Newsletter

Jersey Consumer Council

Consumer Skills Category

Being a good consumer is about making informed purchasing decisions. We can help you to do this by equipping you with the sorts of questions we all need to ask ourselves, before making our purchasing choices – whether we are planning to buy or hire items in shops, over the telephone or online.

Competition Regulation & the Consumer

September 20, 2017 Consumer Skills No Comments
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Competition in any market place is all about providing greater choice for consumers.  It generates innovation, efficiency and enterprise amongst businesses, which means that consumers inherently get to enjoy more competitive pricing and improved quality.  And it’s protecting and promoting the interests of consumers that the Jersey Consumer Council is concerned with.

Competition, by its very nature, puts businesses under constant pressure to offer the best possible range of goods, at the best possible prices.  If they don’t, consumers have the option to buy elsewhere.  However, in Jersey, as with many other small Island communities, competition can sometimes be lacking.  This means that consumers have limited opportunities to buy elsewhere, which can be extremely frustrating.

Our pivotal role at the Consumer Council is to help minimize these frustrations and boost competition on the Island, by giving consumers a voice and businesses a greater understanding of what consumers need.  We do this through ongoing consumer research and collaborative ventures, with our contemporaries at CICRA (Channel Island Competition Regulatory Authority) and Trading Standards; businesses; industry bodies and other community groups and charities.

Regulation seeks to apply rules to make sure that businesses and companies compete fairly with each other and, in Jersey, this is overseen by the CICRA.  But somebody needs to be looking out for the little guy and that’s where agencies like the Consumer Council and Trading Standards come in.

The Jersey Consumer Council is a unique body, in that it is independent from government and can act freely as the consumers’ champion.  Our role is to encourage businesses to give themselves a competitive edge by putting consumers’ interests first.  We investigate and publicise anomalies in consumer affairs. We provide consumers with accurate and timely information, to help them make informed purchasing decisions. And we are dedicated to creating greater transparency amongst businesses competing in the market place.

Transparency can be difficult in a market which lacks competition, but it is essential for giving consumers the opportunity to genuinely compare services and prices.  Cast your minds back to petrol stations where, only a few years ago, you were unaware of the price of fuel per litre until you had actually arrived at the pump!

Effective collaboration between the regulatory authorities, the Consumer Council and the fuel providers, there is clear signage, displaying pump prices at the road.  Jersey Consumer Council also hosts Jersey Fuel Watch, a website www.jerseyfuelwatch.com on which we display both road fuel and heating oil prices, giving consumers a one-stop price-comparison shop.

One of the most confusing market sectors for consumers is telecommunications.  In a bid to improve transparency here, amidst a limited number of highly competitive providers, the Consumer Council established TelCoWatch[1], a one-stop comparisons website, to help Islanders make informed choices about how and where they best spend their telecoms budget.

This site, which is supported by the telecoms companies, cuts through industry jargon and lays out the product offerings and cost structures available, so that consumers can choose the provider, product and contract which best fits their personal needs. It is collaborations like these, established and driven by the Consumer Council, that serve to create a culture of positive, fair, consumer-led competition on the Island.

Competition isn’t just based on price; the provision of customer care can be a key area of differentiation.  This was evident when the Consumer Council conducted some research within the competitive arena of Primary Health Care. Our aim was to challenge providers to be more transparent with their pricing structures, but our findings also revealed that consumers have a strong desire to feel valued – good customer service can be a significant factor in driving their choices.

In a noteable OXERA report, Professor Sir John Vickers noted that ‘in small-island economies, such as Jersey, it is just as important that markets work well, as it is in larger economies. But in smaller jurisdictions competition policy and regulation, where competition is not possible, faces particular challenges.’  The consumer is a key player in keeping businesses competitive – they do their talking with their £££s, which can be just as powerful as regulatory efforts to control competition.

