Areas of law covered by trading standards
The information below covers some of the areas that fall under the remit of trading standards although this is not an exhaustive list:
- Goods and services such as home improvements, and how they are sold; the descriptions applied to properties being offered for sale
- Rogue traders, misleading advertisements including credit adverts and unlicensed trading
- Descriptions applied to precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum
- Holiday descriptions and timeshare companies
- Price indications including reductions, sales promotions and price comparisons
- The labelling and composition of cosmetics, textiles and furnishings
- Sales of mis-described or un-roadworthy vehicles and traders pretending to sell vehicles as private individuals
- Sale of food past its use by date, food composition and general food labelling
- The safety of toys and other household goods
- Illegal sales of alcohol, cigarettes, fireworks, knives and other age restricted products to young people
- Weights and measures including sales in markets, pubs and any other establishment selling goods by measure
- Animal health and welfare, and animal disease containment
How to make a consumer complaint
If you have a problem with a trader, goods or service, please contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506. They will be able to offer advice and support, as well as giving you guidance on what you can do next. The Citizens Advice Consumer Service will pass your complaint on to us. We will only contact you further ourselves should we require further information from you.
If it is a civil matter, the onus will be on you to take further action, such as writing a letter of complaint or taking a trader to the small claims court. We do not do this on your behalf.
Can trading standards force a trader to give me my money back?
No, unfortunately we can’t. If we believe a trader is setting out to deliberately deceive customers or is otherwise criminally breaking the law (rather than it being a civil dispute between customer and trader), we may take steps to ensure they comply with relevant legislation. However, this doesn’t usually include obtaining financial compensation for individual customers (although if a trader is habitually ignoring consumers rights, we can force them into an undertaking to provide better service).
By knowing your rights, as well as following advice from the Citizens advice consumer service and official online sources, you should be able to resolve most disputes yourself (traders often back down when shown their legal responsibilities by a consumer who is well-informed). However if that doesn’t work and you still feel you’re entitled to your money back or other redress, you may need to go to court. This may not be as expensive and daunting as you may think, and in the small claims court (which deals with disputes up to £10,000) you may not even need a lawyer.
Approved traders can be found via the Chartered Trading Standards Institutes approved codes scheme.
How to report a scam
Report a scam to us via the Citizen's Advice website.
We also suggest that you report it at the ActionFraud website.