Consumeradvice

Problems with Goods and Services

Issues with goods

When you buy a dog, cat or any other type of pet or animal from a trader the Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that they should be;

  • In good health and free from any illness, hereditary or otherwise
  • Had all appropriate vaccinations with relevant paperwork to prove this
  • Come with any required documents (horse passport)
  • As described, any information provided about breed or pedigree should be accurate
  • Fit for purpose, for example if you ask for a dog that’s good with children or other animals but you find it to be aggressive around both then you can argue it’s not fit for purpose.

If shortly after buying a pet, you discover it has an illness or it dies you will have the same rights as you will have the same rights against the trader as you would for any other item bought.

Within the first 30 days

If it’s been 30 days or less since you bought the animal and it has taken ill or died then you can ask the trader to refund you in full, this is called your short term right to reject. You may have to prove that the animal was ill when it was sold to you.

You should be refunded within 14 days of the goods of returning the animal to the trader or informing them that it has died. Your refund should be by the same method that you paid for example if you paid in cash then you should normally expect a cash refund.  

After the first 30 days

You can also ask the trader to replace the animal, they should do this within a reasonable period of time and without causing you any significant inconvenience. If it’s not possible for them offer you another animal, then you can decide to keep the original animal and ask for a discount or return it to the trader for a refund.

Can I ask for a refund?

You’re only required to give the trader one opportunity to replace the animal. If this is not possible of you discover that there is an issue with the replacement animal then you can ask the trader to take it back and refund you, this is called your final right to reject.  

It’s important to note that if you’ve had the animal for more than 6 months then the trader may be entitled to offer only a partial refund.  You should be refunded within 14 days of the animal being returned to the trader and this should be by the same method that you paid.  

If you have any concerns for the welfare of animals that are being sold, you can report this to the Scottish SPCA

Veterinarian Costs

If you’ve incurred additional costs for the care of a sick animal that was sold to you then you could ask the trader to reimburse these costs also.

What should I do next?

If you haven’t already done so then you should try to speak with the trader about your problem to see if you can to come to an agreement. You can then follow this up with a more formal letter of complaint. It’s best to send this by signed for mail which will allow you to check that it’s been received, alternatively you could send an email with a read receipt. You should also give the trader a reasonable timescale to reply.

When you buy goods from a private individual, they must match the seller’s description. These are your rights under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and include any description seen in an advertisement, online messages and any verbal description given by the seller.

If the goods bought don’t match the seller’s description, then you may have the right to return them to the seller for a full refund although this may require that you have noticed the issue quickly and not used the goods.

If you have been using the goods and not noticed the issue until later, then it might be seen that you’ve accepted the goods in their current condition. At this point can ask the seller to cover the cost of any repairs that are needed or refund the difference in value between what you paid and what the goods are worth.

It will fall to you as the buyer to prove that the goods don’t match the sellers description which could be difficult if there was only verbal discussions between them and yourself and you have  no physical proof of how the goods were described.

Some examples

You buy a used car which is described as having 50,000 miles on the clock but you later discover that the  car has been clocked had the true mileage was 80,000 miles.  This could mean the car is worth less than what you paid for it.

What should I do next?

If you haven’t already done so then you should try to speak with the seller about your problem to see if you can to come to an agreement. You can then follow this up with a more formal letter of complaint. It’s best to send this by signed for mail which will allow you to check that it’s been received, alternatively you could send an email with a read receipt. You should also give the seller a  reasonable timescale to reply.

When you purchase goods from a trader, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that they should be of satisfactory quality. This means that there should be no faults or damage and the goods should be durable.

The goods should also be the same as any sample or model that you were shown, match the sellers description and be fit for any purpose that you made known to the trader for example, if you were sold a car that is supposed to be able to tow a boat, but the connection doesn’t work properly then you could argue that the car is not fit for purpose.

Within the first 30 days

If it’s been 30 days or less since you bought the goods and you don’t believe they were of satisfactory quality at the time, then you could be entitled to return them to the trader for a full refund, this is called your short term right to reject. You may have to prove that the goods weren’t of satisfactory quality at them time of sale.

You should be refunded within 14 days of the goods being returned to the trader and this should be by the same method that you paid for example if you paid in cash then you should normally expect a cash refund.  

After the first 30 days

You can also ask the trader to repair the goods or provide you with a like for like replacement, they should do this within a reasonable period of time and without causing you any significant inconvenience. If it’s not possible for the trader to repair or replace the goods, then you can decide to keep them and ask for a discount or return them to the trader for a refund.

If you ask the trader for a repair or replacement within the first 6 months of purchasing the goods, the it falls to the trader to prove they were not faulty when sold to you after this 6-month period it falls to the you to prove otherwise.

Can I ask for a refund?

You’re only required to give the trader one opportunity to repair or replace the goods. If a repair by the trader fails or you discover that the replacement item is also faulty then you can decide whether to give the trader another opportunity to repair or replacement the goods or whether to return them for a refund, this is called your final right to reject.  

It’s important to note that if you’ve had the goods for more than 6 months or a vehicle for more than 30 days then the trader may be entitled to offer only a partial refund to account for the use and wear and tear.  You should be refunded within 14 days of the goods being returned to the trader and this should be by the same method that you paid.  

What should I do next?

If you haven’t already done so then you should try to speak with the trader about your problem to see if you can to come to an agreement. You can then follow this up with a more formal letter of complaint. It’s best to send this by signed for mail which will allow you to check that it’s been received, alternatively you could send an email with a read receipt. You should also give the trader a reasonable timescale to reply.

Digital content such as a mobile phone app or a downloaded computer game or software is covered under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. This states that digital content should be:

  • Of satisfactory quality (free from faults)
  • Fit for the purpose made known (for example if you asked the trader for software compatible with a particular device, then find out its not compatible)
  • Match the trader’s description
  • Be the traders to supply or they should have permission to supply the content

What am I entitled to?

If you believe the content to be faulty when purchased, then you can ask the trader to repair or replace if it which they should do within a reasonable period of time.

If it’s not possible for the trader to repair or replace the content or it wasn’t the theirs to sell then you may be entitled to a full or partial refund to account for use.

If you ask the trader for a repair or replacement within the first 6 months of purchasing the goods, it then falls to the trader to prove they were not faulty when they were sold to you. After this 6-month period it falls to the you to prove otherwise.

If you purchase or receive free digital content from a trader and it causes damage to your device or any other digital content that you own, then you can ask the trader to repair the damage for free and within a reasonable period of time. If it’s not possible for the trader to repair the damage, then you may be entitled to claim damages under Scottish Common Law.

What should I do next?

If you haven’t already done so then you should try to speak with the trader about your problem to see if you can to come to an agreement. You can then follow this up with a more formal letter of complaint. It’s best to send this by signed for mail which will allow you to check that it’s been received, alternatively you could send an email with a read receipt. You should also give the trader a reasonable timescale to reply.

When you place an order or buy an item and you are in a shop or on the traders’ premises at the time, the law considers that you will have had the opportunity to inspect the goods or ask any relevant questions to confirm that they are suitable for your needs. It’s for this reason that the law doesn’t give you an automatic cooling off period or the right to return goods.

You may however notice that some traders allow you to return goods to the store for an exchange or refund or that they give you a cooling off period in which you can cancel. This is the trader’s own policy and is not a legal requirement. Even if the trader has no policy for returns or cancellation you should still speak with them if you’ve changed your mind as you may still be able to negotiate.

It’s generally best to check what the trader’s policy is before agreeing to the sale.

Warranties are supplied in addition to the rights you are given by law (statutory rights) against a trader.

There is no obligation for you to make a claim under a warranty, but should you decide to do so, then you should read through the warranty’s terms and conditions as these outline what’s covered and how to make a claim.

As in the UK your statutory rights last for up to 5 years in Scotland and 6 years in England, there is no legal requirement for a warranty to be supplied or for it to last a specific number of years.

When you buy food in store or order a meal in a restaurant the Consumer Rights Act 2015 says that the foods must be as the trader described it, this means it must match the description on the packaging or the menu. If you believe that you have been sold food or served a meal which doesn’t match the description or labelling, then you should report this to the trader as soon as possible and ask for a refund.
Allergens
EU regulations state that food businesses must provide certain information under the Allergen Information rules which include;

  • making sure all staff are trained on food allergens
  • adequate handling of food allergens and prevention of cross contamination
  • provide customers with allergen information for pre-packed and non-prepacked food or drink

if you’ve had an allergic reaction due to incorrect allergen information being provided by a trader you should:

  • seek medical advice as soon as possible
  • report the issue to the trader
  • ask the trader for a refund

Traders breaching the Allergen Information rules should be reported to the Food Standards Agency https://www.food.gov.uk/. You can also report them to Trading Standards.

It’s important to know what your rights are if you want to buy something only to be told that the price on the label or advert was wrong and it is going to cost more than you expected.
In store
If you’re in a store and you see an item priced on the shelf but when you get to the till you’re told that this price is wrong and the item costs more. There is unfortunately no legal requirement for the trader to sell you the item for the lesser price. This is the same if you’ve seen an item advertised at lower price than what the store is selling.
Online
When you place an order online for goods your rights will depend on whether you have a contract with the trader. This is usually determined by the trader’s terms and conditions which may state that a contract is not in place until;

  • You have received an email confirming acceptance of your order
  • The goods have been dispatched

If a contract is not yet in place, then any order that you place can be cancelled by the trader.
If a contract is in place, then the trader will not usually be able to cancel the order however, if the incorrect pricing was a genuine mistake and something that you should have been easily noticeable to you, for example a new washing machine being sold for £59, then the trader could still be entitled to cancel the order.
Traders who fail to fix incorrect pricing on items or regularly price items incorrectly could be seen as attempting to mislead the public.

When you purchase a car or vehicle from a trader, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that it should be of satisfactory quality. This means it should be in the condition expected of a car of its age and the price you paid (in the case of a used vehicle), this would include it having all relevant documents such as the log book and the service history or MOT documents.
The vehicle should also be the same as any sample or model that you were shown, match the sellers description and be fit for any purpose that you made known to the trader for example, if you asked for a car that can tow a boat, but the connection doesn’t work properly then you could argue that the car is not fit for purpose.

Within the first 30 days

If it’s been 30 days or less since you bought the vehicle and you don’t believe the it was of satisfactory quality at the time, then you could be entitled to return it to the trader for a full refund, this is called your short term right to reject. You may have to prove that the vehicle wasn’t of satisfactory quality at them time of sale.
You should be refunded within 14 days of the vehicle being returned to the trader and this should be by the same method that you paid for example if you paid in cash then you should normally expect a cash refund.  

After the first 30 days

You can also ask the trader to repair the vehicle or provide you with a like for like replacement, they should do this within a reasonable period of time and without causing you any significant inconvenience. If it’s not possible for the trader to repair or replace the vehicle, then you can decide to keep it and ask for a discount or return it to the trader for a refund.
If you ask the trader for a repair or replacement within the first 6 months of purchasing the vehicle, the it falls to the trader to prove they it was not faulty when sold to you after this 6-month period it falls to the you to prove otherwise.

Can I ask for a refund?

You’re only required to give the trader one opportunity to repair or replace the vehicle. If a repair by the trader fails or you discover that the replacement vehicle is also faulty then you can decide whether to give the trader another opportunity to repair or replacement the vehicle or whether to return it for a refund, this is called your final right to reject.  
You should be refunded within 14 days of the vehicle being returned to the trader and this should be by the same method that you paid.  

It’s important to note that if you’ve had the vehicle for more than 30 days then the trader may be entitled to offer only a partial refund to account for any use and wear and tear. 

What if part exchanged my old vehicle?

Then you are entitled to get it back and if the trader has already sold it on then your entitled to the amount they valued it at when you originally entered the agreement.

What if the car is on a Hire Purchase or PCP agreement?

The finance company bought the car from the dealership on your behalf. This means that your rights above are against the finance company not the dealership also until you’ve paid the finance in full the legal owner of the car is the finance company.

What should I do next?

If you haven’t already done so then you should try to speak with the trader about your problem to see if you can to come to an agreement. You can then follow this up with a more formal letter of complaint. It’s best to send this by signed for mail which will allow you to check that it’s been received, alternatively you could send an email with a read receipt. You should also give the trader a reasonable timescale to reply.

 

If you’ve bought a used car from a private seller or a trader, the seller should always have what is known as ‘legal title’ – essentially, the seller should have the legal right to sell the goods.
If you have discovered that the car has outstanding finance attached to it, it is likely that one of the following scenarios may apply:

  • The vehicle may have been sold without legal title
  • The seller of the car, with intention to do so, has not fully paid off any outstanding finance to assume ownership or this process has been delayed with the finance company.

You may be able to consider the following points:

  • If you have acted in good faith and were genuinely unaware of the outstanding finance, you may wish to present an argument to the finance company if approached, that you are an innocent purchaser of the vehicle and feel that you have ‘innocent title’ to the car. You may also wish to contact the seller to find out if they have settled the finance or are in the process of doing so. (If possible, try and getting written confirmation of this.)
  • If a finance company is looking to take the car back, or seeking payment of outstanding finance, you may wish to suggest that any debt be pursued against the individual responsible (the debtor) and not you as an innocent purchaser.
  • You may have rights against the seller of the vehicle, whether a business or private seller, if they did not have the legal right to sell the car to you. (Cars with outstanding finance are usually owned by the finance company so they cannot be legally sold by a business or private seller.)

While it’s up to the finance company to prove that you don’t have good title, you may wish to contact them and explain your situation. It may be best to do this at your earliest convenience and to also follow it up in writing. Remember to include details of the seller, the date you bought it and any proof of purchase you might have. If you have the original advert for the car then you could include a copy of this too.

What if they take the car away?

If you believe that you have good title to the car, you should contact the finance company first and complain via their formal complaint’s procedure. If you have exhausted the finance company’s complaints process, your next step would be to contact the Financial Ombudsman Service who may look at your complaint further.
If the car has been taken away by the finance company, then you should contact the seller as soon as possible, ensuring that you make it clear that you didn’t feel they had the right to sell you the car. You may be able to ask for a refund and you may be able to request any additional losses that you might have incurred – if you can support this claim with evidence.
It’s always advisable to complain in writing and to send it by signed for mail as this will allow you to track the postage to confirm that it’s been received. Alternatively, you could send an email requesting a read receipt allowing the seller a reasonable timescale to reply.

 

With so much information being displayed on food labels it can be difficult to know what you should be looking for and what out of date food really means.
There are 4 different dates that can be found on food labels, sell by and display until dates are purely for use of the staff in store to keep track of stock rotation. The dates that you should look out for are best before and use by and its important to know the difference between them.

Best before – After the best before date food may start to lose some of its flavour or texture but may still be safe to eat. As long as the food is still safe to eat then it’s not offence for the trader to sell it, they should however make it clear that the best before date has passed.
Foods that will usually have a best before date include baked goods (bread), tinned and frozen food.

