Aug 08, 2011
by TradeBust admin
Work from home scams explained
In times of economic difficulty, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) says it expects a rise in work from home scams, as people look for new ways to make money.
Scammers offer you a 'quick way to make lots of money from home'
Work from home scams generally offer you a quick way to make a lot of money from home, without needing any qualifications or skills.
You often have to pay money to scammers in the form of a registration fee or to buy goods. It then turns out that there either is no work or that you can’t make any money.
Types of work from home scams
There are a number of different work from home scams:
- Buying products to sell on, only for you to find that there is no market.
- Making products which are repeatedly returned for being `substandard’. You may have to pay hidden costs such as advertising, photocopying and work for many hours without pay.
- Alternatively the scam is that there’s no real work - you earn commission for recruiting others. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has previously ruled against a number of companies advertising work from home scams like this.
How to spot work from home scams
Advertisements for work from home scams frequently appear in situations vacant or recruitment columns in newspapers. Work from home scams can also be found advertised in shop windows.
Key things to look out for:
- The scammers won’t tell you what work you will be doing in any kind of detail - they’ll keep it vague.
- You are asked to pay money upfront for a starter pack or kit.
- They’ll advertise high earnings for comparatively little work.
We investigated an envelope stuffing scam
Envelope-stuffing work from home scam
One work from home scam we found online said we could earn £1.60 for every envelope we stuffed if we sent scammers £49.99 for a starter pack.
A quick check of the ASA website revealed what we’d actually be doing is placing adverts asking people to write to us for further information on envelope work - effectively recruiting others to do exactly what we were doing.
Key things that rang alarm bells about this scam were that we weren’t told what we’d be putting in the envelopes and we had to pay up front.
The ASA ruled it was a pyramid scheme and illegal under the Consumer Protection Regulations 2008.
The ASA says it regularly advises newspapers to tighten up on their checking procedures when accepting advertisements, in order to avoid work from home scams.
Aug 07, 2011
by TradeBust admin
Some of you might be considering starting a home-based business so you can earn an income while staying home with your children. There are many wonderful opportunities and success stories associated with home-based businesses, but there are also many scams and fraudulent schemes out there, as well.
Here is a short checklist of what you might want to think about before starting a home-based business.
- If it Sounds Too Good...
This might seem obvious, but it is amazing how many really good scam artists are able to enlist intelligent people into schemes that sound too good to pass-up! Be very wary of businesses that offer a lot of income in a short period of time with very little work involved. Remember, if it sounds to good to be true, it usally is!
- Be Wary of Companies Wanting Money
Of course, some legitimate companies want a fee from you to receive their start-up package, but personally I am very leery of any company who wants you to pay them money. When I started maintaining this About.com site, as an independent contractor, not an employee, I was initially impressed with the fact that all that I was investing initially was my time. If About.com had never paid me anything, then I would have been out the time, but NO money!
- Avoid Pyramid Schemes
Pyramid schemes are illegal in most states. Basically, a pyramid scheme consists of people recruiting other people to join the pyramid, usually for a fee. Your "pay" is based not on selling a product, but on recruiting others. There are only so many people you can recruit, so these schemes make a very few people some money, but for most people, they never see a cent from a pyramid.
- Stuffing Envelopes and Home Assembly
I am lumping these two scams together, because they have both been around so long, and they still show up in legitimate sources, such as magazines and newspapers. While there may be some people who have actually been paid for stuffing envelopes, I have had some friends who have tried making money this way. After paying the $25 to $45 fee, and following the directions, all have been told that they didn't meet the "standards" of the company.
The following Net links have information that will help all of us avoid a home-business scam. Being informed is the best defense against scams.
Aug 07, 2011
by TradeBust admin
New research reveals that 6.2 million Brits have fallen foul of a "cowboy builders" and rogue traders in the past five years. The research suggests that plumbers have caused distress to most, with 1.4m saying they have been affected by poor quality plumbing work since 2006.
Those that have employed a cowboy builder or a rogue trader in the last five years paid an average of £2,077 for the work they carried out, meaning that Great Britain has had to pay nearly £3.7billion to rectify botched jobs during this time. On top of this, over 150,000 people are estimated to have paid over £5000 to rectify a botched job. Many complaints have been made and the number of new complaints are growing each year!
Of those that used tradesmen in the past five years, only a third (36%) say they asked for a number of quotes and a mere 31% asked for a formal written quote for the work. Worryingly just 5% checked if they were accredited by TrustMark, the Government endorsed standards agency, despite this being an easy web-based check via TrustMark's online database. Men are more thorough in their checking with 15% saying they asked for references opposed to just 9% of women.