What is clear is that the consumer voice needs to be heard.  Looking after their interests is a crucial aspect within a successful, competitive market place and the Consumer Council continues to work with, and behalf of, Islanders to make a positive and valued influence on our local economy

[1] http://jerseytelcowatch.com


Peer-to-Peer Lending Explained

September 6, 2017 Banking, Consumer Skills, Money Matters No Comments
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Peer-to-peer lending, also known as Private Lending, involves matching up investors, who are willing to lend, with borrowers – either private individuals or small businesses. We are sharing this article with you to raise awareness that peer to peer lending is a private arrangement and comes bearing significant risks; attractive as a solution but be cautious and understand exactly what you are signing up to.

By cutting out the middleman and not having the overheads of traditional banks, peer-to-peer lending may offer more favourable rates, or help borrowers who have struggled to get a personal loan elsewhere.

What are the risks as an investor?

By being connected directly to someone who wants to borrow, the most immediate risk to your money is if a borrower fails to repay what you’ve lent them (known as ‘defaulting’).

Your money is also not protected by the Depositors Compensation Scheme which guarantees your savings with Jersey banks up to the value of £50,000.

 

What are the risks as a borrower?

  1. Loans are usually granted on an interest-only basis (meaning you repay no capital) and for a short duration, typically 1 to 3 years.
  2. You would normally still need to have a deposit, or a stake in whatever property you’re putting up as the asset (sometimes called the security).
  3. At the end of the term, the loan is either paid off by some means, such as replacing with a conventional bank mortgage or selling the property, or in some cases the loan can be renewed for a further period. Take care, if you have struggled to obtain a traditional mortgage and your financial situation has not improved you have no guarantee of obtaining a traditional mortgage at the end of the term to enable you to continue to live in the property. What will you do if the value of the property goes down?
  4. Interest rates can vary, depending on the lender and their appetite or consideration of the risks involved.
  5. While the rate of return may be favourable to the investor/lender, the interest rate for the borrower can be higher than high street lending and much higher arrangement and early redemption penalties.
  6. Borrowers may intend for the loan to be a short term, interim solution before moving to mainstream mortgage lending but if they are still in the same circumstances at the end, the loan can be rolled over (and over) which just continues the difficulty.
  7. We strongly recommend that you ask any lender about the Jersey Code of Consumer Lending; this is a voluntary or ‘self-regulatory’ code, which sets standards of good lending practice. These standards seek to ensure that Jersey consumers are treated fairly and that the opportunities for taking on excessive financial commitments are reduced. The Consumer Council is working hard with industry, Jersey Financial Services Commission, Citizens Advice, Trading Standards and the Financial Services Unit, Chief Minister’s Department to update the Code and to raise awareness of its importance as it provides various safeguards for consumers. The Financial Ombudsman will take codes of practice into account when determining a complaint. The Code exists even whilst it is being updated, it can be found at this link gov.je/tradingstandards/consumerlending and remains fully relevant.
  8. The Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman (CIFO) is an independent organisation that resolves complaints about financial services with powers to investigate complaints and award compensation. If you take a loan from an individual, rather than a lending business, you may not be able to complain about them to CIFO. Contact details ci-fo.org and 01534-748610.

What advice do we have for consumers?

Ask yourself why it is important for you to take on additional risk with peer-to-peer lending?

Will your financial situation improve with hard work over time so you can access the traditional mortgage market?

Do you have other housing options? Possibly rental

Our advice is to get professional, qualified and independent legal and financial advice before making any decisions. Don’t let the excitement of a new home cloud your judgement on such a large long term financial commitment. This may be the largest financial decision you ever make – don’t let it be the worst!

Make sure you have a professional valuation on the property you are thinking of buying. Consider if your property will be adequately insured – life insurance, critical illness, building and contents?

