Newsletter

Jersey Consumer Council

Tag: shopping

Complaining or Complimenting?

March 6, 2018 Consumer Skills, Home life No Comments

We all enjoy a spot of praise now and again, and remember to praise where praise is due. Express your thanks when something goes well. BUT if you find yourself in a position of being dissatisfied with a product or service, follow our simple guide to making an effective complaint.

  1. In the first instance, give the business an opportunity to put things right. We all make mistakes, and a good business can be judged on successful complaints handling.
  2. Find out if the business has a complaints procedure and promptly follow it. If they don’t, ask. If the business is a member of a trade association or signed up to a code of conduct, that body may have a separate complaint handling procedure.
  3. It may be helpful to make it clear that you are making a formal complaint and then go on to:

* Identify yourself, quoting your customer number or any other references.

* Tell them briefly why you are unhappy/dissatisfied and what the problem is in   chronological order.

*Include supporting evidence: photographs, surveys, independent test reports, invoices, screen shots. Copies will do. Keep the originals.

*Set out what the impact of the problem on you has been e.g. any financial loss, inconvenience or distress.

*Say how the issue made you feel and what you want done to either put matters right or compensate you for their failings.

*If you are suggesting a monetary figure, you may want to explain how you came by that figure.

*If you are filling in an online complaints form and you have to categorise your submission, make sure you select complaint rather than comment. Complaints should be taken seriously and require action; comments can be ignored!

*Keep good records. Don’t assume you will be sent a copy of your online submission via e-mail when you press send or submit. Be prepared to take a screen shot and note down any reference numbers.

Monitor the businesses actions against those in their complaints handling procedures, remembering to keep copies of all documentation, emails, key actions, notes of conversations, and dates.

If the business fails to resolve the complaint to your satisfaction, there may be other sources of help or avenues for progressing the complaint. For example, the Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman is an independent body that resolves complaints about financial services provided from Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark. It has powers to investigate complaints and can compel financial services providers to pay compensation if it upholds a complaint.

progress your complaint and advise on your rights and all complaints relating to consumer goods and services.

The Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman is a free alternative
to taking a dispute with a financial products and services to court. They are independent, informal and confidential.

The Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman,

PO Box 114,

JE4 9QG

 

Tel: 01534 748610

Email: enquiries@ci-fo.org

https://www.ci-fo.org

 

Additional information:

https://www.jerseyfsc.org/pdf/The-Ombudsman-and-how-to-make-Consumer-Complaints-Nov-2015.pdf

For all other complaints relating to consumer goods or services contact Trading Standards.

Trading Standards,

9-13 Central Market,

St Helier,

JE2 4WL

 

Tel: 01534 448160

Email: tradingstandards@gov.je

www.gov.je/tradingstandards

 


What is Franchising?

February 15, 2018 Consumer Skills No Comments

Franchising, broadly speaking, is a means of running a commercial operation using some or all aspects of another business, including its name, brand and products.

How franchises work

Companies use franchising to widen the reach of their brands, usually into geographical areas that they don’t wish to trade themselves. As the franchisee pays all of the capital costs of setting up the shop and is responsible for the lease and employing the staff, it’s also a very effective and low-cost way for brands to widen their consumer offer at minimal cost to themselves.

The company who grants the licence is called a franchisor. The person who gets the licence to run a business is called the franchisee. The agreement means that the franchisee gets all the elements of the successful franchised business necessary to succeed. This includes everything from branding, products, supplies, designs and even marketing and advertising support.

The support runs for the length of the franchise agreement, which is included in the initial agreement.

The franchisee agrees to pay the franchisor for this privilege. This is usually in one of either two forms. As well as assuming all the set up the costs, the franchisee also pays, either a weekly commission to the franchisor on its sales or alternatively the cost of goods supplied are marked up to provide a higher profit margin for the franchisor (a cost-plus model). The agreements also contain very strict guidelines relating to the operation of the brand which must be adhered to. Failure to achieve brand standards (usually monitored by regular mystery shopper visits), can mean that the franchise is withdrawn.

Pros and cons – a general outline

The most attractive aspect of franchising is that the risk is limited. The business is not a new one but a tried and tested venture that has succeeded elsewhere. This means you do not have to spend a lot of time telling people what the business does because they already know.

The downside is that the franchisor will want to protect his brand and therefore places very strict guidelines on how the brand must to be operated to ensure it conforms to their brand standards.  Obviously, franchisors carry out a very detailed vetting process on any potential new franchise partner. It is also a relatively expensive way of starting in business because you are buying into a proven concept.

If you fancy being your own boss and taking a lot of decisions about how to manage things, you might find you have less freedom than you anticipate because the legal agreement spells out what you can and can’t do.

For the relative safety and protection of a trusted brand, there are certain sacrifices that you have to make.