Use by – After its past it’s use by date the food can “go off” quickly and if eaten could cause you to become ill. As the foods could be unsafe, it’s an offence for a trader to sell food that’s past its use by date.

Foods that will usually have a use by date are those that contain meat and fish products.

Due to the safety issue, traders who sell food past their use by date should be reported to Trading Standards, you can find out how to do this here.

If you have bought food that was past its use by date then you are entitled to return it to the trader for a full refund. 

It is best to do this as soon as possible, and to have your receipt with you (to prove the date of purchase).

What should I do next? 

If you haven’t already done so then you should try to speak with the trader about your problem to see if you can to come to an agreement. You can then follow this up with a more formal letter of complaint. It’s best to send this by signed for mail which will allow you to check that it’s been received, alternatively you could send an email with a read receipt. You should also give the trader a reasonable timescale to reply.

If you’ve bought an item from a trader that you discover to be fake or counterfeit, then you can argue under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 that the goods are not as the trader described them.


If you are within the first 30 days of purchasing the goods then you can return them to the trader for a full refund, this is called your short term right to reject.


After the first 30 days you can ask the trader to replace the goods with those that are not fake. If it’s not possible for the trader to do this, then you’ll be entitled to either a full refund or a partial refund if it’s been more than 6 months since the purchase was made, this is to account for usage.
You should be refunded within 14 days of returning the goods back to the trader and this should be by the same method that you paid.
Selling counterfeit goods is a criminal offence and for certain products such as cosmetics there can be safety concerns. If you believe that you have purchased a counterfeit item then it’s advisable to have this reported to Trading Standards, click here to find out how to do this.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that a when you buy something from a trader that it must be the traders to sell (this is called holding title to the goods) or they must have permission to sell the goods on the behalf of the owner.

If you’ve purchased goods and you believe they weren’t the traders to sell or they had the owner’s permission to do so, and you know who the rightful owner is then you should try to return the goods to them otherwise you should hand them in to the Police.

If you’ve purchase goods and believe them to be stolen, then you should stop using them and hand them in to the police and obtain a crime reference number.  if you fail to do this then you could be arrested for handling stolen goods.

Once you have done this you should contact the trader providing a crime reference number or other evidence to show that they are no longer in your possession and ask for full refund. 

What should I do next?

If you haven’t already done so then you should try to speak with the trader about your problem to see if you can to come to an agreement. You can then follow this up with a more formal letter of complaint. It’s best to send this by signed for mail which will allow you to check that it’s been received, alternatively you could send an email with a read receipt. You should also give the trader a reasonable timescale to reply.

When you purchase food whether it’s from a shop or a café or restaurant the Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that the food should be of satisfactory quality and safe to eat. If you find a foreign body in your food or after eating, you become ill because the food wasn’t of satisfactory quality then you can pursue the trader for damages under Scottish Common Law.

What should I do?

If you are concerned that you have food poisoning after eating contaminated food, you should:

Seek medical assistance; in the first instance you should contact NHS 24 giving them detailing your symptoms, https://www.nhs24.scot/

You should contact the trader as soon as possible to report the issue and follow this with a formal letter of complaint with a request for damages.

Any instances of food poisoning or foreign bodies in food should be reported to the Food standards agency, it may useful to keep any foreign body, packaging with the batch number or leftover food in the fridge or freezer if possible (in case its wanted for testing).

You can also report this matter to Trading Standards, click here to find out how to do this.

 

 

When you place an order with a trader online or by telephone the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, states that the trader is responsible for the goods until they have been delivered to you or someone that you have asked them to be delivered to. If the parcel hasn’t been delivered, you should contact the trader so that they can chase this with the courier. If the courier claims to have delivered the parcel then the trader will either have to prove that you received it, resend the goods or refund you. 


It’s important to check the trader’s terms and conditions when placing an order as these will sometimes state that goods may be left with a neighbour or in a safe place such as a porch. If you’ve agreed to these terms and conditions, then it could be difficult to argue that the trader is responsible if the parcel goes missing after delivery.

What should I do next?

If you haven’t already done so then you should try to speak with the trader about your problem to see if you can to come to an agreement. You can then follow this up with a more formal letter of complaint. It’s best to send this by signed for mail which will allow you to check that it’s been received, alternatively you could send an email with a read receipt. You should also give the trader a reasonable timescale to reply.

When buying goods from a trader either online, by telephone or in your home, unless the trader specifies a timescale or date for delivery then you should expect the goods to be delivered to you within 30 days of the order being placed.


If you haven’t received delivery within 30 days, then you are entitled to cancel the order and be fully refunded. You should be refunded within 14 days of cancelling and using the same method of payment.

What should I do next?

If you haven’t already done so then you should try to speak with the trader about your problem to see if you can to come to an agreement. You can then follow this up with a more formal letter of complaint. It’s best to send this by signed for mail which will allow you to check that it’s been received, alternatively you could send an email with a read receipt. You should also give the trader a reasonable timescale to reply.

What are my rights?

When you buy goods from a trader either online, by telephone or in your home, you have a 14-day period (starting from the day after delivery) in which to send the goods back to the trader for a full refund including any standard postage costs. This means that if you have paid for next day delivery you will only be refunded the cost of the traders’ standard postage.

There are some purchases were the trader does not have to give you the right to return them. Some examples of this are;

  • items that have been made to order or personalised
  • food items with a short shelf life
  • earrings or underwear were there could an issue of hygiene
  • DVDs or computer games and software that you have removed from the sealed packaging.

Who should pay the return costs?

It will fall to you to pay for returning any unwanted goods unless the traders terms and conditions state that they will cover the cost. When returning the goods to the trader, it is best to do this by signed for mail, so you track its delivery.

Items don’t have to be returned in the original packaging, if the terms and conditions state that original packaging must be used then this may be considered an “unfair contract term”. Items should however be packaged carefully as any damage caused could affect your refund. It may also affect your refund if the value of the items has been reduced for example a piece of clothing that you’ve worn or damaged.

Once you have returned the goods and the trader has received them, they have 14 days to refund you and this should be by the same method you used to pay them.

What should I do next?

If you haven’t already done so then you should try to speak with the trader about your problem to see if you can to come to an agreement. You can then follow this up with a more formal letter of complaint. It’s best to send this by signed for mail which will allow you to check that it’s been received, alternatively you could send an email with a read receipt. You should also give the trader a reasonable timescale to reply.

When you receive goods from a trader that you didn’t order these are known as unsolicited goods, if the trader then sends you a demand for payment this could be considered an unfair business practice and could be a criminal offence.

If you’ve been sent goods that you didn’t order, then you are under no obligation to pay for them although we suggest that you attempt to contact the trader and arrange a suitable time for the goods to be collected.

What should I do next?

If you haven’t already done so then you should try to speak with the trader about your problem to see if you can to come to an agreement. You can then follow this up with a more formal letter of complaint. It’s best to send this by signed for mail which will allow you to check that it’s been received, alternatively you could send an email with a read receipt. You should also give the trader a reasonable timescale to reply.

Issues with Services

When you agree to pay a trader for goods or services you are entering into a contract. Each contract that you enter will have its own set of terms and conditions which usually include details of the goods or services being provided and the timescales in which they will be provided.

If you feel that the trader is taking too long to provide the goods or services, or the trader has surpassed the agreed completion date, then you have options.

What should I do?

You should set the trader a reasonable deadline to complete the work in a formal letter, known as ‘making time of the essence’.

It is advisable to send any request in writing and by signed for mail, keeping a letter copy for your own records. By sending the letter via tracked mail, you can prove it was delivered to the trader.

I’ve set a firm deadline in writing, but the work is still not complete

If the trader fails to meet the deadline you have given, then you could hold the trader in breach of your contract using the evidence that you have now collated.

This may allow you to seek a claim for a full refund in the form of damages if the work has not started. You may also be entitled to ask the trader to cover any additional costs that you have incurred as a result of the breach.

When taking a pet to the vet for some treatment, this is considered a professional service in the eyes of consumer legislation.

As with any professional service, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 requires that the service you receive be provided with reasonable care and skill.

If you’re unhappy with the level service or the treatment that your pet has received and you can prove that is has been substandard with evidence, then you may be able to present the argument that the vet has not used the required level of reasonable care and skill by law.

In the first instance, and if it is appropriate to do so, you can go back and ask them to repeat the service for free to rectify the situation.  If it’s not possible for the service to be repeated, then you could ask for a partial refund with consideration towards the level of service you ultimately received.

You may also be able to ask the vet service to cover any additional costs that you may have incurred as a result of any substandard service received, provided you can provide evidence of these losses and have taken steps to keep them to a minimal.

If the unfortunate were to happen and you lost your pet as a result of the treatment provided, then under the Scottish Common Law you may be entitled to make a claim for damages in the form of a monetary amount, however, we can appreciate that it would be difficult to value exactly what that claim would be for.

If you are thinking about raising a formal complaint, we would suggest doing it by formal letter and signed for post, or, you could send an email requesting a read receipt from the intended recipient as evidence.

I want to report a vet to a trade body for that industry

You may wish to highlight your experience to one of the following trade bodies:

Veterinary Client Mediation Service (this is a voluntary scheme so the vet will have to be a member)

Website: https://www.vetmediation.co.uk/

Tel: 0345 040 5834

Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

Website: https://www.rcvs.org.uk/home/

Tel: 0207 222 2001

When you hire a trader to carry out work on your property, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that the trader should carry out that work using the reasonable care and skill.

A job completed with reasonable care and skill is effectively a job completed to the level of care and skill expected of a competent trader within their profession.

If you believe the level of service you have received is in question and you can prove this with evidence, then you may be able to hold the trader in breach of the above legislation. You may be able to pursue one of the following:

Repeat Performance

A request for the trader to come back to the property to fix any issues you have highlighted, for free and within a reasonable timescale as to prevent causing significant inconvenience.

Price Reduction

If you’ve given the trader the opportunity to put things rights and they’ve refused, failed to do so within a reasonable timescale or they’ve been unable to complete the work to acceptable standard, then you can ask the trader to deduct an appropriate amount of money from the total cost of the work using any evidence you may have of your losses.

Consequential Loss

If you’ve incurred any additional costs as a result of the work carried out or you have had to arrange  another trader to complete the work, then you might be entitled to ask the trader to cover your losses provided you can demonstrate that you acted reasonably and have supporting evidence of the substandard work and losses incurred.

What should I do next?

If you haven’t already done so then you should raise your concerns with the trader try and come to an amicable agreement on a resolution. If verbal discussions have been unsuccessful, we would suggest that you follow this up with a more formal letter of complaint. It’s best to send this by signed for mail which will allow you to check that it’s been received, alternatively you could send any formal complaint by signed for mail to allow for tracking or via an email with a read receipt requested. You should also give the trader a reasonable timescale to reply.

I think the work may be unsafe

If you’re concerned that the work carried out by the trader might be unsafe or pose an immediate risk to safety then you should take immediate steps to try and ensure the safety of you and others, whilst trying to mitigate any loss of property contents.

If you have safety concern with a gas installation or you can smell gas then evacuate the property and call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999.

If you have an immediate concern about electrical work, if possible and safe to do so, turn off your power and contact a qualified electrician.

To report any dangerous building or structure risk you should contact your local council’s planning department or building control at your earliest convenience.

What are my rights?

When you form a contract with a trader to provide you with a service, your right to cancel the agreement will depend on where the order was placed and when.

On the trader’s premises – If you were on the trader’s premises at the time you placed the order then you will have no automatic legal right to cancel unless the company has a policy that allows you to do so. If the trader has a policy, you should always check it fully just to be sure. In the absence of a cancellation policy and any legal right to terminate agreement, you may have to rely on the good will of the trader by detailing your reasons for cancelling. 

Not on the trader’s premises – If you placed the order with the trader online, by telephone or whilst they were in your home, then you may have rights under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. T

Dependent on what you have contracted for, this legislation gives you a required 14-day ‘cooling off’ period in which you can cancel the service at no penalty provided you haven’t waived this right by signing a form for a service to begin within the 14 day window.

Please note that there are some exemptions to this regulation; and not all contracts can be cancelled dependent on their nature. Some examples of exempt contracts include:

  • A service costing £42 or less
  • The booking of transport or accommodation
  • The hire of premises for a specific date (e.g. hall booked for a party)
  • Emergency services or call outs (e.g. plumber to fix an immediate leak or locksmith)
  • If the trader asked you waive your right to cancel so that the service could start within the cooling off period

How should I cancel?

In most cases a trader will have provided you with paperwork that details your opportunity to cancel and the instructions to do so. (If you have not received such paperwork by post or in email format, let us know as this may constitute an unfair business practice)

You should send any cancellation request by formal post and by using signed for mail, this will help you prove when it was sent and when it was received.

When contracting with a trader to provide a service, the agreements on a final price can differ. Some tradesmen may offer an estimate at the beginning of the job, whilst others may have agreed a set price with you based on the specifications of your work.

If you have been given an estimate and no fixed agreed cost, it’s important to note that the price of your contract can vary from the initial estimate and it would be perfectly legal for it to do so. This is because an estimation is just that, an estimate. (However, any estimate should not be totally misleading, let us know if you believe that to have been the case)

If you have agreed on a fixed price before the service starts, this would represent a legally binding agreement between you and the trader. And you should pay no more than agreed. Proof of such an agreement on paperwork signed by both parties would be advantageous as evidence. (If your trader didn’t provide you with any paperwork and your agreement was made at your home or by telephone, let us know, as this may indicate an unfair business practice).

What if no formal price was agreed?

If no price for work has been agreed, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that the final price invoiced should be reasonable.

If you feel the price the trader is charging isn’t reasonable than you could use evidence of other interpretations of the cost for the same work and ask them to reduce the bill considering the difference. It’s usually best to obtain estimates from two or three similar traders which you can use as a starting point in your negotiations.

What should I do next?

If you haven’t already done so then you should always begin by raising your concerns with a trader to see if you can to come to an agreement. If you have been unable to resolve matters or just want to make things more formal, then you should consider a formal letter of complaint. We would suggest sending your complaint by signed for mail which will allow you to check that it’s been received, or, alternatively, you could send an email seeking a read receipt.

When you employ a trader to provide a service, then under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the trader should perform that service using the reasonable care and skill that would be expected of a competent trader within their profession. The more qualified the trader, the greater level of care and skill that would be expected in the scenario.

What can I do if I suspect the service to be substandard?

A free repeat performance to resolve the situation

If you feel that the trader has failed to use reasonable care and skill and if need be, you can prove this, then you can ask the trader to put things right by returning free of charge.

For example, if a boiler has been installed incorrectly owing to substandard work, then you could ask the trader to come back and reinstall it properly under the above legislation.  Alternatively, as another example, in the case of a dirty hotel room, you could ask to be moved to another room or for the room in question to be cleaned free of charge

Price Reduction

If you have given the trader an opportunity to put things rights and they have refused or been unable to do so, then you may instead be able to seek a price reduction. This could be reflective of the value of the work completed thus far and the cost to complete it whilst referring to third party valuations of the work and standard.

