Home > Case Book > Unusual Case Histories from Trading Standards

Unusual Case Histories from Trading Standards

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 8 Jul 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Trading Standards Adviser Advice Advice

As a Trading Standards advice officer, you get to hear some strange things. Along with serious and sometimes upsetting tales of people being fleeced by bogus salespeople, or being caught up in Scams, losing money that they can ill afford to lose, at Trading Standards the day is lightened on a regular basis by calls from people who really should know better – or perhaps find a hobby.

Regular Visitors and Unreasonable Complaints

Every Trading Standards department seems to have its fair share of regulars, and some of these can prove exasperating. Imagine the scene when one of the regulars at a particular Trading Standards drop-in centre appeared with what looked like a wonky baking tray from a well known and now defunct kitchen supplies store. Brandishing the tray, the regular started to complain that he had bought the said item for 99p but it had proved faulty and warped in the oven.

The adviser told him that he was Entitled To His Money Back, or another tray, as long as he had proof of purchase, if the tray had warped on first use.

"I know," he said. "They already gave me a new tray. But what about the manufacturer? What are you going to do about them?"

The adviser explained that the manufacturer was not liable for the refund, but if he was concerned he could write to them voicing his displeasure. "I have!" exclaimed the regular, "and they sent me a new tray." So, he had two brand new baking trays for 99p and was still not happy. The adviser suggested that the manufacturer had done over and above what they were legally obliged to – but the regular disagreed.

"They should test everything they sell before it gets onto the shelves," he argued. Politely, the adviser suggested that this could be impossible to do, but unperturbed the regular insisted, "Marks and Spencer does it, why can't everyone else?"

Weights and Measures

Trading Standards Departments are legally obliged to investigate cases where goods are not described properly, including their weight. Officers carry out regular checks on petrol stations for example, as well as checking scales for traders, and visiting pubs and clubs to check they are giving out the correct measures for alcohol. Although that sounds more like pleasure than work! Anyway, these responsibilities often lead to unusual complaints.

One Trading Standards adviser was handed a sheet of paper with green strips sellotaped to it. A disgruntled gentleman claimed that these strips had come from his bag of frozen green beans, and that in his opinion there were far too many strings – which would have affected the weight of the bag. A difficult one to prove, but nevertheless it was passed on to the weights and measures team for investigation – and probably a polite letter.

Pointless Complaint

Another visitor was upset because he found what looked like pieces of fingernail in his bread. He had painstakingly removed the pieces from his loaf and produced them in a separate bag. On closer inspection, the nails were actually identified as wheat husk and the complaint filed away under 'pointless'.

Another adviser was presented with a delightful early morning gift when a visitor arrived having driven around 40 miles with a frozen shepherd's pie in his car. It was summertime so, by the time said pie had reached the Trading Standards office, it was well on its way to being defrosted. The complaint? It didn't look like the one on the front of the box. Of course, it wouldn't, given that it was part defrosted. But even so, after carefully noting the complaint, and sending the visitor on his way with a smile, the adviser passed the revolting item to the weights and measures team for them to decide on whether it looked like its photograph.

By far the oddest food-related complaint though was the gentleman who called the Trading Standards Advice Line and complained that his box of boil in the bag fish weighed less than it should. After complaining bitterly to the adviser, the gentleman gave his details and the adviser was just taking down his name and address when the man went very quiet. Sheepishly, he admitted to the adviser, "I'm sorry. I think I may have eaten one of the portions..."

Downright Weird

The Trading Standards Advice service attracts some strange people. Some that the advisers would probably rather not deal with. One visitor appeared in person and demanded that the advisor investigate a company for supplying hardcore porn – that wasn't hardcore enough. He actually made the adviser look at the magazine which she found humiliating.

One man called the advice line to complain that his sex toy was not fit for its purpose. The adviser didn't want the gory details so she rattled off the Sale of Goods Act and sent him on his way. Within hours, the shop that had sold the toy was on the telephone to another adviser, complaining that the customer was trying to get a refund on a very well-used toy.

And the best of all? Back in the late 1990s, one Trading Standards team was trying to work on educating people about the risks of using loan sharks. They set up a hotline for advice, and also to shop loan sharks confidentially. One day, an adviser took a call from a member of the public who asked, "Is that the Loan Shark hotline?" When she was advised that yes, it was, she asked, "Can you tell me where I can find one....?"

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
@...You will need to identify what the allergy is to first of all. If it's something that only you are allergic to, then neither the retailer nor the manufacturer could be expected to know about this. If it's a general issue that has affected more people, there may be a willingness to exchange the mattress for an alternative.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 14-Jul-15 @ 11:20 AM
Hi In February I purchased a mattress from John Rhran on line, very happy with comfort. A few days later I had red eyelids which became so sore I had to go to the Dr, at the time I thought it was some Estay Lauder products I was allergic to so I stopped using it ammediatly only my dermatitis wouldn't clear. It's now July,last week beginning of July I went on Holliday and my eyelids cleared, came home it's all started up again so my conclusion is I'm allergic to some product in the mattress. I've phoned them saying this put they didn't say much. I've put an anti allergic cover over it and I'm just waiting for the results. My ? Is what are my rights with getting my money back ? Please could you help? I'm going to stay in my spare room just to see if I change beds and my eyes clear up, then it's def, my mattress. Kind regards N Turner
... - 8-Jul-15 @ 12:58 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Kath
    Re: What If Your Plumber Makes Mistakes?
    I have a completely new bathroom fitted and everything seems to be wrong and all the other bathroom companies who have…
    20 March 2019
  • Mws
    Re: Buying a New Car: Your Rights
    I’ve just found out that my jaguar is being recalled as the published emissions are significantly higher that advertised in real…
    18 March 2019
  • Jenny
    Re: A Guide to the Consumer Rights Act 2015
    We bought my platinum and diamond engagement ring in June 2018. We got engaged in January this year so I have only…
    14 March 2019
  • Sad lady
    Re: When Am I Not Entitled to a Refund?
    I bought a sofa that would easily fit into my room. I was given very basic measurements by the seller. I have a normal…
    12 March 2019
  • Shell
    Re: What If Your Plumber Makes Mistakes?
    We bought a new build 3 years ago and we have just had a leak coming through our living room ceiling. We contacted the…
    28 February 2019
  • Aga
    Re: The Fake EHIC Card Scam
    This happed also to me:/ I used just yesterday this scam service, wasn't sure maybe a some of the low about " free of charged" been…
    27 February 2019
  • Ido
    Re: The Fake EHIC Card Scam
    I have just been scammed. The website seemed official. They charged me 24.50 to renew. I only discovered today when I received the card…
    22 February 2019
  • Annetta
    Re: Buying a Used Car: Your Rights
    I bought a car in August last year after a week i discovered a faults garage offering to help but that was 4 hours away from him…
    20 February 2019
  • Nik
    Re: How to Complain
    Purchased oak coloured laminated flooring from retailer who fitted it over a large area. 7 years on the ends of some planks have faded at an angle,…
    20 February 2019
  • BigAl
    Re: The Fake EHIC Card Scam
    I too have been caught by this scan at the cost of £27.50. The website looks official and is clearly still up and running on the 14/02/19…
    19 February 2019