Franchising is now a flourishing industry boasts nearly 1,000 brands in a multitude of different sectors. Nowadays it is an eclectic mix of businesses encompassing everything from hairdressing to photography, pet care to children’s sports coaching.

In Jersey, we have several franchises in operation offering us well known UK high street brands; the model of franchising gives Jersey business & consumers the opportunity to access brands and products which may not otherwise be available in Jersey.


Your rights in a Sale!

December 18, 2017 Consumer Skills, Money Matters No Comments
One of the biggest myths is that you can’t return faulty goods in a sale. This is simply untrue. Your statutory rights still apply so if your sale goods are faulty or not as described, you are entitled to your money back. There is an exception to this rule. If goods are ‘shop soiled’ and the damage is clearly visible or brought to your attention, you don’t then have a right to return them for that particular fault.
If you want to return sale goods because you have changed your mind, if you bought them on the high street you have no statutory rights therefore have to rely on the shop policy. This may mean they won’t accept sale returns or they may restrict you to exchanges or credit notes.
The situation is different if you purchased sale goods online. In most cases you have cancellation rights, but you will have to be quick as time limits apply. You usually have to pay the postage and packaging for   return. There are some exceptions including perishable or personalised goods. If you are unsure, give Trading Standards a call on 448160.
Finally, sales should be genuine. Traders should not make false claims about savings, have permanent sales or make comparisons to prices that weren’t the last price the goods were on offer at. Whilst there are currently no regulations in Jersey to investigate these sorts of unfair practices, this situation is likely to change. Our advice is follow Martin Lewis’s mantra. Do I need it, can I afford it, will I use it, is it worth it?

Consumer Action is a Powerful Force

November 30, 2017 Consumer Skills No Comments

Consumer Action is a Powerful Force

It’s time to recognise that the Jersey consumer is a powerful force that is coming to the fore, have you joined this wave of change?

Interestingly the vast majority of online consumers are more than happy to vote with a click of their finger if dissatisfied. It would seem that Jersey consumers are now prepared to vote with their feet when in retail shops and gaining a similar experience on price or service.

By flexing your demands and voting with your feet (not just your finger), you too can impact the future strategies of a local business. Remember that if you’re not completely satisfied, you can always find other retail outlets for procure your products or services.

Where to start

We have created a simple toolkit to support you in your purchasing routine:

1 Research:
Many of you will have a vague idea of the likely costs of an item/service, if not, check online so you’re prepared. You make have questions you’d like to ask about a specific product.

2 Price check:
a.If time allows, visit several retail shops to experience the customer service quality and pricing strategy, and/or

b. If you’ve purchased the item or service before – check how it differs now.

3 Customer Service

were you acknowledged by staff and was help offered?

4 Communicate:

Those working in customer service are typically only too willing to help. If you believe that an item/service is positioned above market value ask why. There will be an explanation to balance your opinion. At certain times of the year there maybe sales / promotional offers / added-value offerings, ask when this might be.

5 Inform:

Keep the Jersey Consumer Council informed. Share your experiences with us, your successes in discussing prices, service, changing minds, policies and practices.

We look forward to learning more about your experiences and sharing more successes on:www.jerseyconsumercouncil.org.je – see what we’re up to and join in.


Preventing financial pressure at Christmas

November 30, 2017 Christmas Top Tips, Money Matters No Comments

Preventing financial pressure at Christmas

It’s easy to get carried away spending at Christmas. Here are a few things to consider when Christmas shopping.

Buying out of habit

Always bought for a particular person but don’t even see them much nowadays. Be brave, suggest you both stop. They will probably be relieved.

Buying because they bought you a present

If someone chooses to buy you a present, that’s their decision. Thank them. But it doesn’t mean you have to buy in return.

Buying because you feel obliged to

Your siblings are having children and the family is expanding. You can opt out. Remember those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

Buying out of guilt

Are you trying to make up for something you did or didn’t do? Buying stuff doesn’t help you or the other person. You need to let go of guilt and if you want to make amends, do so in other ways.

You want to be liked or feel the need to tell others how much you have spent on presents. This doesn’t work. You need to uncover why your self-esteem is low & transform it.

Pressure

You feel the need to ‘protect’ your children by buying the same things as their friends. Have honest money conversations. Can you part-contribute & they come up with ideas to make up the difference?

Once you have your list set your budget for each person and stick to it. Get creative and your ‘genius’ ideas flowing.

Christmas is a time of celebration, you don’t want it to be a time when you set yourself up with money headaches for next year.

Michele Ivory

Rapid Transformational Therapist

www.micheleivory.com


Trading Standards credit card warning: online payments where you lose protection

August 30, 2017 Banking, Home life, Money Matters No Comments

A little-known flaw in the Consumer Credit Act may put Jersey shoppers at risk of losing their money if things go wrong.

