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.


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

Registering for a manufacturer’s free warranty or guarantee

May 11, 2016 Consumer Skills, Home life No Comments

You are in a rush to get your new gadget or kitchen appliance out of the packaging.

You may have seen a warranty or guarantee card fall out of the box. What exactly is it for and should you fill it in? Trading Standards has provided answers to these questions.

What is the card for?

The card enables you to register for a free warranty (or guarantee) which adds to your legal rights. It may be a condition to fill in and return the card before the warranty becomes valid.

 

Do I need this additional free warranty?

It may be easier to claim on the free warranty for a repair or replacement if something has gone wrong. Under the law, after 6 months you have to prove you didn’t cause the problem, which can be tricky. It is also a good backup if the retailer has closed or gone out of business or you bought the goods out of the Island.

 

Have I still got a manufacturer’s warranty if I didn’t fill out and return the card?

It depends. Get in touch with the manufacturer. They may still accept your registration and you may be able to do this online.

 

Who can claim?

It is usually just the person who purchased the item who can make a claim. Check the small print. Some warranties extend to other people, referred to as ‘third party rights’.

 

Are there other limitations?

Check the terms and conditions. There will be strict time limits when the warranty expires. Find out who is responsible for the postage and packaging if goods need to be sent away for repair.

 

Are there other benefits of registration?

The manufacturer will have your contact details if your goods are then subject to a safety notice or recall.

 

What about extended warranties?

Take care when filling out warranty or guarantee registration cards to ensure you are only registering for a free warranty or guarantee. Don’t confuse it with extended warranties or guarantees which are similar to insurance policies. These cost money. You should think carefully about the benefit of buying an extended warranty against the value of the goods, the risk of them breaking down and always shop around as you may be able to purchase a multiple product policy for less money.

 

Do I have any protection without a manufacturer’s warranty?

Yes. Under Jersey law you are protected if goods are faulty if they are not of satisfactory quality or fit to do the job intended. You may also have additional protection if the goods were over £100 and you paid in full or part payment on a credit card.

 

For more advice, contact Trading Standards on 448160 or tradingstandards@gov.je


Telco Contracts – when does ‘Fixed Mean Fixed’?

March 17, 2016 Telecommunications No Comments

Telco Contracts – when does ‘Fixed Mean Fixed’?

When you sign up for a mobile phone, telephone or broadband contract you know you’re going to be committing to a fixed length contract, usually 12, 18 or 24 months.

You also know that the terms of that contract – including how much you pay for it – should be fixed over that period. The consumer is tied into that contract unless they pay an early termination charge (“ETC”) to leave before the end of the minimum contract period.

Remember that the Telco providers’ terms and conditions usually allow for price increases and variations to your contract during this term.

Thanks to a licensing condition called ‘fixed-means-fixed’ imposed by the regulator in April 2014, if your provider decides to increase prices part way through your fixed term contract, you should be given two calendar months’ written notice before the price rise and an option to end the contract penalty free. For example, if the amount of data included in your contract is reduced, you may end up paying more than originally agreed. As a result of change to licence conditions, you can exit the contract without penalty if the provider increases the cost of their deal.

This right only relates to changes to products within the list of services paid for by the recurring fee / subscription charge. If your deal includes a number of free services, the key point will be whether those were included in the original offer. If they were not, even if they were free originally, the operator is able to introduce a charge for them in future. It also does not apply other ‘out of bundle’ prices such roaming charges.

Please be aware that the protection afforded to you under ‘fixed-means-fixed’ only covers price increases ‘in-bundle’. In other words, your monthly allowances.

‘Out of bundle’ costs, being the amount you pay for exceeding your monthly allowances or new charges introduced for something which was originally free are likely to not be caught by this protection.

Our advice is to make sure you fully understand what is ‘in’ or ‘out of bundle’ when you sign up to a new contract and be aware that prices can change.

TelCoWatch