What if I have suffered additional consequential loss?

Under the Scottish common law principle of loss, you may be able to seek any additional costs provided you can prove that they have been incurred as a result of a substandard service and that you have restricted those losses where possible. In such a situation, it would be advantageous to have evidence supporting the claim that work had been substandard and evidence that the losses had been incurred as a result of that level of work.

If you are looking to hire another trader, then we would suggest obtaining quotes from two or three traders so that you can show that the amount you are looking to claim is reasonable and fair based on market research.

What should I do next?

If you haven’t already done so then you should highlight your concerns to the trader to see if you can to come to an agreement. If need be, you can then follow this up with a more formal letter of complaint. It’s best to send any complaint by signed for mail which will then allow you to check that it’s been received, or, alternatively, you could send an email seeking a read receipt from the intended recipient.  You should also give the trader a reasonable timescale to reply.

As a consumer, when dealing with a trader face to face, over the phone or by email, the importance of good customer service cannot be understated. Good customer service encourages consumers to return to a business time and time again and recommend that experience to others.

Whilst providing a good customer can be hugely important to the success of a company, it is not legislated and this ultimately means that the way a trader treats or speaks to a purchaser, is essentially down to that individual trader and their own policies.

I have been subjected to poor customer service, what can I do?

Whilst you may not have a legal right to receive good customer service, you may wish to make a trader aware of your experience. Some traders may take the feedback on board additional training for staff which could improve the overall service for customers in the future. Also while there is no legal right to be recompensed for poor customer service, you may be able to negotiate with the trader for some form of goodwill gesture.

If you hired a trader to carry out a service before October 1st, 2015 and you have a problem with the: quality of work carried out, the price charged, or unfinished work because of delays, then you may have rights against the trader under what is known as the Scottish Common Law.

Quality of work

When you hire a trader to provide a service, the Scottish Common law states that it should be carried out using reasonable care and skill. (That’s the reasonable care and skill you would expect from somebody competent in that field. The more qualified that trader is, then the higher the level of care and skill that you would expect.

If the service has been substandard and you can prove this with evidence then it is always recommended to give the trader a formal opportunity to return and put things right for free and without delay. Additionally, you may be able to make a claim for compensation in the form damages; this is usually with a reduction of the bill in mind given the quality of work.

Cost of a service

On some occasions when hiring a trader to carry out a service you’ll agree on a specific price before the service begins, this would usually be in the form of an agreed fixed quote and preferably with a with a paper trail to confirm the agreement. In such a situation, the price agreed by both parties is legally binding and it may constitute a breach of contract if it is not honoured

When no price has been agreed up front, or you have only received an initial estimate of the total costs then under the Scottish Common law, the final price invoiced should be reasonable. 

If you feel the price the trader is charging you isn’t reasonable, and you can prove that:

  1. a) you haven’t agreed a fee up front
  2. b) the price is unreasonable based on other quotations from traders in that field

You may be able to seek a claim for damages to reduce the overall balance. (Evidence of the difference in quotes from other traders would be useful in demonstrating the difference in prices)

Time taken to complete work

If the trader hasn’t completed the service within what you consider a reasonable time frame, then in the first instance you should give them a formal written deadline to complete the work. We call this making time of the essence.

It is best to make time of the essence it in writing and by signed for mail so you can prove that the trader was aware of the deadline. If the trader fails to complete the work within the deadline given, you may be able to seek a claim for damages in the form of compensation. This figure may be reflective of the cost from two or three traders to finish the work.

What should I do next?

If you haven’t already done so then you should formally raise your dispute with the trader to see if you can to come to an agreement. We would recommend complaining by signed for mail to allow you to check that it’s been received. Alternatively, you could send an email with a read receipt.

Other

When you buy food from a trader not only must the food be safe to eat, the trader must follow Food Safety regulations making sure that the food is prepared in clean and hygienic conditions and anyone who’s job is to handle food has the appropriate training.

This includes

  • Food being kept chilled or refrigerated at the correct temperature
  • The premises and equipment being cleaned and repaired or replaced regularly.
  • Ensuring staff follow good hygiene practices.

If you have reason to suspect that there is a hygiene or cleanliness problem at a cafe or food store then you can argue that under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the food you’ve been served is not of satisfactory quality and ask for a refund, its best to do this as soon as possible.

What should I do next?

If you haven’t already done so then you should try to speak with the trader about your problem to see if you can to come to an agreement. You can then follow this up with a more formal letter of complaint. It’s best to send this by signed for mail which will allow you to check that it’s been received, alternatively you could send an email with a read receipt. You should also give the trader a reasonable timescale to reply.

Concerns regarding the hygiene and cleanliness of a premises that handles food should be reported to your local Environmental Health department which can be found at www.foodstandards.gov.scot, they can also be reported to Trading Standards.

If the company has gone into administration or liquidation, then you will be able to make a claim against the practitioner that’s been appointed to handle this. There could be a long list of creditors with employees, suppliers and HMRC being at the top. There may also be limited company funds which means there’s no guarantee that you’ll receive a refund.

To check whether a company has gone into administration or liquidation you can use the following websites;

For limited companies check:

Companies House

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/companies-house

For sole traders and partnerships:

Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) (Businesses in Scotland)

https://roi.aib.gov.uk/roi/Security/Home/Landing

Insolvency Service (Businesses in England and Wales)

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/insolvency-service

If the company you are claiming against stops trading, you can take the follow steps to try and resolve the problem or recover your money.

Warranties/Guarantees

If a guarantee or warranty was supplied for the goods or services purchased, then you may be able to use this to make a claim. It’s important to note that guarantees and warranties have their own set of terms and conditions which will determine what your entitled to, so its best to check these before making a claim. There is no legal requirement for a warranty or guarantee to be provided.

Payment methods

Depending on how you’ve paid the trader you may be able to obtain a refund. If you paid on a credit card and the payment was over £100 then you automatically have the right to make a claim to your card provider for a refund. You may also have this option if the payment was less than £100 or you paid by debit card, but this will depend on your card provider and there will usually be a time limited on making a claim. 

Limited Company or Sole trader

Check whether the company is a limited company (ends in Ltd or Plc) or whether they are a sole trader or partnership. This may determine how you pursue them.

Administration

If the company has gone into administration or liquidation, then you will be able to make a claim against the practitioner that’s been appointed to handle this. There could be a long list of creditors with employees, suppliers and HMRC being at the top. There may also be limited company funds which means there’s no guarantee that you’ll receive a refund.

To check whether a company has gone into administration or liquidation you can use the following websites;

For limited companies check:

Companies House

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/companies-house

For sole traders and partnerships:

Insolvency Service

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/insolvency-service

Court Action

Sole trader/Partnerships

If a sole trader or partnership stops trading, they are still liable for any company debts, which means that you can pursue the individuals through the courts.  There’s no point in taking them to court if they are unable to pay so you’ll want to check the insolvency services website first to see whether they have gone bankrupt.

Limited company

Limited companies are run by directors and shareholders who have limited liability for the company’s debts, this means that you’ll be unable to take the individual directors to court if the company’s no longer trading.

If you believe that a trader has intentionally misled you or used high pressure and  aggressive selling practices in order to obtain a sale or get you to enter a contract, then you may have rights against them. It is important to note that it falls to yourself to prove that the trader has used aggressive or misleading practices.

Unwind

If you are within the first 90 days of entering the contract or purchasing the goods, then you may be entitled to hand the goods back or to cancel the contact and be fully refunded.

Discount

If the initial 90 days has passed, then you may be entitled to a discount on the price that was originally agreed. The amount of the discount will depend on how serious the trader’s actions were as outlined below, ultimately only a judge can decide what level you would be entitled to.

Minor25%
More than minor50%
Serious75%
Very serious100%

Damages

You may also be entitled to claim back any additional costs that you have incurred as a result of the traders’ actions and you may be asked to provide evidence of these losses.

What should I do next?

If you haven’t already done so then you should try to speak with the trader about your problem to see if you can to come to an agreement. You can then follow this up with a more formal letter of complaint. It’s best to send this by signed for mail which will allow you to check that it’s been received, alternatively you could send an email with a read receipt. You should also give the trader a reasonable timescale to reply.

Purchases (including Hire)

Purchases (including Hire)

There are a number of different ways in which you can buy tickets for concerts, theatre productions and sporting events, these can include buying from a ticket resale website or from a private seller. However, if possible, its best to buy directly from the venue or the events official ticket seller as this will ensure the ticket your buying is genuine, and that you don’t end up paying more than the tickets face value. You can usually find out who the official ticket seller is by checking the venue or artists websites.

Ticket resale websites sell tickets that have been purchased from official ticket sellers, but they also provide a platform for private sellers to sell unwanted tickets. This can be useful if an event has sold out quickly but often results in you paying more than the original ticket value and there tends to be additional charges added on top. Websites such as Viagogo and StubHub are resale websites but will often appear as the top results for tickets in search engines.

You should be wary of buying from a private seller or someone standing outside the venue as there’s a higher chance that the ticket will be fake, and it could be difficult to get your money back if you don’t receive then.

There are also fan to fan websites such as Twickets where tickets are generally sold for their original price or less, although there can be additional fees to pay.

Before buying tickets, you should check;

  • That the tickets are officially on sale, you can check this on the venue or artists websites.
  • The sellers address in case you have any problems and need to contact them.
  • Whether you’ll need proof of identity to enter the venue.
  • Whether the organiser allows the tickets to be resold, for example tickets for football matches can’t be resold without the organiser’s permission.
  • The websites terms and conditions as these will outline what your rights are if something goes wrong. For example, whether you’ll be refunded if the event is cancelled.

When buying a resold ticket, you should beware if the organisers terms and conditions don’t allow for it to be resold, then you’re at risk of being refused entry to the event. You also may not be entitled to a refund from the organiser if the event is cancelled or rescheduled.

 

There may be times when you’ll require work to be carried out in your home, this could be repairs to your boiler or roof, repairing or installing gas and electrical appliances, building work and renovations, or general home improvement. Due to the high costs that are usually involved in these types of works, it is important that you know how to find the right trader for the job.

Planning Permission / Building Regulations

Before hiring a trader to carry out work on your property, it is important to firstly check whether you will need any planning permission or approval from building regulations. This is usually required for major renovations or building work, but it may also be required for smaller jobs, for example replacing windows.

You may have to pay a fee as part of your application, especially if building control are required to inspect the work once it has been completed. If you hire a trader who is a member of a competent person scheme, then they will usually make any applications on your behalf and can self-certify their work without an inspection from building control, but you should always confirm this with the trader.

If you don’t get the appropriate permissions to have work carried out to your property then you could receive a fine, you could be asked to undo the work, or you could be prosecuted.

You can check what permissions will be required for any building works, by contacting the Planning or Building Standards department of your local authority. FIND MY LOCAL AUTHORITY

Deciding on a Trader

When deciding which trader to use, it is important to chose one who has the qualifications and experience to be able to complete the job safely and to a good standard.

Recommendations / References – You should try asking around for recommendations, or ask traders to provide you with references from previous customers, along with contact details so that you can contact these customers directly to check that the reference is genuine.

Affiliations with Trade Associations – If the trader claims to be a member of a particular trade association, then you should contact them to check that this information is correct.

Shop around –  You should shop around and get quotes from different traders so that you get the best price possible. Be wary of any quotes that are significantly lower than others, as this could indicate that the trader doesn’t have the correct experience or qualifications to do a good job.

Trader Qualifications – You should ask the trader to show you proof of their qualifications.

If the job includes working with electrics or gas, then the trader is also required to be registered with a government approved scheme. You can search for a registered trader on:

https://www.competentperson.co.uk/

https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/

www.approvedtrader.scot offers postcode search access to all firms that are members of a trading standards approved scheme run by a Scottish local authority, and can be relied upon to act honestly and reliably.

Approved Trader is also supported by Scottish Government and gives householders a choice of local reputable traders rather than risking them accepting work over the doorstep from scammers.

Additionally, The Consumer Codes Approval scheme is run by The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), and was started by Office of Fair Trading. This covers a wide range of industry sectors. https://www.tradingstandards.uk/commercial-services/consumer-codes-approval-scheme

You can also use the following websites to search for traders:

https://www.trustmark.org.uk/find-a-tradesman

https://www.trustedtrader.scot/

https://www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk/

The trader must have Employers liability insurance (unless they are a sole trader), which covers them in case they’re injured on the job. It is also a good idea to make sure that they have Public Liability insurance which will cover them for any member of the public being injured, and any damage to your own, or a neighbour’s property. You can also check whether your home insurance will cover any damage caused by the trader.

Unsolicited Traders 

You should be wary of traders that turn up at your door uninvited offering to do work, especially if they claim that the property requires repairs that you weren’t aware of. You should also be wary if they try to push you to having the work done straight away, as you may not need the work carried out at all, or they may not have the correct experience or qualifications to do the work to a good standard.

Quotes vs Estimates

Always ask the trader for a written quote rather than an estimate.

Estimates are rough idea of what the work will cost whereas a quote is a fixed price, and unless you ask for or agree that the trader will carry out additional work or they have made a genuine error in calculating the price then they can’t charge you more than what was originally quoted.

A quote should always state:

  • The fixed price total
  • How long the price is valid for
  • A breakdown of the work to be carried out and the individual costs
  • How long the work will take to complete
  • Whether the price includes VAT

Once you’ve decided to accept the traders quote you should ensure that you receive a written contract. This will be useful in helping to get your money back if the trader does not do what you have agreed. You should read the contract before signing it to ensure that the information is correct

It should include:

  • A breakdown of the work to be carried out
  • The date that the work will start and finish
  • The total fixed price
  • How and when you will make payments

Payment

It is best to make payments by credit or debit card as they offer additional protection if something goes wrong and to pay in instalments with the final payment made once the work has been completed and you are happy with it.

Once you’ve decided to buy a pet there are several things that you will want to consider. This can include what type of pet will suit your lifestyle and whether you’re prepared to care for the animal however long it lives.  

Taking on a pet can be a big responsibility with some animals having long life spans, so it’s important that you consider what’s involved in caring for them for instance dogs will need regular walks and smaller animals will need their cages and hutches cleaned regularly. There are also costs involved in owning a pet, these include food and bedding, but you should also be prepared to pay veterinary costs.

Things you should ask the seller;

  • Do they have a licence for selling animals? Pet shops are required to have a licence. Private breeders are also required to have a licence if they breed more than 5 litters a year (may be less in some local authorities).
  • Whether the animal has had all its required vaccinations, and can the seller prove this.
  • Whether the animal have any health issues, this could mean you having to pay costly vet bills and can be upsetting especially if the animal dies shortly after buying.
  • You should ask how old the animal is. Puppies and kittens can’t be sold until at least 8 weeks old.
  • What the animal’s temperament is like, is it timid, friendly, aggressive and is it good with children and other animals.

