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Government cracks down on unfair selling

The Government is cracking down on aggressive and unfair trading practices with the implementation of its Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD).

Ian McCartney, consumer minister, said the new law will stop businesses from using ‘deceptive and intimidating sales practices that are unfair but not currently illegal’.

The new directive will outlaw falsely claiming or creating the impression that the trader is not acting for purposes relating to his trade, business, craft or profession or falsely representing oneself as a consumer.

For example, if a second-hand car dealership puts a used car on a nearby road and displays a hand written advert reading: ‘One careful owner. Good family run-around. £2,000 or nearest offer’, this would be considered a breach of the new regulations. The sign gives the impression that the seller is not selling as a trader.

Among the 31 types of unfair practices it will outlaw are:

  • prize draw scams, such as those that con people into calling premium-rate phone numbers;
  • bogus 'closing down' sales;
  • refusing to leave a customer's home when asked to do so;
  • making persistent and unwanted telephone calls encouraging consumers to buy products such as double glazing; and
  • preying on elderly peoples' fears about their personal security to sell them burglar alarms

    McCartney added: "This law will give the cowboys nowhere to hide. It will crack down on underhand sales practices that are all too often used to back consumers into a corner. Traders who use bully-boy tactics have no right to pressure people into buying goods, often at rip-off prices.

    "Elderly and vulnerable consumers will be given greater protection against rogue traders who use the hard sell to get what they want or prey on their fears and worries about living alone.”

  • To download the full guidelines for the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive click here.
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