 

Under Section 75 of the UK Consumer Credit Act, shoppers who make payments between £100 and £30,000 on a credit card can get their money back if the goods turn out to be faulty, not as described or don’t arrive. The UK law makes the retailer and credit card company jointly liable. Jersey consumers usually benefit from this protection due to terms and conditions reflecting the UK Consumer Credit Act.

 

However, a little-known loophole revealed by a MoneySavingExpert means that consumers will only be reimbursed if there is a direct link between the customer, their credit card provider and the supplier. If the payment is processed by a third-party company then the protection under Section 75 does not apply.

 

So, if you bought a concert ticket through an agent on a credit card, you may not be able to get your money back using Section 75 if it doesn’t arrive.

The same may apply if you booked a holiday through a travel agent. However, the travel industry may very well have their own financial protection schemes in place.

 

You may also not be covered for credit card transactions made through online payment platforms, such as PayPal, because it breaks the chain between customer and supplier.  However, if the firm you’re buying from has a “Commercial Entity Agreement” you’ll be able to make a claim under Section 75 even if you use PayPal. PayPal has its own Buyer Protection scheme. This covers online purchases made on eBay and other websites if the item does not arrive or match the seller’s description. Property, vehicles, custom-made items and industrial machinery are among some items that are not guaranteed.

 

Amazon is another firm where Section 75 may not apply. Shoppers who buy items on a credit card from third-party suppliers on the online marketplace will not be covered. If you buy directly from Amazon then you could make a claim.

 

Confused, it is not surprising! Trading Standards offers the following advice:

  • Know who you are buying from and who will take your payment
  • Wherever possible put payments on your credit card
  • If you are entitled to protection, you are still covered even if a small proportion, part payment or deposit was paid using your card
  • When things go wrong, don’t delay. If you don’t have Section 75 protection you may alternative protection through platform buyer protection schemes, but these are often time limited.

 

Free confidential consumer advice is available from Trading Standards on 448162 or email tradingstandards@gov.je. You can also drop in, they are in the Central Market under the clock.

 


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

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.

 


GST and the De-Minimis Waiver

May 19, 2017 Money Matters No Comments

Customs Explain that the De Minimis Waiver is intended to benefit an individual making a single purchase worth under £240 and shipping it to Jersey

All goods are liable to GST on import regardless of value. The de-Minimis waiver under which GST is not charged is not a right but an administrative concession designed to manage the overwhelming numbers of consignments and letter packets that would otherwise have to be charged up. The cost of handling such high volumes of low value goods outweighs the amount that would actually be collected. The de-minimis waiver ministerial decision can be found by clicking https://www.gov.je/government/planningperformance/pages/ministerialdecisions.aspx?docid=0995E584-AA0F-4CA0-96A9-A5BDF532FB64

 

The de-Minimis waiver was intended to benefit an individual making a single purchase worth under £240 and shipping it to Jersey. It was not intended to allow individuals, or indeed businesses, to make several purchases all under £240 from the same supplier on the same day hoping they will arrive separately. The Customs & Immigration Service web page on gov.je https://www.gov.je/TaxesMoney/GST/GSTCustomers/Pages/DeclaringPaying.aspx#anchor-1 clearly states that “If you order multiple items (consignments) that arrive as one shipment, we will treat this as a single delivery.”


Christmas Puddings & Pricewatch

November 14, 2016 Home life, Top tips No Comments

Having found our Mince Pie tasting in 2015 so revealing we decided to put Christmas Puddings to the taste and price test this year. Taste testers helped us from Citizens Advice Jersey, Trading Standards, the Channel Island Competition and Regulatory Authorities and 4insight, a local Market Reserach Company. Our 5 testers (we had two testers from Trading Standards as one was an entrant to the Great British Bake off 2015) each tester could award a maximum of 25 points per pudding; the clear winner was the most expensive of our pudding purchases.

The testers noted that the complexity of microwave cooking such as microwave for 2 minutes, rest for a minute, cook for 40 seconds and then rest again seemed to have benefits when it comes to the final texture. Detailed below are the scores from the ‘blind’ tasting. Now it is your turn to see if you agree with our testers!

Puddings Tested…full results will be published week commencing 28th November in our all island newsletter.

Brand of Christmas Pudding
Coop
Christmas Pudding
Irresistible Rich & Fruity
Marks & Spencer
Classic Recipe Pudding
The Collection Intensely Fruity
Tesco Alliance
Tesco Finest Pudding
Tesco Christmas Pudding
Waitrose
Essential Cider & Sherry
6 Month Matured

Trading Standards & Consumer Council Top Ten for Christmas

November 3, 2016 Christmas Top Tips, Consumer Skills, Home life, Money Matters, Top tips No Comments

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