You should also check that the conditions the animal is being kept in, are clean and well kept. Puppies and kittens should always be seen with their mother, if the mother isn’t present then it’s likely that it the animal was born somewhere else which could be an indication that it has come from a puppy farm or was imported to the UK. Puppies and kittens should be alert and active and have a friendly nature, if they appear to be scared or overly tired then this could indicate that they have been treated poorly or they have a medical condition.

You should be wary of buying animals from someone advertising online, especially cats and dogs as a lot of the time these will be from puppy farms and are more likely to have behavioural issues or serious medical conditions. To do your bit to help stop puppy farming and the cruel treatment of animals that are used for breeding you should look for a registered breeder or consider going to a rescue centre where you can adopt an animal instead. The Kennel Club has a list of registered dog breeders to choose from  https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/

If you have any concerns about the welfare of an animal then you can report this to the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals SSPCA – https://www.scottishspca.org/

The law gives you certain rights as a consumer when you buy goods from a trader, but the extent of rights available to you are different when buying goods from a private individual.

When buying goods from a trader, the law states they should be of satisfactory quality, free from any faults and durable. However, this is not a requirement when you buy goods from a private individual.

The only requirements in a private sale is that the goods are a) the sellers to sell and b) match the seller’s description. Because there aren’t as many legal requirements set by law, buying privately can be very risky.

Matching description (as described)

When a private individual describes goods, this includes the description in any advertisement or verbal discussions you have had with that seller.

Please note that it is always advisable to try and obtain physical copies of any description at the time of purchase, this is because it can be difficult to prove what one person has said to another. In such a situation and in the absence of any evidence, it may ultimately come down to a courts interpretation of a dispute based on the word of both parties.

For example, if you purchased a used car from a private individual and then discover later that the car needs a number of repairs; unless the trader has described the car as ‘without fault’ or ‘in excellent condition’ for example, then you would potentially have no rights to pursue a misdescription.

Sellers to sell (title)

When a private individual sells goods, they must have the legal right to sell those goods. Therefore, they should be the rightful owner of the goods or have express written consent from someone else to assume ownership or have permission to sell those goods. If goods are subject to a finance agreement, it is very likely that a finance company may own the goods. This is particularly relevant to vehicles.

If you are considering the purchase of a car privately, you may wish to consider checking the car’s status via an HPI check for peace of mind.

Purchases (including Hire)

When you buy goods at an auction your rights may be different from those provided when you normally buy from a trader

If you have attended the auction house in person then your rights will be determined by the auction houses terms and conditions. It’s important to check the terms and conditions so that you know what your rights are before you decide to place a bid.

You may find that your rights will be with the individual seller of the item rather than the auction house, if this is the case then your rights will fall under the Sale of Goods Act 1979. Under the act goods that you buy from a private individual should match their description and if they don’t then you can ask the individual to refund you or pay you damages, this could be an amount to cover repairs if the seller described the item as having no faults when it was in fact faulty.

When looking to buy goods there are several things you will want to consider, one of which will be whether to buy the goods online or instore, with both having their own benefits. Below you’ll find a list of benefits and drawbacks for each which should help you decide which method is best for you.

Buying in store

Benefits

  • Inspect; You have the chance to inspect the goods or try them before you buy. This gives you the opportunity to decide whether they are suitable and you more likely to notice if something is faulty.
  • Convenience; You will usually get to take the goods away immediately, this can be convenient if the item is something that you quickly.
  • Face to face; If you have any problems, you’re able to go back to the store to speak with the trader face to face, this means that you can negotiate with them directly to try and resolve the problem quickly.

Drawbacks

  • Returns; If you change your mind, there’s no automatic right to return goods. Some traders may allow you to return the goods for an exchange or refund, but this is their own policy and not a legal requirement.
  • Payments; Traders aren’t required to accept specific payment methods, so when you buy in store, they may be less likely to accept payment by credit or debit card. This means less protection if something goes wrong.
  • Impulse buys; Some stores especially supermarkets have developed tactics to encourage you to spend more money while in the store, this includes displaying small value items at the till.

Buying online

Benefits

  • Convenience; One of the main benefits of shopping online is convenience. You can shop at any time of the day or night without leaving your home and you can visit multiple websites in a short space making it easier to shop around to find the best price.
  • Cheaper; Some online traders might charge less than what you would pay in store this is usually because they have lower overheads. Some may also offer online only discounts, but you should always check what the cost of delivery will be.
  • Returns; When you buy goods online you have 14 days to return them for a full refund (you may have to cover the return postage costs). There are some types of goods where this doesn’t apply which includes goods that have been made to order, online games or apps, items were there could be an issue of hygiene such as underwear or earrings and anything that has a short life span such as flowers or food.
  • Payment; Traders are more likely to accept payment by credit card, debit card or PayPal, this can give you extra protection if something goes wrong. 

Drawbacks

  • Delivery; You should always check what the trader’s timescale for delivery is. Unless the trader has specified that you’ll receive the goods by a certain date then they have up to 30 days to deliver them to you, this might not be convenient if you need something quickly.
  • Overseas traders; If you buy something from an online trader who isn’t based in the UK, then it can be more difficult to get problems fixed. You should always check that there is a postal address on the website so that you know where the trader is based, .co.uk domain names don’t guarantee the trader is based in the UK.
  • Counterfeit; As you can’t inspect the goods before purchase there can be higher risk of buying counterfeit goods. If you haven’t ordered from a trader before its best practice to check for reviews from previous customers and to pay using a credit or debit card so that you’ll have additional protection if something goes wrong.

The way we pay for goods and services has changed a lot over the years and while some of us still like to use cash where possible, there are a lot of other methods that can be used some of which offer you additional protection if something goes wrong.

Debit card

Some debit card providers operate a Chargeback scheme where you can ask them to reverse the payment should something go wrong. For example, the trader fails to deliver goods.

Credit card

Payments are protected by section 75 of Consumer Credit Act 1974 which makes your card provider jointly liable with the trader to refund you if something goes wrong. Only goods or services valued between £100 and £30,000 are covered but you can make a claim even if you only paid 1p on your card. This is useful for purchasing high value items, but you should try to pay the card off as soon as possible to avoid high interest rates.

Finance

There are different types of finance available including hire purchase, conditional sale agreements and fixed sum loans and they tend to be useful for buying high value items such as cars or furniture. Some types of finance will give you the option to hold the finance company liable if something goes wrong and you can’t resolve it with the trader. You should always check the rate of interest and what the total amount payable will be. Some offer 0% interest for a period of time but once this ends the rate of interest can be high, so if you can its best to pay the balance in full before this.

Direct debits 

Direct debits are used for making regular payments for services such mobile phones, TV and internet services. Customers are protected by the Direct Debit Guarantee and If a payment has been taken incorrectly then your bank or building society have an obligation to refund the payment.

Gift card/vouchers

These are generally used for giving gifts instead of cash, you decide how much you want to load onto the card and the recipient can then only spend to that amount. They provide no additional protection if something goes wrong.

You should beware of anyone asking you to make a payment by gift cards such as for iTunes, as this indicates a scam.

PayPal/Sage Pay

They both offer secure services that allow you to send electronic payments online. PayPal also offer a process where you can raise a dispute against a trader although there is usually a time limit in which to do so. Sage Pay don’t offer a dispute process.

Digital-wallets (apple/google pay)

These allow you to make secure electronic payments online or in person if you have a device that support it. As your credit or debit card is linked to the digital wallet, you may also be protected by section 75 or chargeback as outlined above.

Bank transfers

Bank transfers are a direct transfer of an amount of money from one bank account to another. While there is no obligation for them to do so, if you’ve been the victim of a scam you can ask your bank for help in getting the payment back

Store cards

Store cards are a credit facility offered by some retailers. It is important to check interest rates and potential charges for late or missed payments as these can be a lot higher than other methods of payment. This information can be found on retailer websites and in terms and conditions of credit agreements.

Travel and Transport

Holidays

If your flight is regulated by the EU for example it’s leaving from or travelling to an EU country or the airline is based in the EU, then the airline will have certain obligations to you should your flight be delayed or cancelled.

If your flight was not EU regulated, you should still contact the airline as you may still be able to make a claim, but this will depend on the airline.

If an airline cancels your flight, then you can ask for a refund or you can choose to take an alternative flight were again you should be provided with food and drink, access to a phone and accommodation if required. 

If you choose to take an alternative flight, then you may also be entitled to compensation if you were given less than 14 days’ notice of the cancellation. This amount will depend on the length of delay caused by the alternative flight and how much notice you were given of the cancellation but usually starts at €125.

You can find more information about what your entitled to on the Civil Aviation Authority’s Website.

You’re only entitled to compensation if the cause of the delay was within the airlines control for example staffing issues or a technical fault. You can’t claim compensation if the delay was due to bad weather or political unrest.

How do I make a claim?

To make a claim for a delayed or cancelled flight you should contact the airline directly. It’s usually best to this in writing and send it by signed for mail which will allow you to check that it’s been received, but some airlines may send you a claim form to complete or have an option to submit your claim online.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

If the airline rejects your claim, you can look at Alternative Dispute Resolution as a way of resolving your complaint. This is a process run by independent third parties to try and resolve disputes between consumer and traders outside of court. It’s generally cheaper and quicker than court action and tends to be less formal. 

ADR is not a legal requirement so you’ll have to check if the airline is a member of a scheme you can contact or whether they are willing to use one to resolve the dispute.

If the airline is not a member of an ADR which is approved by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) then you can ask the CAA’ Passenger Advice and Complaints Team to look at your complaint and contact the airline on your behalf. You can find more information on doing this at their website.

If your flight is regulated by the European Union,for example it’s leaving from an EU airport or the airline is based in the EU and travelling to an EU airport, then the airline will have certain obligations to you should your flight be delayed or cancelled.

If your flight was not EU regulated, you should still contact the airline as you may still be able to make a claim, but this will depend on the airline.

Less than 5 hours

If your flight is delayed for several hours then the airline has an obligation to look after you, your flight usually has to be delayed between 2 and 4 hours depending on the length of your flight. The airline will usually give you vouchers to spend on food and drink but If you’re not given vouchers then you should keep receipts for what you’ve spent so you can claim it back later. You should keep your costs to a reasonable amount as the airline is unlikely to pay for alcohol or expensive meals.

You should also be provided with access to a phone or email facilities and if you’re to be delayed overnight, you should be provided with accommodation and transport to get you there and then back to the airport.

More than 5 hours

If the flight is delayed 5 hours or more, you can ask the airline to cancel your flight and refund you so you can make your own travel arrangements. You will also be entitled to a refund of any other flights that are being provided by the airline as part of the same journey that you haven’t yet taken for example a return flight. If you have already travelled part of the journey and it’s a connecting flight that’s delayed or cancelled, then the airline should return you to your original departure airport.

Compensation

If your flight is delayed and you arrive at your destination 3 hours or later than you were originally scheduled to arrive, then you can also make a claim to the airline for compensation. The amount will depend on the length of the delay and the length of the flight as shown below.

  • Delayed 3 hours or longer then you may be entitled to claim between €250 and €400
  • If your delayed 4 hours or longer then you may be entitled to €300.
  • Or for delays of 4 hours or longer you may be entitled to €600

You’re only entitled to compensation if the cause of the delay was within the airlines control for example staffing issues or a technical fault. You can’t claim compensation if the delay was due to bad weather or political unrest.

You can find more information about what your entitled to on the Civil Aviation Website.

How do I make a claim?

To make a claim for a delayed or cancelled flight you should contact the airline directly. It’s usually best to this in writing and send it by signed for mail which will allow you to check that it’s been received, but some airlines may send you a claim form to complete or have an option to submit your claim online.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

If the airline rejects your claim, you can look at Alternative Dispute Resolution as a way of resolving your complaint. This is a process run by independent third parties to try and resolve disputes between consumer and traders outside of court. It’s generally cheaper and quicker than court action and tends to be less formal. 

ADR is not a legal requirement so you’ll have to check if the airline is a member of a scheme you can contact or whether they are willing to use one to resolve the dispute.

If the airline is not a member of an ADR which is approved by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) then you can ask the CAA’ Passenger Advice and Complaints Team to look at your complaint and contact the airline on your behalf. You can find more information on doing this their website.

In order to know what your rights are in relation to holidays you will first have to know what type of holiday you have. Below you will find the requirements of each of the 3 holiday types.

Package holiday

You have package holiday if the trip lasts for 24 hours or longer, includes an overnight stay and consists of 2 or more of the following, that have been booked with the same travel agent or tour operator at the same time and for the same trip.

  • Transport; flights, ferry, rail or bus travel
  • Accommodation which is separate to your travel arrangements
  • Car or other type of vehicle rental
  • Tourist services such as guided tours

Independent

You’re an independent traveller if you booked and paid for each part of the holiday separately yourself. For example, you booked your flights with the airline and your accommodation with the hotel. You’ll also have an independent holiday if your trip doesn’t fall into one of the other types.

Linked travel arrangement

A linked travel arrangement is when you book one element of the trip with one trader such as flights, and then using a link that this first trader has provided you then book car hire for the same trip with another company. This must be done within 24 hours of the original booking and you have to provide some or all of your details to the second company.

If you’re on holiday and there’s a problem the law gives you certain rights. These rights may vary depending on what the problem was and the type of holiday you’ve booked.

You may wish to make a claim if;

  • There was a problem with your room for example a fault with the shower or bathroom facilities or general cleanliness issues.
  • The information you were given about the hotels location or facilities was incorrect.
  • Services you booked weren’t provided for example tours or excursions.
  • You or someone in your party had food poisoning after eating hotel food.
  • The hotel’s pool was closed during your stay.

If you have a problem while on holiday you should report it as soon as possible so that it can be put right, this will usually be with the hotel or individual trader initially. If the trader fails to resolve the problem and you’ve booked a package holiday, then you should contact the holiday company or holiday rep at your resort so that they can attempt to fix the issue. If the issue hasn’t been resolved during your stay, then when you return home you can make a claim to your holiday company for damages (appropriate amount of money).

You may also be entitled to damages if the problem significantly impacted your enjoyment of the holiday.

If you’ve booked a linked travel arrangement or an independent holiday your claim will be against the individual trader that the supplied the service for example the hotel. This could make your claim difficult if the trader is abroad as you may not have the same rights as you would in the UK.

If your pursing a claim against a trader in the EU but not in the UK, then you can ask the European Consumer Centre for advice – https://www.ukecc.net/

Making a claim

Who you send your claim to depends on what type of holiday was booked. If you’ve booked a package holiday, then your claim should go to the travel company that you booked with but if it was a linked travel arrangement or if it was an independent holiday you will need to send your claim to the individual trader that your complaint is with.  It’s best to send your claim in writing and by signed for mail so that you can check it’s been delivered, although some traders may ask that your claim be submitted online or by email. 

