Top Trading Standards tips to ensure a very merry Christmas

A view of Sutton High Street.

Support your local high street this festive season – but make sure you know your rights as a consumer!

With the winter holidays upon us, Trading Standards have put together some seasonal top tips to help ensure that it will be a truly happy Christmas all round:

1. By law, all goods must be of satisfactory quality, as they were described and fit for their intended purpose.  If not, provided you act quickly, you have the right to your money back or to ask for a replacement or a repair.

2. Remember that it is usually the purchaser of goods – and not the person who receives them as a gift – who has consumer rights if they turn out to be faulty.  However, shops may agree to sign over these rights to the person receiving the gift – ask the shop if they will give a ‘gift receipt’.

3. Check goods to make sure they work properly and are not damaged before you wrap them.  Keep packaging, instructions for use and any other information until you know that everything is all right.

4. Hang on to your receipts.  Traders are entitled to ask for some proof of purchase if you return faulty goods and it can make life a lot easier if you can prove when and where you bought them and how much you paid.

5. Your rights are the same wherever you buy goods – from a high street shop, a market trader, a street trader with a suitcase or from a temporary bargain shop.  However, your chances of returning goods diminish if there’s a possibility that traders may not be around after Christmas.

6. Goods bought in a sale should perform the same as if they were priced normally.  Your rights are the same unless defects are brought to your attention before you buy or should have been obvious if you’d examined the goods.

7. Buy the right size and colour.  If there’s nothing wrong with the item and you simply made a mistake or changed your mind, then you have NO legal rights.  Some retailers do have goodwill policies allowing these returns, so ask before you buy and get them to write the details on the receipt.

8. Consider buying goods costing over £100 with a credit card – you may get extra protection from the card issuer.

9. Don’t make any spur-of-the-moment decisions to buy on credit.  Compare APRs, consider the total cost involved and how long you’ll have to pay – you don’t want to still be paying for this year’s gifts next Christmas.

10. Watch out for fake goods.  Be suspicious of cheap discs and tapes or designer clothes and perfumes.  Your loved one won’t thank you if their gift smells more like Canal No. 5 or if that DVD turns out to be a DUD!

If you need civil advice on how to deal with a complaint or enquiry, please contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06. The Citizens Advice consumer service provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues.

You can also use the internet to contact the Citizens Advice consumer service. Please visit www.adviceguide.org.uk where a wide range of consumer information and advice is available.

Doorstep callers thwarted after attempt to con resident out of £6,000 for building repairs

Sutton logo big full colour

Sutton residents are being encouraged to be very wary of doorstep callers offering to do building repairs to their home.

The advice comes from Sutton Council’s Trading Standards team after an incident when two men called at the home of a West Sutton resident, claiming to be a surveyor and a builder.

The men told the elderly resident they worked for the agent of the unoccupied house next door. They said that water had been coming through the ceiling from the loft and had made the adjoining wall unstable and in need of urgent repair as it was in danger of collapsing. They offered to carry out immediate repairs to the wall, which included hiring a dehumidifier, for just under £6,000.

The elderly resident went to her bank in Sutton town centre and told staff she wanted to transfer £5,700 to another bank account. When challenged she said the transfer was for a family member, then admitted it was to builders who had cold called.

The men had told her to tell the bank the money was for a family member as it would be easier to obtain the money from the bank. However, bank staff did not permit the money transfer to go ahead.

Cllr Nick Emmerson, Lead Councillor of Trading Standards at Sutton Council, said:

“We commend the bank staff for their quick thinking in preventing a Sutton resident from making a large cash withdrawal that was completely out of character. Many elderly residents have lost money after tricksters have demanded money upfront for materials without carrying out any work, have greatly overcharged for straightforward repairs or have deliberately caused damage to argue that costly repairs are needed. Such opportunists are bad news for all our residents and are a blight on honest and hardworking traders, which is why the council has the Safer Sutton Trader Scheme.

“This list has been thoroughly vetted by Trading Standards and offers a range of professional tradespeople in the borough who are neither bogus builders nor unscrupulous opportunists. All of the businesses are checked by Trading Standards to ensure they are providing an assured service before they are listed and promoted by Sutton Council and the Met Police in Sutton.”

Sutton Council’s Safer Sutton Trader Scheme helps residents to avoid bogus builders and unscrupulous traders. To find an approved trader, please visit the Safer Sutton Trader Scheme website or call 020 8770 5070 for details.

If you are a trader wishing to join the Safer Sutton Trader Scheme, follow the Kingston & Sutton shared service on Twitter here, follow the #SaferSuttonTrader hashtag here, or call the Trading Standards team on 020 8770 5632.

The Citizens Advice website has advice about how to safeguard your interests when employing a contractor.

Sutton Trading Standards advises residents to obtain three quotes for any work they want carried out. The law requires that where you contract with a tradesperson in your home, you must be provided with a 14-day cooling off period. All reputable traders will provide you with these cancellation documents.