Terry Vaughan, Director, Head of Risk and Compliance at The Mortgage Shop and Henley Financial highlighted that If you’re a borrower, your lawyers need to make sure the person granting the loan has the authority and legal right to do so. Your professional adviser will also check on source of funds for the loan being proposed. You also need to ensure the terms are suitable for you. You need to be aware of the repayment schedule and be sure that it is within your budget”

 

Reference

http://www.which.co.uk/money/investing/types-of-investment/guides/peer-to-peer-investing/peer-to-peer-lending-explained


Take time to think and plan when cooking on a limited budget

September 6, 2017 Consumer Skills, Home life, Money Matters No Comments
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Eating on a budget, finding timeand having the confidence to prepare meals from scratch, are why sometimes many find it difficult. With a bit of planning, using leftovers and just giving it a go, it does get easier.

A good place to start is a weekly menu plan and a budget, which will help you get into the habit of knowing what your weekly shop will cost. Allocate one or two days for a pasta dish, they are cheap, quick with many variations, such as meatballs and spaghetti, ham and pea or simply fresh tomato sauce, all of which should cost under £5.

Sunday is a great day for a roast as you will have more time, plus you can use the leftovers for a dish or two during the week. Why not buy a bigger chicken and strip the carcass down to create a chicken and leek pie on Monday, or a chicken curry with some simple flat- breads another day?

Once you become confident with creating really simple dishes, you’ll find yourself building several weekly meal planners which you can just use time and time again. Because after all, we need these things to be simple.

Caring Cooks have a range of cost effective recipes allowing you to try your planning, shopping and cooking skills. Caring Cooks are treating us all to a Cookery demonstration 27th September Coop Grande Marche St. Helier 12:30 – 13:30 pm.

Let’s get started…

  1. Work out your weekly grocery budget (planners available by post or http://www.jerseyconsumercouncil.org.je/money-matters/budget-planner/).
  2. Plan out a weekly menu (recipes available by post or http://www.caringcooksofjersey.com).
  3. Write out your shopping list; including weight of ingredients.
  4. Be disciplined when you shop and stick to your budget. Where possible ‘Shop the Offers’. Get familiar with your supermarket’s offer cycles.
  5. Allow planning and preparation to be a priority. This gives you timeto batch-cook and freeze where appropriate. There is no need to feel guilty about time spent planning and cooking.
  6. Enjoy your cooking, keep budgeting and planning.

If you would like to learn new skillsand confidence in the kitchen, and are over 16, please get in touch with Caring Cooks to find out more.

Recipes which share ingredients and are simple to make can be found here on Caring Cooks website:

www.caringcooksofjersey.com

 


The importance of taking professional financial advice

August 30, 2017 Consumer Skills, Home life, Money Matters No Comments
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Your financial circumstances might sometimes mean that you require professional advice to make sure that you make the correct decisions and take the correct actions.

A professional adviser will help you to prioritise your financial goals and give you an understanding of the bigger picture, taking into account other important factors such as any potential tax implications and investment risk. There are thousands of different financial products and investments available and choosing the right one for you can be difficult and at times confusing.

Do you need financial advice?

You may find it helpful to speak to a financial adviser if you are not sure what you need to do or are feeling confused about the options available to you. Financial advisers can help you with a variety of things, such as:

  • Providing an income after you stop work
  • Saving and investing your money
  • Buying and insuring your home
  • Insuring yourself and your family against illness, disability or premature death
  • Passing your assets on to the next generation tax efficiently
  • Changing personal circumstances such as starting a family, redundancy, divorce or bereavement

Once your financial adviser has recommended a plan to help you achieve your financial goals it should generally be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure it remains appropriate to your circumstances and accommodates any changes to your priorities.

What does professional financial advice cost?

Financial advisers usually charge for their services in one of (or a combination of) the following methods:

  • an hourly rate – typically averaging around £150 – £250, but can be higher for specialist advice;
  • a percentage of the money invested – this can vary depending on the size of the initial investment and will typically be 0.5% to 3%. An annual charge for reviewing an investment portfolio is likely to be 0.50%-1%;
  • a fixed project fee – typically £1,000 – £5,000 for a specific piece of research and advice work;
  • some firms may also charge clients a monthly retainer fee of between £50-£100.

