Misleading Commercial Practices: Unfair Trading Regulations 2008


The practice of incorrect or misleading descriptions, statements, marketing and pricing was made unlawful under the both the Consumer Protection Act and the Trade Descriptions Act. This legislation has now been replaced in large part by the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. The regulations outlaw three specific practices:

  • Misleading actions.
  • Misleading omissions
  • Aggressive sales tactics.

1. Misleading Action

If false or inaccurate information has been used in relation to a product or a service, and this information has induced you into a purchase you would not have otherwise made, you can claim that the action was misleading. It also covers assertions made about the company selling to you. If, for example, the company makes untrue claims to have certain qualifications, or that they are members of an approved trade organisation, this is a misleading action. This is also the case if they claim to adhere to a code of practice which they then do not follow.

2. Misleading Omissions

The problem may be not what is stated but what is not. Therefore if information is omitted or hidden, presented in an unclear, unintelligible or ambiguous way, or given too late to the consumer, then it can be found to be misleading and in breach of the regulations.

Companies are required by law to include certain information about themselves , about performance of their contractual obligations, or in relation to consumer rights where there is a cooling off period. If they do not, then this is also misleading.

Incorrect Pricing

Incorrect or misleading pricing information is a common cause for complaint and is covered in these regulations.
Firstly, you should be clear that shops are not legally obliged to sell you their products and reserve the right not to do so if they wish. This means that if you pick up something which is wrongly priced, you do not have a right to buy it at that price. Having said this however, it is still unlawful for shops and suppliers to display an item at a price which is different to the price requested at the point of sale. Exceptions to this are obvious mistakes where, for example, a TV is priced at £8.99 instead of £899.00. An action is also misleading if it includes the manner in which the price is calculated and whether the item is being marketed as ‘discount’ or ‘for a limited time only’ – when in fact it is not.

Where the price given does not include taxes, delivery charges or any additional surcharges such as handling or admin fees, this is considered to be a misleading omission.

3. Aggressive Sales Tactics

When buying an electrical product we are frequently confronted with the option to buy additional insurance policies in the form of extended warranties. Sales staff can get generous commission for convincing us to part with more cash through the sale of these policies and this has led to aggressive sales tactics. The regulations aim to stamp out such practices if they are considered to impair your freedom of choice or limit your ability to make an informed decision. This includes harassment, coercion, persistence, threatening or abusive language, exploitation of misfortune or specific circumstances. It also includes retailers’ standing in the way of your contractual or consumer right to terminate a contract or switch to another product.  However you must also prove that the way you were treated led you to make a purchase decision you would not otherwise have made.

Taking action against retailers

The regulations referred to here are within the scope of criminal law. What this means for the consumer is that you cannot take direct action against retailers if you find them to be in breach of any of the above. Instead, you would need to report the matter to the enforcement authorities (Trading Standards), who will investigate, and perhaps even prosecute. A prosecution would not be carried out on the consumer’s behalf but on the state’s behalf, and so you will not yield any personal benefit from this process (unless perhaps a feeling of satisfaction!).This is not to say that you cannot threaten to inform the authorities if they do not resolve the situation to your satisfaction within a reasonable time period.


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32 comments… add one

  • john redvers 12 September, 2:23 am

    I have entered a contract with Vodafone for two years,
    I only make 5 calls per week. The line rental is £8.51 monthly.
    I have been completly over sold. Do I have a cooling off period.

    Reply
  • EllE 2 November, 4:52 pm

    Hi, about a week ago i ordered a mobile phone contract from vodafone. The contract was at the time zero (0) a month for 300 minutes and unlimited text and i choose a free phone (which i have an e-mail from them and a screen shot to prove it. The contract is for 18 months however i just received my phone today and checked online that they are charging me £30 a month. I thought the price i see is the price i pay? so where do i stand because it is to my knowledge that if i receive my phone, which i did vodafone are committing a contract for the price ive seen it for. Thanks any help would be appreciated.

    Reply
    • Andrew 25 November, 2:14 am

      Can I just clear this up???

      Vodafone where offering 300 minutes and unlimited texts along with a free phone for £0 per month??? In other words they were going to give you a product and service for no money whatsoever???