To avoid becoming a victim of Rogue Traders and cowboy builders, follow these simple steps:
Aug 01, 2011
by TradeBust admin
Cowboy builders are the scourge of the construction industry. Although they make up only a tiny minority of those working in the building trade, they are out there, and it pays to know how to spot and avoid them. Major building alterations usually represent a large investment, and the dream of a new extension or loft conversion can quickly turn into a nightmare if you fail to choose a quality contractor to carry out the work.
We have all heard horror stories about rogue traders who wreak financial and emotional misery on unsuspecting homeowners by failing to deliver on their promises. This guide is designed to help you minimize the risk of hiring dishonest and/or incompetent tradesmen to undertake building work on your property.
Never rely on the innate honesty of others. Cowboys are likely to appear confident and friendly, making it hard to doubt their competence and sincerity. Don't be afraid to stand up for your rights and demand evidence of their ability to carry out work to the desired standard. After all, it's your money we're talking about! Reputable tradesmen will be happy to comply with your requests, recognizing your rights and concerns as the employer.
Treat tradesmen with suspicion if they:
1) Insist on cash only, offer you money off for cash-in-hand, suggest that you can avoid paying VAT for cash and/or are very insistent on getting the cash straight-away.
2) Seem reluctant to give a business name or address or can only be reached by mobile phone.
3) Over-emphasize any faults.
4) Criticize rival builders in the area.
5) Offer you a surprisingly low quote.
6) Confuse you with jargon and technical explanations or insist that the details are not your problem, laughing when you suggest showing them plans.
7) Tell you that a written contract is not necessary or fail to provide any paperwork.
8) Are evasive when asked to provide references.
9) Say that they are unable to give costings because things may change.
10) Tell you they can start work immediately. A good builder is usually a busy builder!
If at any time you feel intimidated by a visiting tradesman, do not be afraid to ask them to leave and call the police.
Things to Remember
Follow these guidelines for choosing and working with a builder to help protect yourself from cowboys. Knowledge is your most powerful weapon in the fight against rogue traders. Arm yourself with reliable advice and make sure you know your rights.
DO: Ask trusted friends and family members to recommend builders who have provided a good service when carrying out similar work on their own properties.
DO: Get estimates from at least three different builders. Be clear about what you want done and request written specifications and quotations. If there is a large variation in the size of the quotes, try to find out why.
DO: Endeavour to use members of recognized trade associations such as the Federation of Master Builders, Quality Mark Builders or the National Federation of Builders. Although membership is no guarantee of quality workmanship, it is a good indication of competence and reliability. Associations carry out checks on tradesmen before they grant membership status, and members are required to adhere to codes of conduct. Check membership details carefully, however, as rogue builders will often falsely claim membership of trade associations.
DO: Ask each builder for 2/3 recent references and follow them up, inspecting the work if possible. Speak to previous clients about the conduct of the tradesmen as well the quality of the work done. Bear in mind that it is possible for references to be family / friends of the builder in question.
DO: Enquire about guarantees, particularly if the job is a big one. Ask for work to be covered by an insurance-backed warranty.
DO: Take your time over choosing the right builder for you. Don't feel rushed into making a decision. Make your choice according to:
1) Quality of Workmanship
2) Cost and Time-Frames and
3) The Conduct of the Builder, weighing each factor individually and relative to the other two.
DO: Use a written contract. For small domestic building works there are a number of simple and inexpensive homeowner building contracts available, such as the Plain English contract from the FMB. A written agreement should specify:
1) The work to be carried out. (If the job is a complex one, commission a comprehensive set of building plans to further cement this contract.)
2) When the work is due to start and finish.
- ’local agreements’ including use of bathroom facilities, disposal of waste etc.
3) The cost of the work and how/when it is to be paid. It is wise to include a ‘retention’ - a part of the price that is to be paid (say) one ore two months after completion of the work, allowing you enough time to discover any small faults that only come to light once the builders have left the site. Be sure to agree any staged and final payments before work starts.
DO: Maintain an open dialogue with your builder throughout the course of the project. Work with them to ensure that they are doing what you want. If problems arise or you are unhappy about any aspect of the job they are doing, be sure to talk to your builder straight-away. Use the trade association's mediation and arbitration service if necessary. Bear in mind that a certain amount of inconvenience is inevitable, and factors such as weather, illness etc are out of the builders' control.
DO: Keep a written record of the progress of the work, making a note of any instructions you give the builder and any payments made.
