The former owner and director of a kitchen and bathroom fitting business has been fined £7,000 and ordered to pay £1,200 costs for unfair trading practices following a prosecution by Derbyshire County Council.
Andrew Scott, 47, of Concept Interiors (Alfreton) Ltd in Mansfield Road, Alfreton, pleaded guilty to five charges at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ court on Thursday February 4 as the result of an investigation by the county council’s trading standards team.
Scott, of Newstead Abbey Park, Nottinghamshire, admitted four charges of failing to operate in accordance with honest working practices under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and one relating to failure to comply with requirements under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.
The company’s cancellation notice only gave customers seven days to cancel their contract rather than the 14 days imposed by the regulations despite being advised about the error by trading standards officers.
Customers complained the company demanded full payment when kitchen or bathroom units were delivered to their house despite its own contract terms stating the customer was allowed to retain 10% of the order cost until completion.
In some cases the customer was told their new units would not be offloaded from the van and installed unless full payment was made. On one occasion the existing units had already been removed giving the customer no choice but to pay on delivery.
Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Communities Councillor Dave Allen said: “These customers ordered their new kitchens and bathrooms from a local firm in good faith but were treated in the most underhand way, having no choice but to pay up front and only a week to change their minds about what for most people is a very significant purchase.
“We’re really pleased with this result which sends a clear message to companies like this and other traders that we will not tolerate unfair trading practices and will always take legal action.
“We would always encourage residents to use one of our Trusted Traders who agree to do a good job at a fair price and commit to providing good customer service.
“They’re checked out by our trading standards team before they’re allowed to join up to the scheme which includes a wide range of businesses including bathroom and kitchen fitters.”
Scott had received advice from county council trading standards officers in relation to his trading practices since 2012.
Derbyshire County Council’s Trusted Trader scheme now has more than 1,200 members which can be searched at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/tt.