      I don’t think you should really be surprised they are charging you £30 per month…what company out there at the moment is going to give you something for free??? Come on people use your brains!!

      Reply
      • John 3 March, 2:17 pm

        Andrew come on, do you think vodafone gone give you a contract for free, perhaps it may advertised as free phone given for this contract.

  • Alex 28 February, 2:03 pm

    My friend has bought a sofa from Homebase. It was marked at a price in the shop and the shop agreed the sale and arranged delivery at that price. However, they have now realised they sold it for £400 less than they should have done and are refusing delivery.

    What are their options?

    Reply
  • vikki 30 June, 11:13 pm

    Hi

    I took a mobile contract out with vodafone in May and they keep charging me incorrectly. Do I have a right to cancel the contract seeing as they are continuing to bill me for the incorrect amount?

    I have written confirmation of my billing amount due each month but am getting charged £37 instead of £21.

    I have complained for the second time.

    Thanks

    Vikki

    Reply
  • Sharyn 8 September, 2:59 pm

    I have purchased an oven from Homebase that was advertisd on their website – and on Argos.co.uk, as having a programmeable timer. The oven arrived was unpacked bythe delivery guys, was checked for damage, and i signed for it. Itw was installed and now i find that is doe’s not have a programmeable timer at all, just a minute minder ype timer. They have said it was incorrectly advertised but i cannot exchange or return it as it has been unpacked, and is therefore excluded from the 30 day money back gaurantee. What right do i have to ask for a reund??

    Reply
  • Matthew 20 September, 8:19 am

    over the past couple of years I have purchased a Sat Nav, Mobile phone, and now my recent purchase was a laptop. All from diffferent retailers, all boast a battery life well above what the product can actually do. The laptop I bought said a battery life of ‘up to’ 6 hours which was one of the reasons for buying this. The maximum battery life as stated on the battery symbol fluctuates between 4 to 5 hours, even with nothing running. The Sat Nav I bought 2 years ago was the same and I tried arguing with Halfords, but they refused me a refund or exchange as it was over 6 months old and they said because they use the words ‘up to’, this could mean any time ‘below’ this figure. But they still corrected their website, so they knew they were pushing it. Where do I stand with my laptop, as it’s only 2 days old and I really needed a longer battery life. And why in this day and age are retailers still getting away with over exagerating battery life, which in my opinion is very misleading.

    Reply
    • jordan 21 November, 7:37 pm

      The company you have bought the laptop from are not in the wrong as the decription has clearly stated that the battery holds “upto” a certain amount. It doesn’t mean it will defo hold that fully charge and they have covered themselves by doing this. Most people know that buying a laptop will never have the fully suggested battery life. I have yet to get a laptop with it’s full suggested battery time, at least not without altering power settings so that computer performance and brightness are reduced severly. You should remember most manufactures base there maxium battery life based on the lowest possible power settings that the laptop can go whilst still performing basic functions.

      Reply
  • jordan 21 November, 7:31 pm

    They have mislead you into buying the product and have clearly gave you a false description, something which you should be protected by under the Trade Descriptions Act 1968. When contact them, you should mention that this is a breach of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 and that if they do not give you a refund, you will seek legal action.

    Reply
  • Fiaz Ahmed 28 November, 8:56 pm

    Sir,

    Last week, I bought a Mac Book Pro from the Amazon Site.

    The laptop was advertised as part of “Black Friday” promotion that Amazon were running. While the laptop was priced far below what it would normally be, I assumed it was par tof thier promotion and the website was indicating that there were only 2 for sale.

    The order was placed and accepted by Amazon though the laptop was to be supplied by one of their affilates. I have an email with the order invoice showing acceptance of order. As this is a common ocurence on Amazon, I did not think anything unusal was happening.

    The affilate, Techberry, say that have cancelled the order as it was incorrectly priced by Amazon. Amazon are saying that is a matter between Techberry and myself.

    I wrote to Techberry and Amazon stating that this was an issuse between the two of them and that I still expected the order to be honoured.

    What are my rights in this matter?