New service offers full range of information and advice to Sutton residents

A new, integrated, accessible and expert information and advice service is available to Sutton residents from this week.

ALPS – Advice Link in Partnership with Sutton is being led by Sutton Citizens Advice Bureaux and supported by organisations from the Sutton Together consortium including Age UK Sutton and Sutton Carers Centre, as well as the borough’s Library Service.

ALPS is being funded by Sutton Council and the Big Lottery’s Reaching Communities Fund. The council ran a competitive tender for information and advice services. The ALPS bid won the contract, ensuring borough residents have access to expert information and advice services for at least three years.

One ALPS telephone number – 020 8254 2616020 8254 2616 – provides access to Sutton Citizens Advice Bureaux, Sutton Carers Centre, Age UK Sutton, and Sutton Library and Heritage Services, which is providing local community information. The 020 8254 2616020 8254 2616 telephone number also provides access to other services including the Citizens Advice Consumer Service and out-of-hours connections to the Samaritans and the National Domestic Violence helpline.

Whenever possible, the caller will speak to the right organisation at the first contact and the enquiry will be dealt with at that first point of contact.

Sutton Library staff are providing information from local libraries and when necessary will assist people contacting the ALPS service through its website, www.suttonalps.org.uk.

Cllr Simon Wales, Deputy Leader of Sutton Council and Lead Member for Finance, Assets and the Voluntary Sector, said:

“Sutton Council is delighted to continue its financial support of information and advice services through the ALPS service as it will provide borough residents with the information and advice they need.

“ALPS will provide an invaluable service to Sutton residents and we are delighted that it is bringing together local charities in this way.”

Steve Triner, Chief Executive of Sutton Citizens Advice Bureaux, said:

ALPS is a partnership of local organisations with real expertise in issues such as welfare benefits, debt and housing. The new service aims to give local people the right information and advice, from the right organisation at the right time.”

Rachael MacLeod, Chief Executive at Sutton Carers Centre, added:

“Family members and friends caring for someone with an illness or disability need the right information and advice to care well, and to keep themselves well. Our teams will add health and social care expertise to the ALPS partnership, to benefit community members of all ages.

“We are really excited by this new way of working as we think it will mean an improved quality of life for many residents.”

Sutton Council seeks residents’ feedback on local advice services

sutton_council_logoSutton Council has launched a new survey asking residents how they would prefer to access information and advice about issues they face in Sutton such as finding out if they are eligible for social housing, what childcare services are available locally, and who can help if they are caring for an elderly relative.

The survey is part of a review of information and advice services in the borough which includes looking at services commissioned by Sutton Council in the voluntary and community sectors as well as reviewing the council’s own services. The poll is being carried out through the council’s online residents’ panel which has around 1,000 members, and it asks residents where they tend to turn for advice and what they expect from information providers.

Those who are not members of the online panel can tell the council what they think by visiting www.sutton.gov.uk/consultations.

Councillor Simon Wales, Sutton Council’s Lead Member for Finance, Assets and the Voluntary Sector, said: “We want to ensure that all residents can access information and advice when they need to and in ways that suit them. Whether it’s advice about dealing with debt, finding social housing or accessing healthcare, it’s important that residents know where to go and that they are given the support they need. I hope that as many residents as possible will take part in this survey and give us their feedback so that we can improve the services provided by both the council and our partners.”

Age UK Sutton holds ‘Know your rights day’

On Friday 7th March Age UK Sutton is holding their next flagship ‘Know your rights day’.

There will be financial help and advice, support with debt, practical help to claim benefits, information about how to access direct payments for social care, help with NHS costs and free sessions with a local solicitor.

For those struggling with paying for the basics such as rent or a mortgage, fuel bills or weekly shopping then the Age UK Sutton team will be available between 10am – 2pm at:

·         Barclays Bank, 43 High Street, Sutton; or

·         Outside TazZa Coffee shop , 188 High Street, Sutton
(where their new advice van will be parked)

There are limited free sessions with the solicitor so please book in advance.

For more information call 020 8770 4510 or email advice@ageuksutton.org.uk

Judy Okeke
Individual Services Senior Manager
AGE UK Sutton

Money saving experts give free advice to Sutton bill payers

Sutton Guardian: Residents taking part in a money saving session

Residents taking part in a money saving session…

Free money saving workshops are being held for Sutton residents worried about rising energy bills or who are struggling to manage their cash.  The Sutton Housing Partnership will host the workshops at its offices in Sutton Gate in Carshalton Road, starting with Energy Best Deal on Tuesday, February 18, from 2pm to 4pm. The workshop will be repeated at the same time on Tuesday March 11. On Thursday, February 27, a workshop entitled How To Manage Your Money will take place between 10am and 12pm.

