Company boss admits misleading customers

Trading StandardsTrading Standards

Posted on: 2 April 2019

The director of a North Devon company which specialised in cleaning and repairing wax jackets, has been told to pay almost £4,500 in fines, costs and compensation for misleading consumers.

Karl Paul Ward, 40, of Ilfracombe, Devon, pled guilty to seven charges of misleading consumers at Barnstaple Magistrates Court on Friday March 29, following an investigation by Devon Somerset & Torbay Trading Standards Service.

Ward also admitted one charge of failing to be professionally diligent under The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

The court heard that Ward was the sole director of The Wax Jacket Cleaning Company Limited between February 2015 and January 2018, when the company was dissolved.

Consumers were drawn to the company website which claimed a ‘fast and professional service’, cleaning, servicing and repairing jackets within seven to 14 days.

While it operated, 116 complaints were made to Trading Standards by customers from around the country.

Complainants reported lengthy delays in receiving their wax jackets, with some never returned despite repeated reassurances.

When the wax jackets were returned, many of them appeared either untouched or the cleaning and repairs paid for were of a poor standard. When customers raised concerns with the business they were either ignored or fobbed off.

In 2016 Ward and his business relocated from North Yorkshire to Ilfracombe and he was visited by officers from Devon, Somerset & Torbay Trading Standards in December of that year.

The officers offered Ward detailed business support and advice. For a short time matters improved, but when the complaints continued, a formal warning was issued and an investigation started.

Magistrates ordered Ward to pay a penalty for two charges totalling £1000, a victim surcharge of £50 and £2,500 in costs. Compensation of £900 was awarded to witnesses.

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council’s cabinet member

Cllr Rufus Gilbert

Cllr Rufus Gilbert

responsible for Trading Standards said:

“The website promised a quick, professional service. Despite our advice the service was neither and any improvements made following our advice didn’t last. Traders should ensure that if they make a claim on their websites or in promotional literature that those claims can be justified and are not misleading.”

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