    I can forward the emails that I have in regard to this matter, if needed

    Reply
  • Bryan 30 November, 8:02 pm

    I ordered something from a website which was originally £49.99 at a reduced price of £9.99. I received an order confirmation however no money was taken from my account. About a week later I received an email from the company saying that the product was misprinted and my ordered had been cancelled.

    I emailed the company saying I’d like to buy it for £9.99 as originally agreed, I received a response for the company apologising for any stress caused and stating that if I ordered the product online for £49.99 I would only be charged £9.99 as per my initial purchase.

    I reordered the product however 2 weeks later got an email saying that the product was out of stock and that they would no longer be selling the product. I checked their website and noticed that not only was the product in stock but the price had went up to £59.99. I contacted the company again only to be informed that I had been incorrectly informed that the product was out of stock however as the price had went up they would not be able to fulfill they’re initial promise. I requested that this be looked at by a manager, I got a reply 3 weeks later stating that the first person who emailed me was wrong and that they never could sell this product to me for £9.99. Is this correct?

    Reply
  • Chris 4 December, 10:14 am

    My daughter naively entered into a finance agreement to buy a brand new car. She was influenced by an older bf who had no bank account of his own and the salesmen who said they could get round any problems with credit. She was a full-time student (19 years) at the time and in part-time work. The agreement was for 5 years with a total repayment of £20,000. When we found out and after many phone calls and letters, the car was voluntarily surrendered. It had only been driven for 2 days and was sold for £10,000 at auction for it. They now say my daughter is liable for £9,000 and will only accept a settlement of £6,000. She has no assets, they never asked for a guarantor and when we asked for all paperwork under the Data Protection Act from the dealer, it was the first time we had seen the paperwork saying she was earning £18,000 and was a nurse. In fact she was a carer on non-contracted hours. Is this contract valid with this incorrect information in it?

    Reply
  • Dee 13 December, 10:25 pm

    i purchased a tv online with sony.co.uk at a very discounted price the money was taken from my account staright away. 3 days later i have received an email confirming that the price on the website was a mistake and they will be refunding me the money as soon as possible, if that have taken my money already how do i stand?? am i entitled to the tv at the price i paid???

    thanks D

    Reply
  • Sally 19 December, 3:59 pm

    Hi,
    I have just found out something VERY interesting, which is not mentioned above. Retailers do not have to price their goods – either on the shelf, or on the products themselves! I tried to buy a £5.99 toy last week. The cashier tried to charge me £8.99, so I returned to the display, with a Supervisor. She told me the toy had been placed in the wrong place! I asked where the correct place was, because none of the shelf prices, showed £8.99 I was told “We don’t have to price everything in the store”. I couldn’t believe this was true, so I contacted Trading Standards who confirmed it IS true! Goods do NOT have to be be priced!!! If they are priced, then the pricing must follow the ‘Incorrect Pricing’ policy above! Astounding!

    Reply
  • Tony 27 December, 12:08 am

    First ,a finance company is not obliged to ask for a guarantor,

    I would ask the finance company for a copy of the finance application form ,that the dealer filled in on her behalf.

    It’s almost impossible for someone like your daughter to obtain the amount of credit you describe. Unless the details on the finance application were falsified.

    However if your daughter was complicit in the false information ,she deliberately mislead the finance company.

    She could be guilty of criminal fraud.

    Reply
  • jaz 15 January, 3:05 am

    I bought a tv from john lewis and it was a clearance stock and also returned so it was more cheaper. The sales assistant said that the tv was returned as it was the wrong size. So I bought it. I asked him was the tv damaged and he said no. Later at home I opened the box and to my amazement the tv had a long scratch and a hole near the badge. I felt disgusted. Next day I reterned tv to the shop. The man said he will either refund or exchange for same price. He also said that tv was not damaged when he boxed it but might have been damaged in store. He offerd me a display model as the tv I bought was a reduced amount. I don’t know what to do

    Reply
    • ames 12 May, 9:42 pm

      a simular problem happened to me wasnt with a tv.
      i bought it being half the price and took it home to find pieces missing took it back to shop it came from they said all the pieces was there and i had litterally get angry and annoyed for them to give me a refund as they wasnt going to! hope you sort this out

