Retailers Urged to Comply with New Consumer Protection Laws

The British Shops and Stores Association (BSSA) has urged small retailers to familiarise themselves with new regulations aimed at protecting consumers from unfair sales practices.

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations Act came into force on 26 May, banning 31 aggressive and misleading sales practices.

BSSA chief executive John Dean has warned that small businesses are not aware of the new laws.

“It is a potential minefield for smaller businesses particularly,” said Dean. “There is so much complexity involved in the new legislation and businesses will potentially fall foul of it through a lack of understanding, rather than any desire to flout the regulations.

“They have got to read and understand what they have got to do,” he added. “They have got to look at all their operating practices to ensure that to the best of their knowledge, they are acting within the law,” he added.

Sales practices banned under the new laws include:

  • ‘bait and switch’ – advertising an item for sale, but with the intention of trying to sell customers something else,
  • exaggerating personal security risks in order to sell safety products, and
  • refusing to leave a customer’s house until they sign a contract.

According to minister for trade and consumer affairs Gareth Thomas, the laws signify a positive development for consumers and honest businesses.

“It will deliver better protection for consumers, cut red tape and put in place simple, clear consumer laws that will be easier to interpret and enforce,” he said.

For guidance on the new regulations, visit the Office of Fair Trading website

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