Fees vary depending on the experience and qualifications of the adviser and the geographical location of the business.

Advisers are no longer paid commission, except for certain non-investment product recommendations, and they have to explain to you how much the advice will cost you. You will need to agree this and how you will pay for it before any advice is provided.

What should I be looking for when dealing with an adviser?

It is important to understand whether your adviser is regulated to provide investment and financial advice in Jersey.  A regulated advisory business needs to have in place professional indemnity insurance, which would provide their clients with an additional level of security.

A professional regulated adviser will be able to draw your attention to the potential pitfalls of what may seem a fool proof way to get a much better return on your assets. This is becoming more common place because traditional methods of generating returns on your capital such as bank deposits and low risk investments are currently providing little or low returns than in previous times.

The following list is a prompt for some of the questions you can ask your financial adviser.

  • Are you regulated to provide financial advice?
  • What is you experience?
  • What types of clients do you work with?
  • What are your qualifications?
  • Do you offer an area of expertise?
  • How much will the advice cost?
  • What information will you need from me?
  • What are the risks associated with the recommendation?

Financial planning involves revealing detailed personal financial information and can involve divulging information about your goals and ambitions, so you need to be comfortable in the company of an adviser. It is worth meeting a few to determine who you are most comfortable working with in an ongoing professional relationship.

And finally..

There are two great truths when considering investments

  1. If it looks too good to be true it generally is
  2. Don’t put your investment eggs in one basket

 


Occasionally when we buy goods or services we’re asked to pay a deposit… but what are our rights?

August 30, 2017 Consumer Skills, Home life, Money Matters No Comments
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When we pay a deposit, we are committing to a binding contract with the outstanding payment to be paid at a later date. The natural position of the Law is that the deposit will not be refunded should you decide you do not want the goods or services. You should be aware that the trader may be in a position to pursue you for the outstanding money.

 

For example, when ordering a wedding dress or prom dress, we are usually required to pay something upfront. It is always recommended that you ask whether the amount it is refundable or not, and if it is, ask the person to indicate the term on the receipt or by email.

 

For further advice on this matter or any other consumer issues, please contact Trading Standards on 01534 44160.

 


Play YOUR Part

June 30, 2017 Consumer Skills, Home life, Scams No Comments
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Act on scams

and

‘PLAY YOUR PART’

Behind every deceptive money grabbing, life destroying SCAM & Fraud there is a crooked plot – acted out by unscrupulous people. Every plot has room for at least one walk on part and that’s where you and I can change the script.

 

July is the Citizens Advice National Scams Awareness month ‘PLAY YOUR PART’ and Citizens Advice Jersey is spreading the word about scams to help stop more people across the Island from being conned.

 

Malcolm Ferey, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Jersey says

 

“Being scammed can ruin people’s finances. During Scams Awareness Month we’re encouraging people to play their part in preventing scams by reporting them and telling others about them.”

 

Play YOUR Part ….

Communicator

Ask your friends, family and contacts to share a story about a recent unwanted call, they have received, an unwanted email, text or letter with you or their friends. Encourage open discussions about SCAMS.

Sharer

Share the FACTOID that 45% of people think that hearing someone’s voice makes it easier to judge their honesty. Remember, they are still strangers! #TakeFive.

Messenger

Check your consent box – to tick or not to tick the box allowing your personal information to be captured by legitimate companies and then shared or sold to affiliated/third parties simply because a consent tick box had been missed.

Reminder

Remind everyone that they shouldn’t be rushed – genuine organisations won’t mind waiting

The Companion

Let others know to listen to and TRUST their instincts – if it doesn’t feel right walk away.

Only 5% of all scams are reported so there’s so many more plots of horror we don’t even know about yet. Which makes it so hard to help those affected or to prevent others from becoming a part of the SCAM.

Scams are becoming highly sophisticated and often use grooming social skills to prey on communities.