      Reply
  • mark 26 March, 9:33 am

    i tried getting access to my credit file from this company.
    i entered all my personal information and bank details as requested, only to given an error and no log in information given.

    i have not been able to access this service and i have asked for a refund. i was told no, as i have paid for the service and i didnt cancel within 10 days, i was not aware i had even completed the sign up untill i looked at my bank statement on friday, so had no idea of the 10 day period. the company are quick enough to blame myself for not having access but not to take the blame.
    i have a print screen of the webpage showing the error message too.

    the error message reads “An error occured calling the Wcf Service with client end point EnrollmentDataService with request: 250000KQ4141-62B”

    do i have a leg to stand on? and claim my money back?

    thanks in advance.

    Reply
  • Lauren 19 April, 9:36 pm

    Hello looking for a bit of advice, I ordered a pram from a company and they took the money, a few days later I realised the money was back in my bank so took it out to go and purchase another pram as I assumed they couldn’t do the order for whatever reason! Anyway the pram ended up turning up still and the delivery man said I was best to take it and sign for it and then get in touch with the company as they have different return courier or something, so anyway I signed and took the parcel in. This arrived just as I was going away for a few days. So today I got back and went to the bank and saw £100 of my money had been taken & also I was £200 overdrawn which was the price of the pram so I know it was them who took this.
    I got told by a friend they can’t charge me if they’ve messed up & already refunded my money when they shouldn’t have so now I’m stuck with what I should do?? Any suggestions? An is my friend correct or are the company right for charging me after paying me back for no reason and after already delivering the item??

    Reply
  • ames 12 May, 9:38 pm

    Hi i’ve been with sky for more than 12 months now i get the sign on my screen NO SIGNAL BEEING RECIEVED i rang and did the jobs required it said it again rung up did the job requirted went of again rung again and this time the guy said theres a fault with the wireing engineer needs to come out i’ll see if you still have warranty to my suprise no i dont it was going to cost me for an engineer to come fix the problem.
    spoke to manager she said to me that i have no warranty and need to may £8 extra a month to carry on my warranty.
    but i havent bought the sky box its officially owned by sky do i have to pay the warranty fee or is it law that its rente3d and they need to fix it ????
    pls help me i’m sick of not having no television

    Reply
  • Sonja 22 August, 5:03 pm

    I was buying an item in a local shop and the girl was processing the payment when I spotted cheaper items in a sale (same shop). I asked her to stop, she said it was too late and charged me for the item. I explained I had just noticed the sale, but she basically said “tough luck”. Can I demand an exchange and refund ?

    Reply
  • shinhoon ahn 8 October, 12:17 am

    Dear inspector

    I have recently experienced horrible sales from mobiles.co.uk.
    I ordered Samsun-galaxy note through mobiles but I asked cancelation of my order because of delay of its delivery and it was taken by mobiles. They sent me a confirmation of cancelation of it.
    However, they sent mobilephone I have ordered to me 3 weeks since cancelation.
    I complained about it to them and they said sorry but there was no action to me and their parcel in my house.
    No one did not answer my call although I call the number they informed me.
    I have never seen a horrible sale like this.
    Now I can neither return or keep parcel.
    What should I do?

    Reply
  • Anonymous 18 January, 7:00 am

    Hi,

    Last year I purchased an iPhone contract from T-Mobile for which I find I have been disadvantaged. While taking the contract-

    1. I was never told that International Calling Facility is unavailable. Although it might be an understood part here in UK, but being new to UK and coming from a different country I never knew this. However, I feel this should have been a responsibility of T-Mobile staff to inform me before making a sale. It was only when I took the contract and walked out of the store to call my family, I came to know that International calling is unavailable and to use this service I will be charged heavily. So I went back in store and asked. They recommended me to use an international calling card as an option. Respecting the contract I took their advice and ever since have been using calling cards to call my family. This attracts me additional 15-20 GBP on top of contract.