If your complaint is still not resolved to your satisfaction, you should check whether the company is a member of a trade association that you can take your complaint to, for example the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA).

Complaints can be registered on the ABTA website.

When hold luggage is lost, damaged or delayed you are entitled to make a claim against the airline responsible. If your journey consisted of travelling with two or more airlines it will usually be the last airline you travelled with that you take your claim to, however you could take your claim to any of them.

There is a maximum amount of £1000 for any claim you make to the airline, although it’s rare that an airline would ever pay this amount. If you have travel insurance or a home contents policy that covers luggage and contents, then it might be easier to make a claim under this and they may pay more than the airline would. Bear in mind you may have to pay an excess for any claim that you make on an insurance policy.

Delayed luggage

If your luggage is delayed, then you can make a claim to the airline for the cost of buying essentials such as underwear or toiletries. You would usually only make this type of claim if your away from home, if you bag is delayed on your return home then you will likely have access to other essentials and not need to buy as much.

Delayed or missing luggage claims can be made up to 21 days after the luggage has been returned.

Lost or damaged luggage

If your luggage is lost or damaged after being checked in with the airline, then you may be entitled to make a claim against the airline.  You may also be entitled to make a claim for damaged cabin baggage but only if the airline was responsible for the damage.

It’s important to note the airline will take into account the age of any items and they are unlikely to cover the cost of replacing an old item with a new one. You will usually be unable to make a claim for any fragile of valuable items that were in your checked luggage or if your luggage was faulty.

Lost or stolen items, or damaged baggage claims should be made within 7 days after your luggage has been returned.

How do I make a claim?

Your first step will be to report the issue at the airport and complete a Property Irregularity Report (PIR), if you haven’t done this then you should contact the airline as soon as possible and ask them to confirm in writing that you’ve done this. When it comes to making a claim against the airline this will usually be done in writing although its best to ask the airline what their official process is. It’s likely that you will have to provide;

  • Details of the flight (flight number, dates, departure point and destination)
  • Proof that you reported the problem to the airline
  • Receipts for anything you had to buy or has been lost or damaged (send a copies and keep the originals)
  • Photos of any damaged items

Your right to cancel to cancel a holiday will not only depend on the reason for the cancellation but also whether it’s a package holiday or linked travel arranged.

You’ve changed your mind

If you decide that you for any reason that you don’t wish to travel, or you can’t go on holiday and you’ve booked a package holiday after July 1st, 2018, then you can cancel at any time up until the holiday starts. It’s likely that you’ll have to pay a cancellation fee, but this should be no more than the amount the company has lost as a result of you cancelling.

If you have linked travel agreement or independent holiday, then your right to cancel will depend on the terms and conditions of your contract. You should check these before advising the trader that you wish to cancel.

You can also look at transferring the holiday to someone else, the cost of this may be cheaper than paying a cancellation fee.

Package Holidays

The company makes changes to the holiday

If the changes are considered significant to the holiday, then you can accept an alternative if there’s one available or cancel for a full refund. You must be notified of the change in writing and given a date to respond with your decision, if you haven’t responded by this date, they must send you a further notification and if you fail to respond to this then they can cancel your holiday.

The law doesn’t specify what a significant change is, it could be changing the dates of the holiday so that you leave and return later than scheduled or changing the resort to one that has lesser facilities or is further from local amenities.

The company increases the price

You’ll have to check your terms and conditions to see whether these allow the trader to increase the cost of the holiday after it’s been booked. The price can only be increased because of;

  • an increase in the price of fuel which means transport costs have gone up
  • changes to taxes or fees by third parties – like tourist taxes
  • exchange rates which affect the price of the holiday

If the terms and conditions allow for a price increase, the trader must notify you of the increase in writing and give you the option to either pay the increase or allow you to cancel the holiday.

If the terms and conditions don’t allow for this then the trader can’t increase the price.

Exceptional Circumstances

If there are exceptional circumstances which will affect your ability to travel to your destination or have a significant impact on your holiday, then you can cancel and receive a full refund. Exceptional circumstances can include natural disasters such as flooding or fire, war or the outbreak of a serious disease, and they must occur at your destination or close by.

Before you travel

Booked through a travel firm

If your flights were booked through a travel company, then you should check to see whether they hold an ATOL licence and whether you received confirmation that your booking was ATOL protected. If your booking as ATOL protected, then the company you booked with will be responsible for arranging alternative flights or if you haven’t yet travelled, issuing a full refund.

Booked with the airline directly

Airlines are not included in the ATOL Scheme, so if you booked your flights directly with an airline that has ceased trading you won’t be covered.

No ATOL Protection

Even if your booking is not ATOL protected you may still be able to get a refund.

If you paid on a credit card and the total cost of your booking was over £100 then you can make a section 75 claim under the Consumer Credit Act 1974. This means that you can ask your credit card provider to refund you. They will be liable to refund the total amount paid, even if you only paid part of the total cost on your card. For example, the total cost of the booking was £140, then you will be entitled to a refund of the full amount even if you only used your credit card to pay 1p towards the booking.

Some airlines or travel companies offer travel insurance at the time of booking, this can be Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance or something similar which may allow you to make a claim if the airline stops trading, You should check the terms of any insurance policy to see what you’re entitled to claim for as this can differ between policies.

If the total cost of your booking was less than £100 or you paid using a debit card, then you may be able to make a Chargeback claim for a refund. Chargeback is a voluntary scheme so your card provider must be opted in for you to make a claim and there’s a time limit in which to do so, this is usually 120 days after making the payment but can be longer under some circumstances so it’s worth checking this directly with you card provider. Chargeback will also only cover the amount that was paid on the card rather than the total cost of the booking.

You can also raise a dispute you paid for the booking using PayPal, but you can only to do this within 180 days of making the payment.

Already Abroad

If your holiday was ATOL protected then your travel company must arrange an alternative flight to get you home, this will usually be at the end of the holiday as previously scheduled. You will have received confirmation that the travel company holds an ATOL licence and whether your booking was ATOL protected but if you’re not sure contact the travel company to check. Airlines are not included in the ATOL scheme.

If you’re not ATOL protected, then you will have to arrange and pay for a return flight home. You may then be able to claim this back you have travel insurance, but you should always check that your policy covers the return flight and to what amount before you book.

Some other airlines may offer repatriation fares, where they will offer discounted flights to get you home although they may only offer this for a short period of time.

If you paid on a credit card and the total cost of your booking was over £100 then you can make a section 75 claim under the Consumer Credit Act 1974. This means that you can ask your credit card provider to refund you. They will be liable to refund the total cost if the original return flight, even if you only paid part of the total cost on your card. For example, the total cost of the booking was £140, with each flight being priced individually at £70, you will then be entitled to a refund of £70 even if you only used your credit card to pay 1p towards the booking.

If the total cost of your booking was less than £100 or you paid using a debit card, then you may be able to make a Chargeback claim for a refund. Chargeback is a voluntary scheme so your card provider must be opted in for you to make a claim and there’s a time limit in which to do so, this is usually 120 days after making the payment but can be longer under some circumstances so it’s worth checking this directly with you card provider. Chargeback will also only cover the amount that was paid on the card rather than the total cost of the booking.

You can also raise a dispute you paid for the booking using PayPal, but you can only to do this within 180 days of making the payment.

Other

Rail

If your train is delayed you should firstly check whether the operator has a Delay Repay guarantee that will allow you to claim back a percentage of your ticket cost, the amount you receive will depend on the cost of your ticket, whether it was a single or return ticket and the length of the delay. If your train is cancelled, then you will be entitled to a full refund.

You should send your complaint to the rail operator along with your original train tickets (you may want to keep a copy in case the originals are lost). If the rail operator doesn’t resolve your complaint, then you can escalate it to the Rail Ombudsman who will carry out an investigation;

Website : https://www.railombudsman.org/

Bus

Complaints about bus services should be raised with the bus company. In your complaint you should include the date and time of the journey, the service number, the direction you were travelling and a copy of your bus ticket, if you have one.

If your unhappy with the outcome of your complaint or the way in which it was handled, then you can escalate it to Bus Users Scotland who can contact the operator to negotiate on your behalf, although they have no statutory powers to force the operator to do anything.

Websitehttps://www.bususers.org/scotland/about-us

If you find that your complaint is still not resolved, you can escalate it to the Traffic Commissioner for Scotland.

Website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/traffic-commissioners

Ferry

If your ferry journey is delayed by more than 90 mins then depending on the length of the delay you may be entitled to snacks, refreshments and meals. If you will be delayed overnight, then you may be entitled to be put up in accommodation but only if the delay is not weather related. Some operators may ask that you arrange your own accommodation and they will then reimburse you.

You may also be entitled to additional compensation for a delay.

If the ferry is cancelled, then you’re entitled to a replacement journey if available or a full refund.

You should raise your initial complaint with the operator and follow their complaints procedure fully. If your unhappy with the operator’s response then you may be able to escalate the matter further and the individual operator will be able to tell signpost you to the correct body for this.

You can also make a claim against an operator under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. This states that any service being provided by a trader should be provided with the reasonable care and skill expected of a trader within their profession. If your unhappy with the service that a transport operator has provided then you’re entitled to a replacement journey, or refund of an appropriate amount.

Parking on public land is mostly managed by local authorities and they do this by hiring parking attendants who issue penalty charge notices, they will either be handed to you directly or fixed to the car.

If you accept the charge then the notice will tell you how much to pay, how to pay and how long you have to make the payment (usually 28 days).

If you disagree with the charge, then you will have the opportunity to appeal to the local authority that it was issued from again the process for appealing and how long you’ll have to do this will be explained on the notice.

  • You can appeal a penalty charge notice on the grounds that;
  • You weren’t the car’s owner at the time it was parked, you’ll have to provide proof of this for example the DVLA registration form.
  • Your car had broken down, again you’ll likely have to provide evidence of this.
  • It wasn’t properly designated as having parking restrictions.

If your appeal is rejected, then the local authority must send you a notice of rejection along with details on how you can take your appeal to the Parking and Bus Lane Tribunal for Scotland.

Phone: 0330 123 5581

Email: info@appealparkingorbuslanefine.gov.scot

Should you choose to not appeal or pay the penalty charge notice you’ll be issued with a reminder, it’s called a ‘notice to owner’. If you don’t pay after receiving the reminder, you’ll be issued with a ‘charge certificate’ and the penalty will increase by 50%. If you still refuse to pay the local authority can take you to court.

Police and Traffic Wardens

Tickets issued by the police or traffic wardens are called fixed penalty notices. You will usually have 21 days to respond a fixed penalty and the amount may be reduced if you pay within a set period of time. If you don’t agree then you have the option of having.

If you don’t pay then you’ll be issued with a reminder, it’s called a ‘notice to owner’. If you don’t pay after receiving the reminder, you’ll be issued with a ‘charge certificate’ and the penalty will increase by 50%. Not paying can be criminal and your at risk of being sent to prison.

Shopping centres, supermarkets and some private residential estates are classed as private land and sometimes the owners of the land will employ the services of a private company to manage their land or car parks.

When you park on private land or private car parks there will normally be a sign displayed which should include details of;

  • How long you can park for whether for free or for a cost
  • How much it will cost you to park (this is usually an hourly rate)
  • What the charge will be if you don’t pay the correct amount or stay longer than allowed.

By parking on the land you’re entering into a contract with the landowner and agreeing to the rules

displayed on the sign, these are the terms and conditions of the contract.

If you then stay longer than allowed or longer than you paid for, then the landowner or management company could issue you with a PCN (parking charge notice).

What can I do?

Pay the charge

If you agree that you breached the terms and the charge if valid then you may wish to pay charge and most companies will give you a discount if you pay within 14 days.

Appeal

If you don’t agree that the charge is valid then you can appeal directly to the management company on the one of the following grounds;

  • The signs were not clearly displayed or the information on them was misleading, if this was the case then you may be able to argue that the terms are unenforceable.
  • You don’t believe that the charge is reasonable. Check if the company is a member of the British Parking Association or the International Parking Community who both recommend that charges should not exceed £100.
  • You were not the driver of the car at the time it was parked. There’s no law in Scotland that states the registered keeper of the car is automatically liable for a parking ticket. You are also under no obligation to disclose the details of the driver at the time.
  • You could also appeal the charge if you’re elderly or have a medical condition that means it will take you longer to buy a ticket or return to your car or there was a good reason for you overstaying for example you had taken ill.

How do I appeal?

Firstly, contact the management company and advise then that you wish to appeal the charge. Make the grounds for your appeal clear and provide as much evidence as possible to back this up. You can send your appeal in writing although most companies will have their own process which may include appealing online. The companies appeals process should be outlined on the original PCN that is sent to you.

At this stage you can also contact the store or owner of the land to ask them to withdraw the charge.

If your appeal is rejected, then ask if the company is willing to go through the IAS (Independent Appeals Service). If they are then you can submit your appeal directly to the IAS through their website.

For consumers, the purchase of of a vehicle can be one of the most high value purchases we make during our lifetimes. It also tends to be a purchase subject that leads to many consumer complaints for one reason or another.

It’s important to make sure that what you are buying is not only worth what you are paying for it but it’s also safe for you and your family to drive around in.

Find a reputable dealer

The first thing you should do when you want to buy a used car is to look for a reputable car dealer.

Some car dealers will advertise as being part of a trade organisation who may offer help if something goes wrong (for example, the Retail Motor Industry Federation or the Scottish Motor Trade Association). Alternatively, some traders may offer to have their cars inspected by an independent engineer or motoring organisation before sale to provide extra reassurance.

If you decide to by from a private seller or, at an auction, you’ll generally have less rights if something goes wrong.

For more information on private sales click here, or for more information on auctions click here.

Test drive

Once you’ve seen a car that your interested in you should arrange to test drive it, although you should check whether your insurance will cover you for this, if not then you may be covered under the trader’s insurance.

You should also inspect the car for any damage, its usually best to do this during the day when its dry as any damage will be easier to see.

The AA have a handy checklist of things to look out for when buying a used car which you can find here

The Motor Ombudsman can provide with details of where to go if you wish to have a car independently inspected, there is however a charge for this service.

Check the cars history

Before agreeing to buy a car, you should check the cars history.

Look out for a record of regular MOT’s and question any gaps if a document cannot be produced or if you have concerns about advisories and mileage discrepancies.  MOT history can be checked here and its free of charge. 

There are other checks that you can also do, including:

  • If the car has been reported stolen
  • Whether there is unpaid finance attached to the car
  • Whether the car has been in a serious accident, written off and then repaired
  • Whether the mileage on the car is correct

These checks can be carried out via the following websites:

Please note that there might be a small charge to use these services.

Check the paperwork

When you buy a used car there are certain documents that must be provided to you, these include the log book (you should never buy a car that doesn’t have this) and any current MOT certificate. You must be given the original documents and not photocopies.

It’s also important to know that car tax can no longer be transferred to another person. So as a new owner, you will have to pay for your own car tax straight away and the seller will then be refunded for any leftover tax when the car is sold.

