Sniffer dogs help TS uncover 2.5m illegal cigarettes

sniffer-dog

Operation Henry, England’s first large scale operation by trading standards against illegal tobacco products, uncovered more than 2.5 million cigarettes with a value of over £600,000. See the full article here:

http://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/extra/news-item.cfm/newsid/1705

Solihull Trading Standards took part in the operation and visited numerous premises across the borough with our new chums above. The traders we visited all had legitimate goods and we did not find any illicit tobacco products.

If you have any doubts over potentially counterfeit or non-duty paid tobacco being sold in Solihull please call us via Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06.

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Ofgem tightens up rules for comparison websites

ofgem

Energy regulator Ofgem has introduced new rules for comparison websites which will force them to give consumers more information on the tariffs they show, amid allegations that they are hiding the best deals from consumers. See the below:

http://www.theguardian.com/money/2015/jan/21/ofgem-rules-comparison-websites

Using the wrong charger? This could happen

burntcar

London Fire Brigade have issued a warning about the risks of using the wrong charger after a remote controlled toy car burst into flames while the adult and child slept. The full article can be seen here:

http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/news/LatestNewsReleases_ToycarblazesparksBrigadesafetywarning.asp

Is it worth the risk getting a counterfeit or cheap charger? If you have concerns over the safety of a product call us via Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06

 

Beware of Distraction Burglary

distraction

Distraction burglaries occur when a bogus caller intends to trick an occupier to allow them into the property, or to create a diversion so an accomplice can sneak in.

These criminals will say or do anything to gain entry to your home. Common ruses include the pretence that the caller is a local official or utility representative who has come to deal with an ’emergency.’ The conman will keep you talking at the door or in a room in your property while his accomplice will enter the house and search for valuables. Unfortunately, elderly and vulnerable residents are most likely to be a victim of these crimes.

Rogue trading and distraction burglary often go hand in hand. In December 2014 a Solihull resident, a lone female in her 80s, was cold called by rogue roofers who carried out minimal and unnecessary work at a cost of £1,200. No paperwork or company details were left. Several days later the lady was burgled whilst out shopping.

Simple precautions to stop these crimes include:

– Do not open the door to anyone before you have checked who it is – look out of the window or use a spy hole in the door.

– IF you open the door, keep the chain on while finding out who is calling.

– Confirm the identity and purpose of the visit by calling the appropriate people – utitlity company or local authority, for example. You can set up passwords with your utility companies which their representatives will quote when they visit you.

– If you are unsure, ask a neighbour or friend who you trust to help you.

– Legitimate callers will NOT mind waiting while you take precautions to validate their identity.

– Call the police IMMEDIATELY if you feel threatened

If you or family/friends are are affected by or have information about a rogue trader please call us via Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06

 

 

Any help welcome for the Consumer Challenge Quiz!

CCQ1

For the last 10 years Solihull Trading Standards have hosted our own regional heats of the Consumer Challenge Quiz. The quiz is put on for pupils of the five special schools across the borough to help them learn key life skills in areas as diverse as consumer rights when out shopping, food hygiene, electrical safety and money management. Everyone has a great day and the winners go on to represent Solihull in the national finals held at the annual Trading Standards Institute conference in the summer. This year the winners will have a (hopefully) sunny trip to Bournemouth.

We are looking for local or national businesses to support a great cause and a fun day out for the children. Any donations or gifts to be presented as prizes on the day would be most welcome. The name of the business will be credited as supporting us on the day. If you can help please contact us on 0121 704 6853.

A short video of the national event can be seen here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXTx6AUHVsY

Fake Trading Standards operation in Portsmouth shows need for vigilance

trading standards

Criminals in Portsmouth have tricked a pensioner into giving them personal details after they falsely claimed to be Trading Standards officers taking part in a sting operation. Police are investigating. See the article here:

http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/local/pensioner-tricked-into-rogue-traders-operation-in-portsmouth-1-6542476

ALL Trading Standards officers in Solihull will have an Official Warrant of Authorisation identifying exactly who they are. If you have ANY doubts about the identity of someone knocking on your door claiming to be from Trading Standards call the council on 0121 704 8043.

Are you REALLY getting a Green Deal?

green-deal-approved

The Green Deal is a government funded energy improvement scheme for your home. Efficiency measures offered include cavity wall or loft insulation, draught-proofing and double-glazing. You pay for the work through a finance plan, the annual repayments of which should not be more than the savings you make on your energy bills.

Solihull Trading Standards have received reports recently that companies are cold calling residents offering assessments for ‘Green Deals’. They will often ask for money up front as part of the agreement. These companies do NOT appear to be approved Green Deal agents. Legitimate Green Deal assessors MUST be registered. The register of approved assessors can be found here:

http://gdorb.decc.gov.uk/consumersearch

Do NOT agree to sign a contract or hand over ANY money before you have done your research on the company. If you have any doubts at all please contact us via Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06.

For more information about The Green Deal see below:

https://www.gov.uk/green-deal-energy-saving-measures/overview

Fed up of finding your internet purchase is a fake?

counterfeit

Solihull receive numerous complaints from residents who discover the goods they have bought for good money on the internet are in fact fakes. The web is awash with counterfeit items and often the most professional looking, sleek websites can disguise conmen only too willing to take your money and only too reluctant to give it you back.

Brand-i is a website that was setup in conjunction with the Trading Standards Institute in 2011 to combat the fraudsters and allows consumers to search through their favourite well known brands and find the genuine online stockists. The directory is free to use and new brands are added to the site to reflect the current shopping trends of the online consumer. It can found here:

https://www.brand-i.org/

As always, if an indivdual item costs over £100 the we recommend you paying by credit card. If the goods then turn out to be not as described your credit card company is LEGALLY obliged to refund you your money. The same legal obligation does not apply to debit card purchases and the ‘trader’ themselves will not want to be found to refund you once you have made the purchase. While we certainly do not advocate getting into debt we want you to be able to maximise your safety while shopping by utilising all the civil rights at your disposal.

Do your research BEFORE you buy and know who or what to avoid!