    2. I took the full-monty plan wherein I was told that I have unlimited calling to T-Mobile and other networks, anytime. For 10 straight months I never faced problems with this. However in December I was charged for calls beyond 2000 free minutes to other network. I called them up and they told me that this is the right plan. I inquired about it and mentioned that while taking the contract I was told I have unlimited calling to T-Mobile and other networks. The customer care executive mentioned that the store personnel may have told me unlimited considering the huge 2000 minute limit, but my plan is limited to 2000 minutes only and not truly unlimited. If I want to go for truly unlimited, then I need to upgrade my plan. I was completely clueless as to why they mentioned 2000 as unlimited. Because of this wrong information, I have been over-charged a 100 pounds.

    Although I paid my full overcharged bill, but now I do not want to continue with this contract. I even removed my direct debit now. Is there anyway I can move out of the contract now ?

    Please Help.

    Reply
  • Eddie 28 January, 2:48 pm

    The section on Incorrect Pricing might benefit from adding on-line scenario.

    Because an on-line shop is offering something for sale at an incorrect price, then this is an “Incorrect advertised price”, but, a few seconds later at the point the on-line shopping system lets the buyer make an order and enter credit card has been charged, it is an indisputable price of sale and a contract of sale exists.

    So if a microwave is offered for sale in a shop window for £50 less than the correct price, the guy at the till does not have to sell it. He does not have to enter into a contract of sale. But on-line, the trader has allowed this to done automatically by having an on-line shop,

    The decision to let the sale go ahead does not change to when the trader first sees the transaction (and realises his mistake) just by having an automated on-line shop, the trader has delegated his acceptance of a sale to the system. It still takes place at the point of sale, which is the consumer entering their card details.

    This is just like the trader insisting that his high-street shop staff sell an item at prices he has put on goods and not to think about it, just take the orders. In law, that’s how on-line shopping works. And so if you bought on-line at a price which later turns out to be incorrect, it’s too late for the trader, he HAS accepted the sale and taken payment for it. If the trader is going to delegate his acceptance of a sale to a machine, it’s up to the trader to make absolutely sure the price is correct as part of that delegation.

    This is very different from not being obliged to sell at an advertised price. Some traders are confusing this point, and trying to rely on the “advertised price” scenario being the same as accepting electronic orders. But it is not.

    Just to clarify, the site accepting the order is not the main point. Payment must be taken. So if the credit card or paypal payment is made and it appears on your statement, the contract exists and the trader must supply at the accepted price.

    You can even insist on provision of the goods rather than a refund, and can seek compensation for loss if the trader declines.

    Reply
  • Kenneth Woolley 19 March, 1:22 am

    Last year my contract was near ending on orange so i had a choice of waiting 2 months for a new phone or pay for one but upgrade now. I chose to pay £180.00 pounds for a new phone on a new 18 month contract. however a month of owning the phone it developed a fault, i contacted orange and they told me a brand new replacement phone will arrive next day and it did and i thought this was the end of the matter. 8 months later my replacement phone develops the same fault as my original phone so yet again i contacted orange however this time they inform me that the brand new phone i recieved from them is in fact a refurbed phone and has only a 3month warranty. If i want the phone fixed i have been told i have to pay and when i asked for a new phone to replace it i was also told i will have to pay. so eventhough i bought and paid for a new phone i now have a faulty refurbed phone with no warranty and still 13 months left on a contract..

    Reply
  • LadyBeresford 28 March, 2:26 pm

    I purchased a muscle massager at the Ideal Home Show last week after being put under pressure from the sales person who approached me and started demonstrating the massager on my back.
    I paid £140 on my Amex card but when I got home and tried to use the product it is very uncomfortable and painful, I have also found no benefit of muscle pain reduction whatsoever.
    I called the company to ask for a refund and was told to post back the massager and that once they recieve the goods they will call me and discuss a refund less 20% for a handling charge.
    Please can someone advise me of my rights on this matter?

    Reply
  • susan 20 April, 10:10 am

    Hello, I wonder if you could offer advice.