Payment methods

Its also important to choose the right method of payment for you and your finances but also to ensure that you are fully protected in case something goes wrong.

Contractual Issues

Contractual Issues

If a term requires a consumer who defaults on their obligations to pay more compensation than is required to cover the seller’s or supplier’s losses, it may be unfair.

For example, ‘any cancellation of the order is subject to a minimum payment of 50% of the total order value’.

Terms hidden from the customer

A consumer should always have an opportunity to read and understand the terms of their contract with the seller or supplier before they are bound by them.

Any term which requires them to accept conditions they have not had an opportunity to read and understand is likely to be unfair.

For example, ‘all orders are subject to our standard conditions, details of which will be supplied with the goods’.

Terms about unfair Variation

A term is likely to be unfair if it gives the seller or supplier unilateral rights to vary the contract to their advantage.This is most likely to be the case in contracts allowing the seller or supplier the right, at its discretion, to force the consumer to accept any changes to the nature of the contract.

Where the right to vary is more restricted, for example, allowing minor changes to the goods which are of no significance to the consumer, this will usually not be an unfair term.A term allowing variation of prices in line with a published price index may be fair. Such terms are often used in contracts relating to financial services.

For example, ‘we reserve the right to vary the price of the product in line with the Retail Price Index’.Also, any term allowing variation may be fair if the consumer can withdraw from the contract before being affected by the variation. However, the consumer must still be given adequate advance notice of the variation and they must not suffer any loss or significant inconvenience by exercising their right to withdraw from the contract.

For example, ‘the price detailed in the contract will remain fixed for 12 weeks from the contract date. Installations that take place after 12 weeks from the contract date will be charged for at prices applying on the due date. In the event that there’s a price increase which affects the contract price, the customer may cancel the contract without liability.’

In a contract relating to financial services, a right to alter charges or vary interest rates without notice may be fair if: such action is taken only for a valid reason; the consumer is informed of the variation as soon as possible; and they have the right to cancel the contract should they choose to do so.

For example, ‘we reserve the right to vary the rate of interest on the account in line with the Bank of England base interest rate. We will provide notice of any variation of the interest rate in our branches and advertisements in the press at least 28 days before we change the interest rate.’.

Terms giving the seller or supplier sole or final rights to define terms

A term may be unfair if it allows the seller or supplier to define the meaning of terms in the contract or to decide whether they are in breach of them. For example, ‘the company reserves the right to decide whether the goods are faulty and whether to repair or replace them’.

Terms denying liability for statements made by agents or employees

A term is likely to be unfair if it allows the seller or supplier the right to deny liability for the actions of their agents or employees.

For example, a consumer may have a contract which has been supplemented by statements of agents and employees at the time of agreement.

For example, ‘all terms of the contract are contained in this document’, or ‘no employee has authority to make statements inconsistent with these terms’, or, ‘any variation to these terms must be in writing and signed by the Director’.

Terms about unbalanced assignment clauses

A term may be unfair if it allows the seller or supplier to pass on their obligations to someone else without consulting the consumer or without ensuring that the consumer’s rights under the contract are not prejudiced, as this may result in the consumer having to deal with someone less reliable and therefore getting a worse deal than they bargained for.

For example, ‘this company may at any time assign this agreement to any third party’.

A term which places an outright ban on the consumer assigning their obligations or benefits may be considered unfair. Much will depend on the nature of the contract.

For example, ‘this guarantee is personal to the customer and may not be transferred to anyone else’.

Terms that hinder or prevent the consumer going to court

A term which prevents the consumer from taking court action or forces them to take up any dispute with a particular court or body, for example, an arbitration body, is likely to be unfair. In most cases, a term which forces the consumer to use an arbitration scheme and stops them from taking action through the courts will be automatically unfair.

For example, ‘the reading on the meter is conclusive evidence of what has been supplied’, or ‘any dispute that cannot be resolved will be referred to arbitration’.

Terms that impose excessive burdens or requirements on the consumer

A term which imposes indefinite financial burdens on the consumer, in addition to the agreed price for the goods or services, is likely to be unfair. However, such a term may not be unfair where it requires the consumer to pay specified amounts in particular circumstances, for example, a penalty charge if they default on payments (provided that the charge is not excessive and is proportionate to the seller’s loss).

For example, ‘the company may at any time require payment of such security deposit as it deems necessary’, or ‘the college will at its discretion make any additional charge it deems fit for cleaning rooms’.

A term imposing indefinite financial burdens may not be unfair if the consumer is given the right to cancel without any penalty before becoming subject to any additional burden.

For example, ‘the company may at any time require the payment of an additional £25 where delivery cannot be undertaken by our courier and we are obliged to use an external courier, subject to us notifying you beforehand’.

Terms that require the consumer to bear inappropriate risks

A term which requires the consumer to bear liability for the negligence of the seller or supplier, or which requires them to bear risks which the seller or supplier is in a better position to insure against, is likely to be unfair.

For example, ‘the customer indemnifies the company against all third-party claims’, or ‘the customer will pay for damage caused to the company’s equipment by adverse weather conditions.’

Terms that require the consumer to make declarations which are not necessarily true

A term which requires the consumer to sign a declaration whether it is true or not, is likely to be unfair. The consumer may see such a declaration as a formality but, in effect, such a term is attempting to make them sign away their rights.

For example, ‘I have read and understood the conditions of sale overleaf’, or ‘no oral representation was made to me as to the vehicle’s condition or recorded mileage’.

A term in a contract that may fall into one or more of the categories above.

The list is not exhaustive and, just because a term appears to fit within a type of term in the list, it won’t be automatically unfair. Also, terms which do not appear to fit within any of the types listed below may still be potentially unfair terms.

However, the list does provide a good range of examples of contract terms which are capable of being considered as unfair by the enforcement bodies and the courts.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) provides guidance documents on particular types of unfair terms or the use of unfair terms in particular types of contracts, for example, unfair terms in package holiday contracts.

If a term in the consumer’s contract appears to be unfair but does not appear to fit within any of the types and examples shown in the following three paragraphs, the consumer could consider contacting their local trading standards department, which should be able to provide further advice on the matter.

1 July 1995 to 30 September 2015: Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999

In most circumstances, for a term to be challengeable as unfair, it must meet certain conditions laid down in the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999.

Generally, these regulations only apply where the consumer has entered a contract on or after 1 July 1995. However, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the other organisations with shared powers under the regulations can assess a contract, or term, for unfairness where it was entered into before 1 July 1995 and remains in use with consumers on or after that date.

Before 1 July 1995: Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977

A consumer who entered a contract before 1 July 1995 may still be able to argue that a term in their contract is unfair under the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977.

The act limits the extent to which liability for breach of contract or negligence can be avoided using unfair contract terms. The main example of where the act applies is in the absolute prohibition of terms which attempt to exclude or restrict liability for death or personal injury caused by negligence.

Challenging unfair terms

If a consumer has identified a potentially unfair term in their contract, they should consider making a complaint to one of the enforcement bodies with the power to challenge unfair contract terms.

These bodies only have powers to challenge unfair contract terms to protect consumers in general. They cannot take up individual consumers’ cases.

If a consumer has identified a potentially unfair term in their contract and the seller or supplier refuses to accept that the term is unfair, the consumer could consider taking court action against the seller or supplier to protect or enforce their own rights.

They should seek legal advice before becoming involved in a dispute that could lead to court proceedings. If a court decides a term is unfair, the seller or supplier will not be able to use the term against the consumer.

If a consumer is unclear about whether a particular term is unfair, they could contact their local trading standards department through consumeradvice.scot for more information and advice. However, it is important that they are made aware that only a court can definitely decide whether a particular term is unfair or not.

Challenging unfair terms

If a consumer has identified a potentially unfair term in their contract, they should consider making a complaint to one of the enforcement bodies with the power to challenge unfair contract terms.

These bodies only have powers to challenge unfair contract terms to protect consumers in general. They cannot take up individual consumers’ cases.

If a consumer has identified a potentially unfair term in their contract and the seller or supplier refuses to accept that the term is unfair, the consumer could consider taking court action against the seller or supplier to protect or enforce their own rights.

They should seek legal advice before becoming involved in a dispute that could lead to court proceedings. If a court decides a term is unfair, the seller or supplier will not be able to use the term against the consumer.

If a consumer is unclear about whether a particular term is unfair, they could contact their local trading standards department through consumeradvice.scot for more information and advice. However, it is important that they are made aware that only a court can definitely decide whether a particular term is unfair or not.

The role of enforcement bodies

There are a number of organisations which have the power to consider a consumer’s complaint that a particular term is unfair. These are:

In most situations, it will be appropriate to refer a possible unfair contract term to the local Trading Standards department, which should be able to provide further guidance to a consumer

The Trading Standards department will also decide whether it wishes to deal with the matter itself, refer it to the CMA, or, if appropriate, refer it to one of the other enforcement bodies.

The CMA has a duty to consider any complaint sent to it that a standard term is unfair, unless it appears to it to be frivolous or vexatious, or another enforcement body has notified the CMA that it will be considering the complaint.

The CMA can be contacted at:

Competition and Markets Authority

Victoria House
37 Southampton Row
London
WC1B 4AD

Tel: 020 7271 0021
Emailinfo@cma.gsi.gov.uk
Websitewww.gov.uk/cma

The other enforcement bodies may act over unfair terms relating to the scope of their work, for example, the Office of Rail Regulation is likely only to act about unfair terms used in contracts relating to rail services.

Complaints that are outside the scope of the other enforcement bodies should always be referred to a local Trading Standards department or the CMA.

Any qualifying enforcement body which considers that a term is unfair can seek a court injunction (in Scotland, an interdict) against any party using the term, or recommending the use of the term, in any consumer contract

It can also request a temporary order (an interim injunction or interim interdict) to prevent further use of the term until the application for an injunction or interdict has been fully decided by the court.

Alternatively, an enforcement body can apply to the county court (in Scotland, the sheriff court) for an enforcement order which prevents the seller or supplier from using the unfair term in question.

All the enforcement bodies have the power to accept undertakings in lieu of court proceedings from a seller or supplier that they will cease to use an unfair term, or that the seller or supplier will revise the term so that it is no longer unfair.

A consumer who has a legitimate interest in the outcome of a complaint about an unfair term is entitled to be given reasons for any decision about whether the relevant enforcement body will be taking court action against the seller or supplier. When and how reasons are given will depend on all the circumstances of the case.

Unfair contract terms in other EU member states.

The rights that a consumer has in the UK regarding unfair contract terms under the 1999 regulations will be very similar if they have purchased goods or services from a seller or supplier in another EU member state.

If a client has purchased goods or services in another EU member state, and they believe the seller or supplier has used an unfair term in their contract, they could refer the matter to the relevant enforcement authority for that EU member state.

If a consumer’s contract is the subject of a possible unfair contract term, used by a seller or supplier in another EU member state, the adviser should, where applicable, consider referring the matter to the UK European Consumer Centre, which is now responsible for dealing with EU consumer issues faced by UK citizens post-Brexit. UKECC | UKECC

When you enter into a contract or buy goods from a trader your right to cancel or return the goods may vary depending on where the contract was entered and what the contract was for.

On the trader’s premises

When you enter a contract while on the traders premises you have no automatic right to cancel the contract or return any goods for a refund. This is because the law considers that you will have had an opportunity to question the trader and inspect any goods in order to make an informed decision on whether they are right for you. While it’s not a legal requirement some traders will still give you a cooling off period and this will be made clear in the contract’s terms and conditions or on the back of your receipt.  

Best practice would be to always check what the trader’s cancellation policy is before agreeing to anything and even if the trader appears to have no cancellation policy it’s always worthwhile trying to negotiate with them.

Off the trader’s premises

When you enter an agreement with a trader and you’re not on their premises at the time for example they come to your home or the agreement is entered online or by telephone then the law gives you a 14 day (cooling off) period in which you can cancel the agreement or return any goods for a full refund. There are however some exceptions to this for the following;

  • Bespoke goods or services
  • Holidays and travel
  • Items with a short life span such as food
  • The goods or services cost less than £42
  • Services where you’ve agreed to waive your right to cancel, this may have been so that the service could start immediately and often applies to the purchase of online games and applications.

There may be occasions where you wish to make a purchase using finance, this will usually be for a high value item such as a car or furniture and you may arrange this directly with the finance company or the company selling the goods may do this on your behalf. Before deciding to enter a finance agreement you should decide what type of finance suits you best and then shop around to find the best deal with the lowest APR.

Below you’ll find information on how some of the most common financial agreements work:

Hire purchase (HP)

In a HP agreement you are essentially hiring the goods from the finance company over a period which will be specified within the contract. During this period the finance company own the goods so if you fall behind on your payments then you’re at risk of them taking it away. At the end of the contract period you have the option to pay a small fee to buy the goods (transfer ownership to yourself) or to hand them back. You also have the option to hand the goods back before you reach the end of the agreement, this is called voluntary termination. You must have paid half or more of the total finance and not be in arrears. If you have any issues with the goods on a HP agreement, then you would contact the finance company to get them resolved.

Personal contract purchase (PCP) 

PCP agreements work in a similar way to HP where the finance company own the car and you can either hand the car back at the end or pay a fee (balloon payment) to buy the car. In a PCP agreement the finance doesn’t cover the full value of the car for example it may only be £10,000 for a car valued at £15,000, with the remaining £5,000 being the balloon payment at the end should you choose to pay this. If you have any issues with the car then your rights will be with the finance company.

Conditional sale

Goods bought on a conditional sale agreement are owned by the finance company until ownership passes to you, however unlike HP and PCP agreements there is no option to hand the car back and no fee to transfer the ownership, it happens automatically once the final payment has been made. As before your rights will be with the finance company if you have any issues with the goods.

Fixed sum or loan-linked agreement

These types of agreements are different from those above in that you become the owner of the goods from the point of purchase so there is no balloon payment or option to hand the goods back. If you have any issues with the goods your rights will be against the trader that supplied them rather than the finance company. You can however also hold the finance company jointly liable for any issues which can be useful if you and the trader are unable to resolve the issue, this would be under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. 

Independent loan

You enter an agreement for a loan which you then use to pay for goods, with you becoming the owner of the goods at the point of purchase. As the finance company had no part in the purchase of the goods, they will have no liability for any issues that arise with them. Instead your rights will be against the trader that supplied the goods to you.

In order to enter into a legally binding contract all individuals must have the ability to take on board and process the necessary information which would allow them to make an informed decision, this is called capacity to contract.

In certain circumstances it may be considered that an individual doesn’t have the capacity to contract, and this may be due to;

  • Age
  • Ill health
  • Disability

In these instances, the trader may not be able to enforce a contact.

Proving whether there was capacity to contract can be difficult and may require medical evidence, it may also require a judge to look at the evidence and make a decision on whether they believe the contract to be enforceable.