DO NOT: Deal exclusively in cash. If this is absolutely unavoidable, be sure to obtain a receipt for each payment.
DO NOT: Pay for your work in full before it has been carried out. Once you have handed over your money it will be extremely difficult to obtain any redress if things go wrong. Only make the final payment when you are satisfied with the work and have checked that it complies with regulations.
DO NOT: Change your mind halfway through the project, or add to the job once work has started. This will lead to delays and extra costs. If changes are really necessary, ensure that you detail the alterations and agree time-scales and extra charges with your builder.
Aug 01, 2011
by TradeBust admin
According to a report on the UK’s £24bn used car market by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) one in five of the 3.6 million people buying a second-hand car from a dealer each year experienced a problem.
But, following a nine-month study of the market, it decided existing laws were sufficient to clean up the sector.
Car buyers tend to go to a dealer for “peace of mind” rather than get a cheaper deal from a private buyer, the report argued.
Yet, there were 650,000 complaints to Consumer Direct in 2009 about used vehicles bought from dealers and this was the biggest consumer gripe for the fourth year running.
Some 67% of problems with these cars - often mechanical - came to light within a month of the car being bought. Under the Sale of Goods Act, the dealer should resolve the problem, with a refund, repair or replacement if the vehicle was defective when sold. But nearly 30% of buyers asked in an OFT survey said they did not have their problem rectified and instead spent an average of £425 to get it fixed.
The report also claimed that dealers often failed to tell customers whether they had made checks on a car’s history as less than 30% of the OFT’s mystery shoppers were shown the car’s service history.
Other issues highlighted by the report included:
A £40m a year market in second-hand cars sold by dealers masquerading as private sellers
The illegal use of disclaimers which say a second-hand car is “sold as seen” or “no refunds” are available
Increasing the value of a car by £1,700 by illegal mileage clocking.
An estimated one in eight cars has a “mileage discrepancy”, according to the HPI checking service. Clocking costs consumers an estimated £580m a year in higher prices, with the average car clocked by 67,000 miles.
Some legitimate instances of correcting mileage exist - such as when a counter is broken and replaced, or when a digital counter’s software fails. However, the OFT claimed that this was insufficient to keep 50 companies in the UK - which openly offer mileage correction services - in business in addition software is also advertised online by other parties with ways to alter mileage.
The OFT has repeated its recommendation - first called for in 1997 - that a registration scheme be set up for these businesses, or for them to be banned. It also recommended that MOT test mileage data be shared with vehicle check companies.
The OFT report concluded that existing laws - most notable the Consumer Protection Regulations that have been in place since May 2008 - are sufficient for dealing with rogue motor traders. It said that enforcement of these laws was now a priority, but accepted that trading standards departments which policed the sector had limited resources as they are funded by local government.
It also wants greater education of consumers about their rights and clear guidance to dealers.
The industry has repeatedly said buyers should go to legitimate companies, and trading standards officers have called on these companies to shop the rogues.
“Car dealers have been seen as a closed shop who do not want to be seen to tell tales.” said Peter Stratton, of the Trading Standards Institute.
Source: Consumer Direct
Jul 30, 2011
by TradeBust admin
OK so you’ve just bought yourself a new TV, or a fridge freezer, or anything else in fact. You get turn it on. It doesn’t work. We’ve all been there at some time, right? If you’ve also found that when you try to take the thing back to the shop you bought it from, they won’t give you a refund, read on.
Some stores in the UK cling to the idea that their returns policy somehow trumps the law. Some stores are simply ignorant of what their duty is. They will claim they have a `no refunds’ policy and will only allow replacements or ’store credit’ but it is not their decision to make, it’s yours. This goes for online and catalogue purchases, too.
Buying Goods by Description and Online
With the Internet being such a big player in the shopping lives of many people, it is important to understand just what your rights are. Under section 13 of the Sale of Goods Act 1979, all contracts for sales of goods by description (which covers most, if not all, goods purchased on the Internet) have a condition attached that the goods delivered to the buyer will actually match the description provided.
Because this is a condition, as opposed to a warranty, the buyer is granted four specific rights when faced with a defective product:
- the right to return the goods;
- the right to a refund;
- the right to claim damages (but only when the product has caused a loss); and
- the right to terminate the contract.
So, if you were to buy a brand new washing machine and when it was delivered and set up correctly, it promptly flooded your kitchen and ruined your new kitchen floor, you would be within your rights to return the washing machine and get not only your money back (or perhaps a replacement washing machine, if you still trusted the shop) but also the cost of replacing the damaged floor.
