Greenwich Trading Standards Help and advice for consumers The Role
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Greenwich Trading Standards - Help and advice for consumers The Role of Trading Standards Greenwich Trading Standards is responsible for enforcing consumer criminal law and also gives help and advice on consumer matters. Anyone who has a problem with consumer goods or services may therefore find it helpful to involve Trading Standards. Please contact us through Consumer Direct (details at the end of this leaflet). Enforcing criminal law Trading Standards departments are responsible for ensuring that local traders do not contravene any of the consumer criminal law. If a trader does break the law Trading Standards can bring a prosecution against her/him. Trading Standards are not obliged to bring a prosecution, even if it is clear that an offence has been committed and that a conviction would result. Trading Standards may decide to take no action or simply to warn the trader. We try to ensure our action is fair, reasonable and in proportion to the offence committed. We are also not obliged to inform the person who has complained about what action we have taken, although in practice we usually do. If Trading Standards decide to prosecute, the person making the complaint may be required to give evidence in court against the trader. Even if Trading Standards bring a successful prosecution against a trader, this will not necessarily benefit the person making the complaint. The court may, as part of the sentencing of the trader, award compensation to the complainant but does not have to do so if, for example, the trader does not have the means to pay. Courts would not normally award compensation in excess of the value of the goods or services about which the person is complaining. Some courts take the view that they do not have the necessary experience to assess the loss suffered. Advising on consumer problems Consumer advice to Greenwich residents is now provided in partnership with Consumer Direct. This is a telephone and online consumer advice service, supported by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). Consumer Direct works in partnership with Local Authority Trading Standards Advice Services and Consumer Support Networks, providing first level advice and information on a wide range of consumer problems. More complex problems or complaints requiring further investigation or assistance are referred to Trading Standards or other advice services. Dealing with recurring problems Trading Standards have powers under the Enterprise Act to action against traders whose conduct is detrimental to consumers. This means the trader must make promises to stop the practice(s) of which complaints are made. Trading Standards also work closely with the OFT. Trading Standards can also collect evidence about credit licensing to refer to the OFT. The OFT can remove or refuse credit licences for credit-related offences and where there is evidence that a trader is involved in deceitful, oppressive or otherwise unfair business practices, whether lawful or not. For example, many car dealers need a credit licence to operate. If there is evidence that, for example, they are discouraging buyers from examining vehicles or implying that a car has been checked by a motoring organisation when it has not, the OFT could remove the dealer's credit licence which would mean s/he could no longer carry out her/his business. To contact Consumer Direct Please call 08454 04 05 06 (Minicom users should call on 08451 28 13 84). To email Consumer Direct, please visit the Consumer Direct website at www.consumerdirect.gov.uk. This information can be provided in alternative formats such as large print, Braille, disk or on audio cassette on request.