The charity is being supported by the Consumer Council and Trading Standards to help spread the word throughout Scams Awareness Month, a campaign encouraging people to report and talk about scams that starts on Saturday 1 July, 2017.

Executive Officer of the Consumer Council, Anne King hopes that our island community spirit will play a pivotal part in keeping people safe from the emotional trauma and impacts of financial loss.

She goes on to challenge islanders to select the PART they can PLAY

Alison De Bourcier, Director of Consumer Affairs and Trading Standards in support says that:

“Trading Standards is actively supporting this campaign, the aim is to reduce the risk and impact of scams and fraud by raising awareness and encouraging Islanders to take action – recognising, reporting and talking about scams.

We all need to play our part in stopping this menace”


Local charity launches ‘Healthy Eating Week’ and encourages islanders to eat well and eat together

May 19, 2017 Consumer Skills, Home life No Comments
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The first ever Caring Cooks of Jersey Healthy Eating Week takes place from Monday 12th June through to Saturday 17th June. The local charity which aims make nutritious and tasty food part of daily life is encouraging us all to think about how we can eat well and eat together, even when short on time and on a tight budget.

 

There are plenty of inexpensive, nutritious and delicious foods available all of which can be used to prepare healthy meals from scratch in a much shorter time than you might think. Planning your meals and smarter shopping can help you to make your money go further and help you cut down on waste too.

 

Here are just a few top tips from Caring Cooks of Jersey on how to be cost conscious but enjoy healthy, delicious and nutritious food.

 

  1. Plan your meals. Planning your weekly meals, writing – and sticking to, a shopping list will help you avoid making the impulse buys which often tip the bill over budget. Scan the shelves for lower cost items, be aware of special offers but don’t be tempted to buy something that may actually go to waste. Supermarket economy ranges can be great value and nutritionally there is often little difference to the standard or branded versions.

 

  1. Look for special offers on long shelf-life products. Stocking up on store cupboard staples such as dried pasta and rice, tinned or dried beans and pulses and tinned tomatoes can save money. All these ingredients can be used to bulk out your meals to make them go further.

 

  1. Buy cheaper cuts of meat. Use chicken thighs rather than breast for example, and whilst you may not be familiar with cooking a whole chicken, this can be great value, especially if you use it for more than one meal. A traditional roast chicken is delicious and really simple to do, then use any left overs for curry or with salad or vegetables the next day.

 

Mince is also a great ingredient, versatile and inexpensive, there are lots of tasty, satisfying dishes you can make with mince such as lasagne, bolognaise, cottage pie or one of our family favorites mince and pea curry.

 

Caring Cooks of Mince and Pea Curry Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • Pack of beef or lamb mince
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 2 fresh green chillies, deseeded and finely diced (optional)
  • 4tbsp medium curry paste
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp. tomato puree
  • 250g frozen peas
  • Coconut cream (optional, as it can be quite expensive)

Recipe

  1. Heat the oil in a pan and cook the onion on a low heat until lightly golden
  2. Add the garlic, chillies (if using), cumin seeds and curry paste and fry for 2-3 mins and then add the mince, cooking until it’s browned
  3. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, sugar and 100ml cold water.
  4. Simmer for about 20 minutes, add in the frozen peas and coconut cream (if using), and cook for another 10 minutes.  Serve with boiled white or brown rice

 

Supermarkets often have ‘bulk buying’ offers on meat such as ‘three for two’ and similar. Anything you are not going to use straight away can be put in the freezer for another time.

 

  1. Make use of canned oily fish. Canned sardines and salmon can be cheaper than buying fresh fish, plus they are easy to prepare and have a long shelf life. Choose those canned in spring water to keep the salt content to a minimum. You can make fishcakes with canned tuna, cooked potatoes and chopped parsley with a squeeze of lemon. Roll the mix in flour, egg and breadcrumbs and then fry lightly. Using frozen fish is another great way to help ensure you are getting Omega 3 fats and can often be added to dishes straight from the freezer.

