Trading standards staff will get powers to seize goods and files and to inspect premises to ensure services are being provided honestly and fairly, under new proposals going to the States.
The changes are part of a set of major reforms to consumer protection legislation which will effectively extend EU protections to the public in Jersey.
The new legislation could see dodgy traders fined £5,000 per offence, when they come into force in March – subject to States approval when politicians debate the proposals next month.
The original proposals were published in October, but now a late amendment had been brought forward which would add extra powers for trading standards officers on top of the improved consumer rights.
Under the amendment, authorised officers would get the power to inspect whether services had been provided in accordance with an agreed contract, and whether the services have been provided within the limits of “professional diligence”.
The legislation would make it illegal to:
- Falsely claim that a product is only available for a limited time to force a customer into a quick decision.
- Use fake prize draws, or claiming a prize is subject to a customer paying a fee.
- Demand payment for products a consumer has not asked for.
It would also make it illegal for tradesmen to:
- Refuse to leave someone’s home.
- Tell a consumer they cannot leave a set of premises without signing a contract.
- Make persistent and unwanted approaches by phone, fax or email.
Five years’ ago a major consultation found that Jersey law did not do enough to protect the rights of shoppers who were being unfairly treated – but nothing was done to fix them because the Economic Development department said that “legislative action was not possible”.
But now the minister, Senator Lyndon Farnham, says that the extension of the EU laws would offer better protection to Islanders.
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