Trading Standards - Consumer Advice

Introduction

Isle of Wight Council Trading Standards Service has a wide-ranging role in ensuring fair trading on the Island, by supporting the county’s businesses and protecting consumers. This helps to provide a level playing field for all and allows consumers to have confidence in the local economy. We also have responsibilities concerning the health and welfare of livestock and plans are in place to prevent and contain disease outbreaks.

We receive thousands of complaints and enquiries every year so we need to prioritise the most serious cases and use the others to help us to plan our prevention work as we are not able to investigate every complaint individually. All consumer complaints MUST be made via our partner organisation the Citizens Advice Consumer Help Line (03454 04 05 06). We then use this intelligence to direct our enforcement work. We may not take direct action with respect to your individual complaint. We look at a number of issues to help us to decide which cases we investigate. For example:

  • Vulnerability of the victim.
  • Amount of money involved and number of customers or businesses affected.
  • Risk to safety.
  • Significant breaches of animal health and welfare legislation with a risk of disease outbreak or affecting farm animals.
  • Failure to comply with a statutory notice, written advice or other formal commitment to comply with the law.
  • Complaints that relate to organised criminal activity such as doorstep crime.

We also need to be sure that we can get enough evidence to use in court and that the investigation would be in the public interest.

Consumers have rights and often if a trader breaks those rights, for example, through providing faulty goods or substandard services the consumer is owed compensation. We do not obtain this compensation on your behalf, however by contacting our partner organization Citizens Advice Consumer Help Line you will be given advice and assistance on how to obtain redress for yourself.

After you have made a complaint or provided information to Citizens Advice we will generally only contact you if we need further information. We do not usually provide feedback, except where officers intend to take formal action on the basis of an individual complaint.

Many complaints about traders are civil matters, for example failing to provide redress when faulty goods are sold. When a breach of the law is civil it does not necessarily mean that the trader has also committed a criminal offence. However, you may well be able to take your own action. If you contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Help Line they will give you advice on what action you can take.

We inspect various types of businesses to ensure they’re trading fairly, based on risk ratings and intelligence gathered from a variety of sources. We are also ready to respond rapidly to emerging situations, such as rogue traders and doorstep crime. If we find a problem, there are various options open for us to take, such as offering advice and a timescale for a trader to come into compliance with the law, confiscating illegal goods, or launching criminal proceedings.