Escalating a Complaint

What issues do you wish to report?

In some circumstances you may wish to report a trader to Trading Standards.

This could be because:

  • they sold you goods that were unsafe or dangerous
  • they sold you something that was counterfeit
  • they misled or pressured you into buying their goods or services

To report an issue to Trading Standards you should contact one of our advisors and you’ll be asked to provide as much information as possible regarding your complaint and the trader.

You can contact us by visiting our contact us page, or by calling 0808 164 6000 (9am-5pm, Mon-Fri).

What happens next?

The details of your complaint will then be passed to Trading Standards, at which point they’ll decide whether to investigate further and whether any action should be taken.

Trading Standards may contact you directly if they require additional information during the course of investigating your complaint but this is not guaranteed. Any information that you pass to Trading Standards is stored on a database which all Trading Standards Services can access, this means that even if they decide not to investigate the complaint initially, the information can be used for any action that may be carried out at a later date.

What can Trading Standards do?

Depending on the circumstances of the complaint Trading Standards may decide to take a trader to court or to educate the trader on the law for the future.  Any action that Trading Standards may decide to take will be separate from any civil claim and action that you have against the trader.

Trading Standards rarely provide feedback to members of the public this in part due to any impact on investigations that are still ongoing but also because they may not have the resources to do so.

Before making the decision to go to court it is important that you first attempt to resolve the issue directly with the trader, this can involve speaking to the trader informally and if necessary, sending formal letters of complaint.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

The next step is to look at Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as a way of resolving the dispute out of court. This is generally cheaper and quicker than court action, with some courts requiring that you have attempted this before accepting your claim.  You can find more information on the ADR process here.

Small Claims Process / Simple Procedure

The Small Claims process in Scotland was replaced by the Simple Procedure in 2016, which aims to make the process for claims of up to £5000 quicker and less formal, as in some cases attending court is not a requirement.

You should complete the claim form which is available online and send this to the Sheriff court. This would usually be the court closest to the trader that your claim is against. You can find more information on submitting a Simple Procedure on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals website.

Some things to consider before taking court action;

  • The costs of making a claim – there is a fee for raising a Simple Procedure which can vary depending on the amount your claim is for, if you’re in receipt of certain benefits you may not have to pay. You can find more information on court fees on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals website.
  • Trading Status – Is the company still trading? Will the trader be able to pay?
  • Payment Enforcement – If the Sheriff finds in your favour can you afford any additional costs to enforce payment?
  • Court Attendance – If the trader submits a defence then you may have to attend court.

If you require legal advice, the Law Society of Scotland has a list of solicitors to choose from.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a process run by independent third parties to try and resolve disputes between consumer and traders outside of court.

If you are in dispute with a trader, it is generally advisable that you exhaust all means of resolving a complaint with that trader. Alternative dispute resolution is now considered an important step in that process and may be considered in any latter legal proceedings.

How does ADR work?

ADR will commonly utilise the following services;

  • Mediation – where a scheme tries to aid both parties in reaching an agreement via negotiation.
  • Arbitration – where a scheme offers a decision on your dispute after reviewing evidence submitted by both parties.

Alternative Dispute Resolution is quicker and cheaper than court action and a lot of schemes offer a free service to consumers. The end to end process also tends to be less formal than court and does not require a face to face meeting between the parties. An ADR scheme will often provide detailed terms explaining what is involved in their process, what timescales apply and list any costs if applicable.

Do all traders offer Alternative Dispute Resolution?

The short answer, unfortunately, is no. For some sectors of business, being a member of an alternative dispute resolution body is not a mandatory requirement, but in others it is. Examples of industries where ADR is mandatory would include the telecommunications sector (broadband, telephone and mobile), the financial sector (banking, insurance) and the property industry (including letting and property agents).

If you are in dispute with a trader within one of the above mandatory industries, please click here for further guidance.

My trader is not in a mandatory ADR industry, how do I utilise ADR in my current dispute?

As a first step you should always try and establish if the trader has a formal complaints process as this may include details of any ADR process that they have put in place.

Whilst a trader may not have a legal requirement to offer you ADR, its is always important to show from your perspective that you have taken all relevant steps to try and progress your case. This could include a) asking the trader formally if they offer ADR or, if they are not, b) offering them the chance to enter the process with you using an independent ADR body.

  • A list of independent ADR bodies including details of their terms can be found HERE.
  • A template letter can be found here which invites your trader to enter the alternative dispute process with you.

If a trader refuses to participate when you suggest this as a next step, this may be evidence that you could provide in any latter legal claim when highlighting your steps taken.

Generally, before participating in alternative dispute resolution you will first be required to have followed the trader’s complaints procedure in full, this usually takes around 8 weeks. Once you’ve reached the end of the trader’s complaints procedure the trader will issue you with final letter to detail the outcome of your complaint.

Once you have this letter you can escalate your complaint to the appropriate ADR or ombudsman service to escalate your complaint, this step is usually available online. (If you’re unsure of which scheme to escalate your complaint to, you can usually find this on the trader’s website, included in their complaints process or you can ask them directly.)

As an aid, please find a list of some of the industry specific ADR schemes below:

Financial

The Financial Ombudsman will look at a range of complaints relating to the financial sector including banking, insurance, credit cards and PayPal.

Web: https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/contact/index.html

Tel: 0800 023 4 567

Energy

The Energy Ombudsman handles disputes about energy providers.

Web: https://www.ombudsman-services.org/complain-now

Legal

The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission can look at complaints about solicitors, advocates and other legal services in Scotland.

Web: https://www.scottishlegalcomplaints.org.uk/

Tel: 0131 201 2130

The Legal Ombudsman who look at complaints about lawyers and claims management companies in England and Wales.

Web: https://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/,

Tel: 0300 555 0333

Property or letting agents

Traders are required to be a member of either of the following two schemes and should make reference to this membership on their website or via their formal complaints process;

The Property Ombudsman. Web: https://www.tpos.co.uk/Tel: 01722 333306

The Property Redress Scheme. Web: https://www.theprs.co.uk/Tel: 0300 321 9418.

Telecoms

If your dispute relates to a trader within the telecoms industry including broadband, mobile or internet services the section ‘Telecom providers complaints and ADR” below may be useful, as we may be able to direct you to the relevant ADR scheme for the trader you are in dispute with.

Below are some of the main telecom providers within the UK and a direct link their formal complaints procedures, including details of the appropriate ADR schemes to utilise when complaining.

If your provider isn’t listed; then we would suggest firstly checking their online complaints process details or contacting them directly to check which scheme they belong to.

BT

Complaints process can be found here 

EE

Complaints process can be found  here

Plusnet

Complaints procedure can be found here.

Sky

Complaints process can be found here

Talk Talk

Complaints process can be found here

Virgin Media

Complaints process can be found  here

Post Office

Complaints process can be found here

Vodafone

Complaints procedure can be found here 

O2

Complaints process can be found here

Three Mobile

Complaints process can be found here

Tesco Mobile

Complaints process can be found here

BT, complaints process can be found here 

ADR schemes:

EE, complaints process can be found here

ADR schemes:

Sky, complaints process can be found here

ADR schemes:

Talk Talk, complaints process can be found here

ADR schemes:

Three Mobile, complaints process can be found here

ADR schemes:

Virgin Media, complaints process can be found here

ADR schemes:

Vodafone, complaints procedure can be found here  

ADR schemes:

  • CISAS (Communication and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme) for disputes relating to TV, broadband, phone and mobile.
  • Web: https://www.cedr.com/consumer/cisas/, Tel: 0207 520 3814

Scams

How to Spot a Scam

Every day, scamsters and fraudsters are coming up with new and inventive ways to obtain money They may contact you online, by phone, post or in person so they can obtain your personal details to get money from you or steal your details so they can pretend to be you. 

Some scams are easier to spot than others, but you should be careful of anyone:

  • Asking you to make upfront payments, especially if it’s to release funds for a loan or prize money.
  • You’ve never heard of or had dealings with in the past. For example, you’ve won a competition you don’t remember entering or you owe money to a company you haven’t heard of.
  • Asking for personal information – like your bank details, passwords or PIN numbers, legitimate companies would never ask for this type of information.
  • Pressuring you into a sale.
  • Asking you to make a payment using gift vouchers, wire or bank transfer, where there is less protection if something goes wrong.
  • Offering a free service or trial, then asking for payment details to complete the order.
  • Offering investment opportunities with guaranteed returns. You should also check that any company is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority before you give them your money.

As a general rule if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is and it’s always worth exercising extra caution just to be sure.

If you’ve been contacted by someone and you’re concerned they may be trying to scam you, don’t:

  • Send them any money or buy anything, you should always do your homework before agreeing to anything. For example, checking online reviews of the company.
  • Give them any personal information, bank details, passwords or PIN numbers. If you’ve given out this type of information, you should change all passwords and pins and notify your bank.
  • Download any attachments or files in emails or click on any links. If you have then you should check that your devices security is up to date and run a virus scan.
  • Ring any numbers you’ve received in an email or letter, especially if it’s a premium rate number. If you’re unsure about the cost of dialling a particular number, contact your service provider for advice.
  • Let them into your house. If you’re concerned about someone that you have allowed into your house and is refusing to leave or someone knocking on doors in your area call the police.

Some common scams are listed below:

Tax scam

Posing as a government dept such as HMRC, you will usually receive a pre-recorded message advising that you owe unpaid tax and if not paid you will be taken to court. If you choose the option to speak with someone you may be asked to buy gift vouchers to the value of the debt owed and provide them with the numbers.

Push Payment

In some occasions you may be due a payment to genuine company and receive an invoice with bank details (usually by email) which you pay only to discover that this invoice was not from the company but in fact scammers who have hacked the email trail and the company have not received your payment.

Investment scam

You see an advert usually on social media offering investment opportunities, you enter your details asking for more information and they call you almost immediately guaranteeing a return on any money you invest. They talk you into making a small invest which they immediately tell you has increased and talk you into investing more and more.  Sometimes these payments can amount to thousands of pounds. If you ask to withdraw any funds from your account, you are told that you have to pay a fee first.  You never receive any money back and if you refuse to pay more money they disappear.

Copycat websites

You looking to renew your passport, European Health Card or apply for an Esta or Visa and you come across what appears to be the genuine government website only for you to later discover that it was not the official site and you were charged more than you would have been had you used the official site for your application.

Timeshares recovery

You have previously taken a timeshare with a company abroad and you are contacted by a solicitor or claims company (usually based abroad) stating the company has been investigated for fraud and as a victim you are due compensation. You are then asked to make a payment usually to cover legal fees in order to have the funds released to you but the scammer pockets the cash and you get nothing.

I think I have been scammed

Realising that you may have been the victim of a scam can be extremely upsetting and worrying

Once you have made a payment some scammers will continue to contact you to try and talk you into making further payments. As soon as you realise that it’s a scam you should stop all contact with the scammer.

If you’ve paid on a credit or debit card, then you can ask your card provider if they’ll refund the payment. If you paid through PayPal then you can raise a dispute and ask if they’’ claim the money back, although there’s no guarantee that you will get your money back.

It’s very important that you report any potential scams as soon as possible, as this helps organisations like us to work with others such as Trading Standards and the Police to educate the public so that others are aware of scammers and their activities.The Financial Conduct Authority has a website (register.fca.org.uk) where you can check whether a bank or financial services firm is registered.
Remember, you can report suspected scams and suspicious activity at scamwatch.scot

Types of Scam

Scammers posing as Amazon (or their associates) contact consumers by email or text, advising that payment has failed, or that their details require updating.

This is an attempt to gather payment / bank account information, or personal information from the target that can be used as part of a bigger scam.

When it comes to Amazon scams, giveaways include – 

– Long complex email addresses (some of these not even from an Amazon email address).

– Spelling mistakes in the email.

– Blurry or pixelated branding on emails.

Avoid clicking on any links if at all unsure, and check account status (i.e., failed payment methods), using the official website.

Consumers have reported receiving text messages regarding deliveries, some of which contain links to download an app.

Scammers are using this ploy to install malware on the mobile devices of the consumers being targeted.

This malware allows the scammer to access the target’s devices and access information such as bank details.

Malware can also spread to other devices.

This scam is being carried out through messages sent across all mobile networks.

It has been reported that the SMS claims to be from the delivery company DHL, but the names of other couriers could be used.

Consumers have reported that the messages state that a parcel is arriving and encourages the recipient to click a link that leads to an app installer.

It says this installer is a parcel tracker app that will track the delivery but is actually the malware.

Read more on Android ‘FluBot’ Scam Texts / SMS.

A typical example of banking scams is a scammer contacting their target and saying fraud has taken place with their bank account.

They try to instil panic in the target by saying that their money is not safe. They then offer to transfer it to a save account. This account is actually the scammer’s and is used to access and steal the target’s money.

This kind of scam can be avoided if you recognise it .

Remember that the bank, police or any other organisation will never ask for any of the following:

– Your 4-digit PIN, password or any other confidential information over the phone.
– To give them goods to hold for safe keeping.
– To purchase anything with your card.
– To send a staff member to your home to collect cash or personal information.
– To transfer money to another account due to fraud or to keep it safe.

If you lost money due to a banking / financial scam and the business refuses to give you a refund, you can escalate the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Blackmail scams are an attempt to force payment from a target by threatening to share information that the target does not wish certain people, groups, or the public to know. Blackmailers contact the target and show evidence (which may not even be real) of the target doing something that they would not wish others to know. If you are contacted by a blackmailer, it is important that you remain calm.

Do not pay the blackmailer under any circumstances. This will not stop them from threatening you and they may ask for more. Do not reply to them.

Instead, you should contact the police on 101. Gather all possible evidence to help them resolve the issue. This includes the username and ID of the person that blackmailed you (if applicable). The police should not pass judgement on you and will keep any information about you confidential.

If this was done online, inform your internet provider. Change any relevant passwords immediately and update any antivirus software. If you were blackmailed over Facebook, suspend, but do not delete your account. If the blackmailer used a video to contact you, ask the website to block it.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an opportunity for scammers and organised criminals to prey on members of the public, particularly older and more vulnerable people who are more isolated from family and friends than usual.

Some of the types of Covid-19 scams include:

Testing Kit Scams
COVID-19 / Coronavirus testing kits – adverts are appearing on social media, advising consumers of the availability of COVID-19 testing kits. Legitimate medical testing will not be sold door-to door or
through social media advertisements.

Test & Protect Scams
In some cases, a message or phone call claiming to be from the NHS Test and Protect Service is sent or made to households, claiming they have been in contact with someone who has tested
positive for COVID-19 and that they should isolate and take a test.

The scammers ask for the citizens home address details so a testing kit can be sent out. Bank details are then requested to
cover the cost of the testing kit.

