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Cold calling trader fined for failing to give cancellation rights to consumer

A home improvement trader from Pontypool has been prosecuted by Shared Regulatory Services for failing to provide a consumer with cancellation rights and for providing a misleading address on his business flyers.

March 13th, 2020

Doorstep seller knockingWilliam Bennett pleaded guilty to 2 offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 in respect of gardening work which was carried out at the home of an elderly lady from Cardiff. 

Mr Bennett had cold-called the complainant around Christmas 2018 and again in January 2019 whereupon she agreed to have a tree in her front garden trimmed for £80. Mr Bennett then advised her that she should have the tree cut down and she paid £200 in total. 

The complainant was not provided with the required paperwork and was not told that she had a right to cancel the work if she wished to do so.

Officers from Shared Regulatory Services also discovered that the address in the business’ promotional flyers was misleading as he was not in fact based there.

In mitigation, the defence solicitor advised the court that the defendant had been in the area dropping off leaflets and the complainant had been outside when he handed her a leaflet. They had a discussion about the tree and the fact that it had overgrown roots. He gave her advice about removing the tree and he came back a few weeks later. He did not contact her during this period. 

The court was told that Mr Bennett is a licensed waste carrier and after cutting the tree down he removed it all from the property. He accepted that the paperwork side of his business is lacking as he cannot read or write. Mr Bennett had no previous convictions and he had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

The magistrates fined him £250 per offence giving a total fine of £500. He was also ordered to pay costs of £200 and a victim surcharge of £30. The magistrates made an award of compensation to the complainant in the case of £120. 

Cllr Eddie Williams, Chair of the Joint Committee for Shared Regulatory Services, said:

“This prosecution demonstrates our commitment to tackling traders that are refusing to comply with the law. We have seen other instances where cold calling traders repeatedly return to a consumer’s property with the aim of taking as much money from that person as possible. Providing cancellation rights to a consumer on the doorstep gives that person time to think and to change their mind if they wish.

“We also want to support local, legitimate businesses that do act within the law by giving cancellation notices to customers. This is not a choice for businesses, it is a requirement.”

To report unwanted cold calling activity in your area, please call Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506. Trading Standards are notified of all calls of this nature.