The usual rules on minimising the damage count here, of course; so it is best to try to keep any damage to a minimum, otherwise you risk having to front some of the cost of repairs yourself.
Unsatisfactory Quality and Goods Unfit for Purpose
When buying something in a shop, it should go without saying that anything you buy should live up to reasonable standards of quality. Similarly, if you specifically state to a salesperson that you want to buy a DVD recorder, they should sell you a DVD recorder and not a simple DVD player. It sounds simple, but unfortunately not everyone plays by the rules.
Section 14(2) of the Sale of Goods Act 1979 inserts another condition into all sale of goods contracts, this time requiring that all goods purchased be of “satisfactory quality”. Whether the goods in question are of satisfactory quality will, of course, depend on the circumstances but if something is bought brand new and does not work, it is reasonable to suggest that it is not satisfactory.
Meanwhile, the condition that a product be reasonably fitness for any purpose stated to the seller prior to purchase is inserted by Section 14(3) of the 1979 Act. Because of this, anyone sold a DVD player when they clearly stated that they wanted a recorder would be able to demand a refund on returning the product. As defective product lawyers across the country will attest, consumer protection law is not limited to mere faulty goods.
Can you lose these rights?
The right to reject the goods and terminate the contract cannot be taken away by any store policy or a `no refunds’ sign (no matter how prominent) but there are still two situations where they can be lost:
- Failure to report dissatisfaction in a reasonable time; and
- Altering the goods to such an extent that they cannot be returned in the same state that they were received.
As with the question of what constitutes “satisfactory quality”, what can be regarded as a reasonable timeframe to express dissatisfaction will depend on the circumstances. Altering the goods, however, should be mostly self-explanatory. Suffice to say opening the packaging is unlikely to count in most cases.
The Legality of a No Refunds Sign
At this point, you may be wondering what the point of a “no refunds” sign is if it has no actual legal standing. The simple fact of the matter is that some people either don’t know what the law is, or don’t care. Sometimes they fall into the latter category and hope their customers fall into the former. It is therefore a good idea to remember about the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977.
Section 6 of the 1977 Act deals with exemption clauses (also referred to as exclusion clauses). The section specifically counters any attempt to get around sections 13 and 14 of the Sale of Goods Act 1979 when dealing with a sale between an individual and a business. Because of this, a store returns policy limiting returns to store credits or refunds is null and void; no matter how many notices are displayed.
As if that was not enough (and probably because some people simply won’t be told), the Consumer Transactions (Restrictions on Statements) Order 1976 makes it a criminal offence to use a void clause in a consumer sale of goods agreement. There really is no excuse for trying the old “we don’t do refunds” trick now.
In short, the Sale of Goods Act 1979 combined with the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 gives consumers the right to return goods for a full refund if those goods are faulty. This right cannot be taken away by purported terms in any sales contract, but they will disappear if the buyer delays too long before returning the product, or alters it in a substantial fashion. It is therefore best all ’round if faulty goods are returned promptly.
Jul 29, 2011
by TradeBust admin
The building societies and banks in the UK are letting customers down more, and more each year. They really are not able to dish out trust worthy advice on how to invest your hard earned cash. The result was part of an alarming survey conducted by Which? In fact it left reporters questioning if it was worth using UK banks and building societies for financial advice at all, given the fact that they gave such terrible advice.
In a secret investigation, the Which? researchers found that only 4 out of a terrible 37 banks and building societies that were visited were able to offer out good advice to investigators when it came to investing a cash lump sum, and to be frank the figure is a joke.
The biggest scandal revealed in the research was that banks that the government had helped out FAILED! Halifax, and Lloyds TSB didn’t prove to be better than anyone else. In fact they offered up dodgy advice on investments, and simply had not learned from the recession at all.
The other thirty three banks that were investigated by Which? and failed, were found to recommend products without talking through the risks, or simply because they themselves didn’t have a clue about the info they were dishing out.
Out of 37 advisors inside the banks, only 21 suggested the reporters put some of their cash into capital guaranteed products, and eight out of them said that the products didn’t contain any risks, which couldn’t have been more wrong if they had tried! Six of the `advisors’ even went as far as to recommend opening up an investment bond, although they didn’t talk through the risks of the extremely complex product. The very banks and building societies that we put our trust into, when it comes to all things financial simply didn’t have a clue about what they were doing.
A further 14 advisors, simply forgot to mention about the Financial Compensation Scheme, and only one of them advised a which? researcher to divide savings with 2 investments, to prevent going over the UK’s 50, 000 pound limit. The advice handed out was totally shoddy, and unprofessional.