The public should be aware that the genuine NHS Test and Protect Service will never:
– Ask for bank details, PIN numbers or passwords.
– Ask for any payment or request you purchase any product including a test.
– Ask you to download any software or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smart
phone or tablet.
– Ask that you call any premium rate numbers (i.e. 09 or 087 numbers).
– Ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts.
– Tell you the identity of the person infected.
– Disclose any of your personal or medical information to your contacts.
– Ask you to access any website that does not belong to the Government or NHS.

If you believe you have been the target of a scam, you should contact your bank / service provider as soon as possible if account details have been shared, or money has been transferred / payments made. You should also contact the police to report the situation.

consumeradvice.scot can refer this on to the relevant parties at Trading Standards for investigation.

What Should I Be Aware of Regarding Crypto Scams?

UK consumers are being increasingly targeted by crypto asset​​​​​ related investment scams.

Certain crypto assets, like Bitcoin and Ether (also known as cryptocurrencies) are not regulated in the UK. This means that buying, selling, or transferring these crypto assets falls outside the FCA’s remit.

The also applies to the operation of a cryptocurrency exchange.

However, some types of crypto asset ​​​​​​products may be or may involve regulated investments depending on their nature and how they are structured. For instance, firms that sell regulated investments with an underlying crypto asset element may need to be authorised by the FCA to do so. The FCA has previously issued consumer warnings on the risks of investing in cryptocurrency Contracts For Difference (CFDs) and Initial Coin Offerings.  

What Scams are Circulating?

In recent months, the FCA has received an increasing number of reports about crypto asset ​​​​​​investment scams. Some of them may involve regulated activities, others do not, but all use similar tactics.

Scammers have been targeting consumers searching for investments online through search engines like Google and Bing. Although some scammers offer high returns to tempt you into investing, they may also offer realistic returns to make their offer appear more legitimate. Those offering or promoting products or investment opportunities found through search engines are not necessarily authorised or regulated by the FCA. You can check the FCA Warning List for firms to avoid.

How Do Crypto Asset Investment Scams Work?

Crypto asset fraudsters usually advertise on social media and typically use the images of celebrities or well-known individuals to promote cryptocurrency investments. The ads then link to professional-looking websites. Consumers are then persuaded to make investments with the firm using cryptocurrencies or traditional currencies.

The firms operating the scams are usually based outside the UK but will claim to have a UK presence, such as insisting they are from a prestigious City of London address.

Scam firms can manipulate software to distort prices and investment returns. They may scam people into buying non-existent crypto assets.

They are also known to suddenly close consumers’ online accounts and refuse to transfer the funds to them or ask for more money before the funds can be transferred.

How Do I Protect Myself From this Scam?

Be wary of adverts online and on social media promising high returns on investments in crypto asset or crypto asset-related products.

Most firms advertising and selling investments in crypto assets are not authorised by the FCA. This means that if you invest in certain crypto assets you will not have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme if things go wrong.

While the FCA do not regulate crypto assets like Bitcoin or Ether, they do regulate certain crypto asset derivatives (such as futures contracts, contracts for difference and options), as well as those crypto assets they would consider securities. A firm must be authorised by them to advertise or sell these products in the UK – check the FCA’s Register to make sure the firm is authorised. You can also check their Warning List of firms to avoid.

You should do further research on the product you are considering and the firm you are considering investing with. Check with Companies House to see if the firm is registered as a UK company and for directors’ names. To see if others have posted any concerns, search online for the firm’s name, directors’ names, and the product you are considering.

Always be wary if you are contacted out of the blue, pressured to invest quickly or promised returns that sound too good to be true.  

To summarise:

  • Do not assume it is authentic – professional-looking websites, adverts or social media posts do not indicate that an investment opportunity is genuine. Criminals can exploit the names of well-known brands or individuals to make their scams appear legitimate. 
     
  • Do not be rushed or pressured into making a decision – a genuine bank or financial organisation will not force you to make a financial transaction on the spot. Always be wary if you are pressured to invest quickly or promised returns that sound too good to be true. 
     
  • Stay in control – avoid unsolicited investment offers, especially those over cold calls. If you are thinking about making an investment, get impartial advice from an independent financial adviser – never use an adviser from the company that contacted you, as this may be part of the scam.


What Should I Do If I Have Been Scammed?

You can report the firm or scam to us by using our Quick Reporting Tool at scamwatch.scot which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


If you have invested in unregulated crypto assets, you may not have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and you are unlikely to get your money back. 

If you have already invested in a scam, fraudsters are likely to target you again or sell your details to other criminals.

The follow-up scam may be separate or related to the previous fraud, such as an offer to get your money back or to buy back the investment after you pay a fee.

If you have any concerns at all about a potential scam, report this immediately.

Further Information


The consumeradvice.scot service works with various partners including Trading Standards to help catch scammers in the act and stop them in their tracks.

Our Quick Reporting Tool at scamwatch.scot is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Always report a scam – they can happen to anyone and reporting prevents other people from being harmed. Help us to do our job in protecting Scottish consumers by reporting suspected scams and suspicious activity to us.

Doorstep Scammers often arrive on their target’s doorstep unannounced and offer unrequested goods and services.

Often, they claim to be offering repairs and maintenance of homes and gardens. The prices for these goods and services can be heavily inflated and the work / goods of very low quality.

You should not feel rushed into a sale for any goods or services. If you do feel pressured to accept, do not be afraid to end the conversation and close the door.

If you feel intimidated or threatened, you can call 999.

If you do not wish to be bothered by salesmen at your doorstep, put up a sticker or sign saying “No Cold Calling” on your door.

Sometimes scammers impersonate Charities on the doorstep to try and extract donation money from their targets. Do not donate to charities on the doorstep unless you are absolutely sure they are legitimate.

You can use the Scottish Charity Regulator list to see if it is officially registered.

Avoiding scams from traders

When using the services of a trader, it is best to find one that is reputable and proactively contact them.

www.approvedtrader.scot offers postcode search access to all firms that are members of a trading standards approved scheme run by a Scottish local authority, and can be relied upon to act honestly and reliably.

Approved Trader is also supported by Scottish Government and gives householders a choice of local reputable traders rather than risking them accepting work over the doorstep from scammers.

You can – 

  • Check to make sure the trader has an established trading address and landline phone number.
  • Do not pay in cash if possible.
  • Ensure that your get a receipt.
  • Get quotes about the work taking place and the price.
  • If the work is not of satisfactory quality, do not pay the trader until the issues are rectified.
  • Make sure that any guarantees are backed by insurance.
  • Put a ‘No Cold Calling’ notice on your door.
  • Under no circumstances should you pay up front

HMRC / Tax scams try to convince the consumer that they are either owed a tax rebate from HMRC, or owe more tax than they have paid.

These scams can be very convincing, often displaying the official branding and logos of HMRC.

Scammers can use telephone calls to convince targets to part with their information.

Remember that HMRC will never request bank details via email or telephone on their first contact.

If you believe you have been the target of a scam, you should contact your bank / service provider in the
first instance if account details have been shared, or money has been transferred.

You should also
contact the police to report the situation.

consumeradvice.scot can refer this on to the relevant parties at Trading Standards for investigation.

Remember – 

– Avoid sharing personal information, and bank or card details.

– Check for obvious giveaways (Spelling errors, pixelated logos, and long complex email addresses).

– Someone genuinely calling from HMRC will not mind you asking to call them back (on the official number).

 

This is the type of scam where the target receives an unsolicited and unexpected message advising them that they have inherited or won a large sum of money.

The scammers gain in these situations by requesting a small sum of money up front that they claim is required to process the prize.

In these circumstances, once the payment has been made, the scammer either disappears, or fabricates a series of further fees for the target to pay.

This is scam can be carried out via various methods – via standard mail, text message, email, instant messenger, or social media.

The scammers evolve over time on this type of scam with changes in technology and there are variations on the way this scam is carried out.

Remember – 

This type of scam usually appears as something that is too good to be true.

A windfall on a lottery or game that the targeted person has never played or entered.

Legitimate wins are exactly that – getting money given to you and not the reverse.

In circumstances like this, remaining vigilant and ensuring we are not giving up money without considering the situation with care is important.

The term ‘malware’ is an amalgamation of ‘malicious’ and ‘software’. This is a particularly vicious type of cyber-attack that can take various forms. The ultimate motive of the scammer is to obtain control of the device.

There are also situations in which the cyber-scammer can use malware to infect a device and then use this to lock the person out of their emails and personal documents, demanding payment to be made to remove the virus.

Threats can extend to the information which the hacker has obtained from the target’s device(s), threatening that the individual’s web history will be made public (in some cases mentioning the use of adult sites). Even more disturbingly, scammers have threatened to release webcam footage of the victim which they have obtained from the device(s) without the individual’s knowledge.

Paying the scammer the sums requested rarely solves the problem, and may lead to further instances of extortion; either using the same information to request even more money be paid, or the sale of this information on to other scammers who can make similar attempts. 

The most important thing to note when threatened with cyber blackmail is to ensure that no payment is made and immediately inform the police and your internet service provider. These acts are criminal and need to be reported as such.

If you believe you have been the target of a scam, you should contact your bank / service provider in the first instance if account details have been shared, or money has been transferred. You should also contact the police to report the situation.

consumeradvice.scot can also refer this on to the relevant parties at Trading Standards for investigation.

‘Number spoofing’ is when a scam caller changes the appearance of the incoming number to their target to look different to the number they are calling from. This can appear as a different number or show as another caller ID (commonly through text messages).

Sometimes, organisations can do this legitimately so that you know who is getting in contact, but sometimes this is the deliberate act of scammers to appear like the legitimate party contacting you.

Avoid giving any contact information to anyone contacting you directly, and avoid clicking any links in text messages, as this may be the scammer attempting to gather your information fraudulently.

If you are contacted by an organisation claiming to be your bank, or a service provider, they will not mind you asking to call them back. If you choose to do this, ensure that you call the number listed on a previous statement or bill, or the official website for the company / organisation.

If you believe that you have been targeting by a number spoofing scammer and they have gathered information, you should contact the bank / service provider that the scammer claimed to be contacting you from to report this.

You can also report this to the police if the scammer has been successful in gathering information / accessing your account(s), as well as report this to consumeradvice.scot, who can refer this on to Trading Standards on your behalf.

How to stop getting nuisance calls –

  • Make sure that you do not give your number to organisations that may cold call you.
  • Do not give PPI reclaim companies permission to call you. You can report the company to the Information Commissioner’s office if they call you without permission.
  • You can register with the telephone preference service, who will add your number to a list that companies cannot legally call numbers from.
  • Use a call blocking product to prevent nuisance calls. Which? has advice on different products and Ofcom has information on call blocking services that your phone provider has.

What to do if you receive a nuisance call –

  • Do not give any information, regardless of what they tell you.
  • Do not panic. Panic is used by scammers to cause irrational thinking.
  • If the scammer claims to be your bank, visit the bank in person rather than doing anything over the phone.
  • If you are in any doubt, hang up. It is always the better option to be cautious.
  • Under no circumstances give out any personal or financial information (e.g. bank details).

How to stop getting nuisance texts –

  • If you receive a nuisance text from a company that you have given your number to, reply with the word “STOP” and nothing else.
  • If you do not know who is sending the text, do not reply.

Report a nuisance call or text – 

You can report nuisance calls and texts to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Silent Calls (line is active but nobody is there)

Silent calls are when you pick up the telephone and there is no noise on the other end.

These calls can also be made accidentally by automatic dialling technology by companies. These automatic diallers can mistake you answering for an answering machine and cuts off the call without playing a message, or hearing anything.

If you are receiving silent calls, you should attempt to identify the caller by dialling ‘1471’. Silent calls can be reported to Ofcom by calling them on 0300 123 3333, or through their online complaint form at Silent and Abandoned Calls Complaint Monitoring | Ofcom (force.com).

If you would rather write to them, you can do this by posting a letter detailing the complaint to:

Ofcom, Riverside House, 2a Southwark Bridge Road, London, SE1 9HA.

You should include information such as:

  • The caller’s name and telephone number.
  • The number of times you have been called by the same number.
  • The frequency of the calls.

Ofcom take reports of complaints about silent calls seriously, and may take enforcement action against the company, including imposing fines of up to £2 million.

Missed call scams

When you have a missed call on your mobile phone from an unrecognised number, don’t call it back until you are sure it’s not a scammer.

Scammers can use automatic diallers to contact consumers, with the call lasting very briefly and appearing as a missed call on your mobile.

These numbers vary, either looking like mobile numbers (starting with 070 or 076) or non-geographic numbers (starting with 084, 087, 090, 091, or 118). With all these numbers, you can be charged for the duration any calls you make to them.

When you receive calls from numbers that you do not recognise, take care not to respond to them, as they may charge large amounts for connection and the duration of the call.

If you believe you have been targeted by a scammer, you can report this to your telecoms provider, by contacting their customer service number, but many now have places on their company websites that you can report these issues.

consumeradvice.scot can also provide information on this.

Phishing is the use of email and postal methods for a scammer to gather information.

Vishing is the use of the telephone or ‘voice’ to obtain your personal details.

Smishing is the use of text message or ‘SMS’ to do the same thing.

All these methods are used by scammers to trick consumers into supplying information that can be used on its own, or paired with additional information to scam, extort or defraud. Stay vigilant – these scammers are very convincing, some even offering links to websites that look like the real deal.

If you believe you have been the target of a scam, you should contact your bank / service provider in the first instance if account details have been shared, or money has been transferred. You should also contact the police to report the situation.

consumeradvice.scot can refer this on to the relevant parties at Trading Standards for investigation.

Postal scams conducted through the mail can easily deceive targets into paying for low quality or non-existent goods, services, and competitions.

Examples of such scams include but are not limited to the following:

  • Charities and fund raisers.
  • Clairvoyance, fortune telling and religious groups.
  • health products.
  • Jewellery and similar goods.
  • Lotteries, prize draws and other competitions.

Remember that these scams can be very well presented and convincing. Not only should you be on guard for these yourself but be aware of anyone you know that has been targeted.

It is easy for this type of scammer to repeatedly target the same person due to the addictive nature of some of these mail purchases.

Mail that is fraudulent can be reported to the Royal Mail by writing to ‘Freepost Scam Mail’.

Alternatively you can email scam.mail@royalmail.com or call 0800 0113 466.

Romance scams play on the emotions of the person being scammed.

Many of these scammers use flattery and ‘love bombing’ – i.e., showering a person with compliments and declarations of affection very early on in a conversation to gain trust.

When this trust is built, the scammer uses this and emotional blackmail to gather information or trick the target into giving them money.

People who have been targeted by romance scams can experience embarrassment about being scammed. These scams can often be played out over long periods of time, with the scammer gaining the trust of the consumer being scammed.

If you believe you have been the target of a romance scam, you should contact your bank in the first instance if financial details have been shared, or money has been transferred. You should also contact the police to report the situation.

consumeradvice.scot can refer this on to the relevant parties at Trading Standards for investigation.

Read more about this in our article – ‘Romance Scams: Top Tips to Avoid a Broken Heart and Empty Bank Account’.