    I took out an insurance policy here in the UK in January. When I was filling in the form to request insurance and speaking to the insurance seller over the phone I was asked ‘how many years no claims discount have you earned for motor cars’ – I replyed 6years (I have proof on my previous insurance policy that I have suffered no accidents or losses since I began driving in 2006). No further information was given or questions asked regarding this and I went ahead and paid my insurance quote for the year. Following this I was asked to send a copy of my drivers license and proof of no claims to the company within 14days as protocol. It was only in a reminder letter to send these documents following payment of my insurance that I was informed that the no claims discount was only valid if I was the ‘policy holder’ of my previous insurance (I was a named driver on my fathers policy). In effect I was asked to pay an ADDITIONAL £750 as I was not the named driver or else my insurance would be cancelled, charging me a cancellation fee of £82.

    My argument is: I was not informed that the no claims must be gained as a ‘policy holder’ prior to paying for the insurance. The insurance company report that they do not tell people this information as it should be known. As a first time insurance holder, how would I know this unless they tell me? Surely this is misinformation?

    I have cancelled the policy, however am not happy that I have to pay the £82 cancellation fee. Do you think I have a right not to have to pay a cancellation fee for a policy I was misinformed about prior to purchase?

    Your assistance would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
  • Kayleigh 25 July, 5:24 pm

    Hello, I have recently bought a TV from Littlewoods, I had already bought one for myself with a built in DVD player, and had no problems with it, so when my mum asked if I could order her a TV i was more then happy to, I found the TV online and briefly looked through, scrolled down to the bullets points that described it as having a built in DVD player and ordered it, I received the TV, and plugged it in and installed it, it wasn’t until my niece asked to watch a DVD that I realised that there wasn’t one.
    I went back online to have a look at the description again, and once throughly looking at it, I realised that the bullet points werent for the TV that I was interested in but they were advertising a similar TV (with a built in DVD player) now they wont refund or take back the TV, were do I stand, I really feel like i have been mislead.

    Reply
  • Linda 6 August, 1:11 pm

    Hello,
    I have been weak and gullible. I went to test drive a new car 2 days ago. I told the sales guy I was also going back to test drive another car at a different car sales body the next day as I was very interested in their car and the package offered.
    Well, after being pressurised to find a deal that would get me to sign up, including being left to write down my thoughts like a naughty school girl, I succumbed! When I mentioned I felt pressurised the sales guy said he was just doing his job! I never intended to make any decision that day, that’s not my way. But, not being gutsy enough to just walk out I signed up.
    When I got home and checked the contract I find it is more than we verbally agreed with things added in that were going to be free. + an insurance policy of £400…….
    I rang next day to query items that were being charged for and what they were and a different sales guy explained. The insurance was for topping up a total loss settlement offered by my own insurer for 3 yrs. This was never mentioned or discussed but just added in. I don’t want that!
    When he gave me the contract he held my gaze and explained what was included, which was what we agreed so being tired I believed him and signed.
    When asked what deposit I would like to put down I said I’d be willing to pay £500 deposit but he said it would need to be £1000 but I would get the additional £500 back when I picked up the new car.
    I’m still waiting for sales guy to call me back to go through the contract, but, as I feel conned and cheated I wondered if I have any means of getting out of the contract without loosing the £1k deposit??
    Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

    Reply
  • joanna 9 October, 9:40 pm

    hi, I bought the hairdryer and curls wand, they was reduce to half price 28.49£, but when get to till they was reduced again half price and cost 14.99£ that was scanned price, but the lady said she can not sell to me is something wrong, tried few times but price coming up was 14.99£, on first item she correct (override) manually for 28.99, and for second item she scan twice the item to make 28.99, which price I should paid and is that right. regards jo

    Reply
  • jody k beavers 1 December, 10:52 pm

    I recently went to a store, and they had area rugs stating regularly priced 29.99-59.99, but listed all rugs for 20.00 when going to the register she rang it up for 59.99, I stated to her the sign posted said 20.00, I followed her back to the rugs where she took the sign to the registar, and it clearly read ALL RUGS 20.00, the clerk said it was an old sign, and proceeded to tell me that if the registar scanned the price at 59.99 I was wrong? Can I return to the store and demand them to sell me that rug for 20.00?
    thank you

    Reply