 

  1. Use frozen and canned fruit and vegetables. Using frozen vegetables can be cheaper than using fresh and they count towards your 5 A DAY. If you have a stock in your cupboard you can use them when you want without them going off, which cuts down on waste. But do watch out for those that have added sugar and opt for varieties in water when possible.

 

  1. Buy fresh fruit and vegetables when in season. Here in Jersey we have an abundance of wonderful, locally grown produce – make the most of it! Fresh fruit and vegetables in season are often great value and they taste fantastic.

 

Of course budget planning, shopping and cooking food from scratch can seem a little daunting, many people may never have learned to cook, or perhaps have lost their confidence in the kitchen. If that sounds familiar then why not join one of the Community Cooking Courses offered by Caring Cooks of Jersey? These courses are a great way get into the kitchen, to learn new skills in a friendly and supportive environment and to help change the way you and your family eat. The courses run over a five week period on either a Monday and Wednesday evening at Le Rocquier School, St Clement. All the ingredients are provided and each week you get to take home a tasty two course meal. For more information and to book a place visit the ‘Our Services’ section on the Caring Cooks website www.caringcooksofjersey.com.

More top tips

Use leftover vegetables to make soup. Soups made with added pasta, rice, beans, lentils or root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips and carrots are tasty, filling, cheap and freeze well.

Baked potatoes are great as a healthy and filling meal. Experiment with your favourite toppings. Make the most of having the oven on and add some extra potatoes that can then be kept for a couple of days in the fridge (or longer in the freezer) and microwaved for a quick meal another time.

Store bread in the freezer. If you don’t use bread that often and you have space in your freezer, why not freeze the loaf when you buy it and then take a few slices out as and when you need them to avoid waste.

Make your own ‘ready meals’. Simply double your usual recipes and freeze half. Dishes such as chilli, cottage pies, soups and stews all freeze well and are ideal for those days when you don’t have the time to cook.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Charities & Bequest Issues

February 22, 2017 Consumer Skills, Home life No Comments
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The majority of us will have had personal experience with specific charities. For many, it is important to support these charities after our death so that their services can continue to provide a benefit and make a difference. Leaving a bequest to a charity in your Will is a great way of doing this.

 

When leaving a bequest some may have a specific purpose in mind for the bequest they are making, however it is important to bear in mind that there are a vast number of charities, some with very specific aims and some with a wide and general purpose. Is it possible therefore, to bequeath money to a charity and specify how they put that money to use? The short answer is that in general, it is not possible to specifically direct how you would like your money to be used. This is because once a bequest has been made the funds belong to the charity and they are free to decide how best to use it. Having said this, it is possible to express a wish in your Will that the money be used for a specific purpose. This will give the charity a clear idea of how you intended the money to be used even if it is not binding. One of the most common examples that we see, is a bequest to a medical charity, with a wish expressed that the money to be used for research purposes.

 

 

Advocate Zoe Blomfield, Managing Partner

t: +44 (0) 1534 888666


Trading Standards & Consumer Council Top Ten for Christmas

November 3, 2016 Consumer Skills, Home life, Money Matters, Top tips No Comments
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Settle down with a warm drink and peruse our Christmas survival tips…ranging from call out charges to buying on line and the risks of fake products.

  1. Buying Online

In most cases if you shop online with a Jersey, UK or EU trader you have a right to cancel and receive a full refund, even if you just don’t like the goods or have simply changed your mind.

This is in addition to your normal statutory rights. There are some exceptions and time limits apply. Check it out before you buy. Extra tips here… http://www.jerseyconsumercouncil.org.je/consumer-skills/shopping-online/

 

  1. Product Safety

Be safe this Christmas. Follow the instructions and appropriate warnings. Make sure toys are CE marked and follow the intended age warnings.

 

  1. Know who you are buying from

If you are shopping online make sure you know who and where the trader is based. For example don’t assume you are buying from Amazon when you may be buying from an Amazon seller outside the EU.

