find your local Trading Standards office:
Using the Trading Standards Institute website, you can enter your postcode to find your local Trading Standards office. Companies can also use the tool to check that they are trading legally.
How to find a trustworthy trader:
There are several ways to find a trader that you can trust. They include:
- Through word of mouth/ recommendation websites.
- Using the TrustMark scheme to find a local trader. TrustMark is a Government endorsed mark of quality, designed to direct people to reputable local traders.
- Find a trader using the Trading Standards Institute Consumer Codes Approval Scheme. Traders who take part in this scheme display a logo, which means that they have agreed to give good standards of service.
- If the Trading Standards Buy With Confidence scheme exists in your area, find a trader through that.
- Use the Local Authority Assured Trader Scheme Network, which links together local schemes for small businesses.
- Find a trader who is a member of a trade association.
How to shop safely online:
There are several ways to ensure that you are buying legal and authentic goods online, such as:
- Using Brand-i, which is a shopping directory that only lists web-stores which sell genuine products. You can use the directory to search for designer/branded clothing. Any websites listed will have been given the consent to sell products by the brand themselves. You can also use it to report suspicious messages.
- Look for symbols and information which give you an indication that a website is safe to use. The symbols are as follows:
- Padlock/unbroken key- shows that the website is both enabled and encrypted for online safety.
- Https- Look for this when you check out, as the ‘S’ means that a connection is secure and encrypted.
- VeriSign trust seal- This means that VeriSign has verified the identity of a company. The website will also have passed a daily malware scan.
- Trusted Shops scheme- This scheme certifies online shops by checking them against a set of criteria. You’ll be protected in the event that an item is not delivered or after returning the goods.
Advice on shopping across European borders:
For advice before you shop, head to the European Consumer Centre for Services- a website and telephone service which will give you advice before you buy. Businesses can also use this service.
For assistance with cross-border disputes, go to the UK European Consumer Centre which gives advice to consumers who are engaged in a dispute with a European trader.
Guidance for businesses
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute’s Business Companion website gives free guidance and advice to businesses, helping them to understand and comply with trading standards law. If you are unsure if trading standards apply to you, you can see basic advice. If you want an answer to a specific query, you can see quick guides to find the information that you need. For specific guidance about a certain category or sector, there are in depth guides. Businesses can also use this website to see the latest news about laws, such as the current new legislation around the sale of tobacco.
Alternative Dispute Resolution Body
In October 2015, new regulations were introduced which require traders to provide information on the availability of an Alternative Dispute Resolution service. By law, traders are required to provide information about one, but they are not required to use it. The Alternative Dispute Resolution Body is treated as a cheaper alternative to going to court, where consumers and traders will be able to solve a dispute. There are different examples of ADR processes depending on the scale and complexity of a complaint. Resolution seekers can choose to use either method.
For more information about Trading Standards laws, advice or guidance as a business, call the Trading Standards contact number above.