Cliff Haynes, Sutton Housing Partnership’s head of income said: “We are here to offer residents all the help they need to get the best deal for their gas and electricity. We know from working with the Energy Best Deal that residents have found these sessions really helpful, resulting in many people saving money on their bills.”

To book your place on one of the courses, call the Sutton Housing Partnership’s Customer Care Team on 020 8915 2000.

Debt Advice

Sutton Council recently took the decision to block access to websites of pay-day lenders such as Wonga and Quick Quid across our main computer network. This includes PCs in libraries and in the civic buildings in Sutton town centre.

We did this because of concerns that some people, who borrow from pay-day lenders, end up in even more financial trouble given the high interest rates and penalties charged for missed or late loan repayments.

Rather than these lenders being the default choice for people who need access to extra cash, we want to promote the alternatives available and provide information about the various organisations that offer advice and help.

Managing your money

On our website, there’s information about the basics of managing your money. It focuses on the “five Bs”: budgeting, benefits, bills, banking and borrowing.

You could also look at some of the online training that’s available to help you manage your finances efficiently. CAP UK is one of a number of providers. You can also call CAP on 01274 760720 to speak to one of its advisors.

The Croydon, Merton and Sutton Credit Union

CMSU may be able to provide you with a loan if you have no other access to borrowing or don’t have a bank account. It’s much more affordable than using a pay-day or doorstop lender. CMS can also provide a savings account.

“I’ve got money worries – what should I do?”

The answer is: don’t panic.

But, the sooner you ask for help the better. We know that admitting you’re having financial problems can be difficult, but asking for assistance earlier is so much better in the long run. Here is a list of the many organisations which can help:

Sutton Citizens Advice Bureau
020 8405 3552

The Money Advice Service
0300 500 5000

Is an independent service, set up by government, to help people make the most of their money. It gives free, unbiased money advice to everyone across the UK – online, over the phone and face-to-face.

National Debt Helpline
0808 808 4000

The helpline provides free confidential and independent advice on how to deal with debt problems. It offers debt advice for people living in different parts of the country.

Debt Support Trust
0800 085 0226

The Debt Support Trust is a not-for-profit debt advice charity with trained, friendly debt advisors who can advise you on suitable debt solutions. It is a national debt advice charity helping people across the UK.

Useful websites

www.suttoncabx.org.uk – 020 8405 3552

Sutton Borough CABx Service is a registered charity that provides information and advice on issues such as housing, welfare benefits, employment, debt and relationship breakdown etc. We are members of Citizens Advice – the national citizens advice organisation.

www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk – 0300 500 5000

We are an independent service, set up by government to help people make the most of their money, we give free, unbiased money advice to everyone across the UK – online, over the phone and face to face.

www.capmoney.org0800 328 0006

CAP Money is a revolutionary money management course that teaches people budgeting skills and a simple, cash-based system that really works.

This course will help anyone to get more in control of their finances, so they can save, give and prevent debt. CAP Money is a course devised by the award winning debt counselling charity, Christians Against Poverty.

www.nationaldebthelpline.co.uk0808 808 4000

The helpline that provides free confidential and independent advice on how to deal with debt problems. We offer debt advice for people living in different parts of the country. This is because the law concerning debt varies depending on whether you live in England and Wales or Scotland. You can be confident that the advice we offer is targeted to you.

www.payplan.com – 0800 280 2816

Payplan is funded in a unique way: rather than charging their clients, they receive donations from the credit industry. But don’t worry they remain completely impartial and deal with creditors to find you a solution that is affordable and sustainable.

www.debtsupporttrust.org.uk – 0800 085 0226

Debt Support Trust is a not-for-profit debt advice charity with trained, friendly debt advisors who can advise you on suitable debt solutions. We are a national debt advice charity helping people across the UK, whether you live in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland we can help you with debt advice.

www.croydonsavers.co.uk020 8760 5711

The Croydon, Merton and Sutton Credit Union can offer affordable loans for Sutton residents.

Sutton Citizens Advice scoops award

Staff at Sutton Citizens Advice Bureau are celebrating after winning a prestigious award at the organisation’s national conference last week.

They were recognised with a Social Policy award for their excellent work in raising issues of welfare benefits and legal aid throughout the past year.

Steve Triner, Chief Executive of Sutton Borough CAB, said: “We are delighted to win this award. It is especially pleasing to be recognised by our peers for the work we do.”

In the year ending April 2012, Sutton CAB was visited by 8,200 clients, which represented a rise of more than 100 from the previous year.

Welfare benefits, debt, housing, employment and family issues, including relationship breakdown and access to children, are the top five issues that clients have arrived to discuss in the past 12 months.

Cllr. Simon Wales, Lead Councillor for Finance, Assets and the Voluntary Sector, said: “Sutton CAB provides a valuable service for the community and we are pleased that their good work has been recognised.

“Sutton Council is proud of its record of working closely with voluntary groups and Citizens Advice is just one of the many excellent resources available to residents.”