Your goods may not comply with European safety standards, they may take a long time to arrive and the cost of returning them may be uneconomical.

 

  1.  Fakes


Don’t be tempted to buy really cheap branded goods online. Electrical goods may be a fire or electrical shock hazard and perfumes and cosmetics may contain harmful substances.

 

  1. Additional Protection

You get additional protection when you buy goods or services over £100 if you paid using your credit card. If something goes wrong and the trader won’t help, the credit card company may have to step in.

 

  1. Christmas Loans

If you have to borrow money, make sure they are a reputable lender. Do you understand exactly what you are signing up to and what will happen if your financial situation gets worse? Is the lender a subscriber to the Jersey Code of Consumer Lending?  See www.gov.je/tradingstandards/consumerlending

 

  1. Call out Charges

If you have to call out a tradesman for an emergency repair during this festive season make sure you know what the ‘call out’ or ‘minimum charge’ will be before you agree. Make sure you both understand what work will be carried out, what it will cost (or how it will be calculated) and when and how the trader expects payment.

 

  1. Faulty Goods

You have statutory rights if goods are faulty or not fit for purpose. Try to keep gift receipts as it will help if things go wrong and don’t delay in complaining.

 

  1. Unwanted Gifts

Your statutory rights do not apply if you simply changed your mind. Check out the store’s returns policy before you buy. Remember if you bought online, you may have additional rights.

 

  1. Recall and Safety Notices

Trading Standards publish product recalls and safety warnings. To sign up for notifications, visit www.mygov.je

You can select the category of goods you are interested in, for example food, toys, electrical goods and nursery products.

 

Finally, do you know where to get help? Trading Standards offer a free and confidential Consumer Advice Service. The drop in service is located under the clock in the Central Market. 
You don’t need an appointment. Alternatively you can call on 448160 or email tradingstandards@gov.je


Scary but Safe

October 21, 2016 Consumer Skills, Health Matters, Home life No Comments
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In the build up to Halloween, the Fire and Rescue Service and Trading Standards are reminding parents to


check Halloween costumes for the CE mark,

• always follow instructions and safety information,

• avoid naked flames by replacing candles with LED equivalents, and

• make parents and children aware of what to do if any costume or clothing catches fire – ‘stop, drop and roll’

Background

The safety of children’s costumes, in particular Halloween costumes, came to the attention of the public and gained prominence in 2014 when television presenter Claudia Winkleman’s 8 year old daughter was severely burned after her witch costume caught fire, having been in contact allegedly with or close proximity to a lit candle inside of a pumpkin.

In September 2015 a nationwide investigation into the safety of children’s fancy dress costumes was commissioned.
These costumes currently have to comply with toys safety standards. The standards do not require costumes to be non-flammable, but the rate at which they burn has to be within an acceptable range, and where applicable relevant warnings are present, to minimise the risk.

Results of the 2015 investigation

A program of sampling was co-ordinated and of the 309 samples submitted for testing, 80% passed.
Of those that failed, 14 costumes were too close to the prescribed limit so they were recorded and neither pass nor fail.

47 costumes failed.
10 of these were technical failures due to the absence of warnings.
37 were due to the rate of spread and therefore unacceptable failures.

Trading Standards up and down the UK have been working with suppliers to improve the compliance rate.

An interesting fact to come out of the investigation was that the cost of the outfit had no real bearing on compliance. Therefore cheaper costumes did not result in more failures.

There was also little difference in the failure rate when sampling costumes purchased through UK local or national retailers.

A number of national retailers now voluntarily ensure their costumes meet higher standards contained within the Children’s Nightwear standard.

Advice to parents


In the run up to Halloween, the advice is to avoid naked flames, replace candles with LED equivalents and to make parents and children aware of just what they should do in the event of a costume, or any article of clothing for that matter, catching alight through the Fire and Rescue Service’s advice of ‘stop, drop and roll’.