So next time you are looking at getting an investment, perhaps you should do your own research! The banks and building societies are but novice it would seem.
Jul 29, 2011
by TradeBust admin
Until recently, the Doorstep Selling Regulations only covered contracts which were made in the consumer’s home or place of work as a result of a cold call or an unsolicited visit. New Regulations (The Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer’s Home or Place of Work etc Regulations 2008) have recently come into force which extend these rights for all contracts over £35.00, irrespective of whether they were made through unsolicited or pre-arranged visits with the trader or rep. The Regulations aim to protect anyone who may have entered into an agreement as a result of undue pressure, by allowing you a cooling off period of 7 calendar days during which time you have the right to cancel. Although, there is another advantage in that it also enables you to go away and compare alternatives.
You may also invoke your rights under these regulations if you have offered to buy something or commission a service from at a presentation of some kind, where business is taking place away from the organisation’s usual business premises. Incidentally, this includes signing up for a timeshare in the resort itself, where this is away from the offices of the timeshare company. It is also the case even when contracts are concluded at a later date, back at the trader’s shop of office - the fact that you have made your offer away from here is the important thing.
The Seller’s Obligations
With any contract or sale made in this way, you must be sure you have been presented with clear written notice of your 7 day right to cancel, at or before the time the contract is made. If you have not, the contract is legally unenforceable, even if a deposit has been paid. This notice, which cannot be in the form of small print, or otherwise disguised, must also provide a cancellation form and advise you on how and to whom a notice of cancellation is to be made. Any related credit agreements will also be cancelled. .
Where you have no cooling off period
If you are commissioning a service and work starts before the end of the 7 days, your cooling off period also comes to an end. But (and this is a very big but!), you must have been advised in writing and you must have agreed to it before the work commenced. If no notice was provided, the company may have acted unlawfully.
Contracts for certain goods and services do not have a cooling off period, even though they were concluded at your home or place of work.
- Goods and services relating to a funeral
- Goods which are personalised or made to a personal specification
- Perishable goods, or those which are consumer buy their use and cannot be returned
- Goods supplied to meet an emergency
- Newspapers, periodicals or magazines
- Goods whose price is dependent on fluctuations in financial markets
- The supply of goods to meet an emergency
How to cancel
Similar to the Distance Selling Regulations, you are able to cancel the contract at any time within 7 days from the time the written notice (of your right to cancel) was given to you by the trader. You can either use the cancellation form which should have been provided, or a simple written notice, as long as it is clear of your intentions. Emails are now recognised forms of written notice. With regard to sending your notice to cancel by post, as long as it has been posted before the end of the 7 days, it doesn’t matter when it is actually received. For this reason, it is always advisable to send it recorded delivery.
Jul 23, 2011
by TradeBust admin
So here we today the 16th July 2011 with the release of our new website TradeBust.com A consumer complains website that allows users to blow the whistle on rouge traders and businesses in their area,
TradeBust allows people that have been the victim of rogue tradesmen, or have been ripped off by bad businesses. Users can create a review then post onto tradebust which alerts users to the companies that might be giving people a raw deal or traders and other businesses that are not giving people value for money.
Many people are not sure what to do when they are faced with a company that will not give customer satisfaction or simply refuse to give a good level of customer care. It is the intention of tradebust to give the general consumer the power to have their say and move the rouge traders into action. With the growth of the internet and the ability to place reviews onto the internet, together with search engine optimization techniques, reviews given by the user will sometimes mean bad news for the business, for example, if a user makes a review on a company and then someone who is searching on Google for that very company, may find the reviews left on tradebust before they see the company website, good news for the one making the review but not so good for the company!
The website allows users to type in their home town and the results are linked into Google mapping showing people the bad businesses to avoid! Users can mark the dispute as " resolved" if they feel that the company have put matters straight.
Launched in July 2011 the website is for and on behalf of those that have been wronged by companies that have defrauded, given poor customer service. Unhappy customers can use the website to make a consumer complaint and shame the unethical companies. Apart from alerting users to bad businesses in their area by linking with Google maps, users can also read the full report and view photo's if the one making the review has included them in their report.
The website runs the service for free on behalf of the general consumer and allows users to leave their review based on a minus 1-10 score, they can also upload product photo's or pictures of bad workmanship that they wish other users to see. Users can also use the town or company search so that they can see who is giving a raw deal in their area which then gives a Google display of where the bad business in located so that the user can avoid that company if they so wish.
If you have any horror stories from bad traders and businesses then we loved to hear them!