Pity computer seller Fiche & Chips didn’t take as much care over its service as with its name.
Topic: Distance selling
Who: Fiche and Chips and Middlesborough Trading Standards
When: July 2001
Trading standards officers were disappointed with the final version of the Distance Selling (Consumer protection) Regulations 2000. They did not, as in the earlier drafts, render non compliance with the Regulations a criminal offence. Enforcement was to be by way of applications to the court for injunctions requiring compliance, failing which fines or prison sentences for contempt of court could await company directors or managers who failed to comply. Now, nine months since the regulations came into force, the first of these injunctions has been issued by the court. The hapless victim was mail order computer supplier Fiche and Chips. They mail-shotted millions of homes nationwide promising reconditioned computers for £200. Within three months the overwhelming response and Fiche and Chip’s inability to cope had led to over 900 complaints being received by Middlesborough Trading Standards alone. It soon became apparent that contrary to the 2000 Regulations, Fiche had failed to provide a right to cancel purchase contracts and had not fulfilled numerous orders within the 30 days minimum. The scale of the problem and Fiche and Chips’ failure to respond positively to Trading Standards’ initial enquiries led to the grant of the injunction.
Why this matters:
Many of those offering products for sale on-line or by mail order are still not complying with these regulations. This case was clearly intended by Trading Standards to lay down a marker, and in appropriate cases the enforcers are clearly going to take action.