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The BBC's Karen Bowerman
"Consumer groups want tougher legislation"
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Monday, 24 July, 2000, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
Rip-off traders evading law
Consumers are still getting a raw deal, say campaigners
Consumer groups are calling for tougher laws to protect customers from being ripped off by unscrupulous traders.

The National Consumer Council (NCC) and the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux (NACAB) say a Consumer Bill is needed to replace "puny" laws currently in place.

Recent research by the Office of Fair Trading shows there are now one million complaints a year about sub-standard goods and services.

The groups have written to MPs urging them to press for a Bill to be included in the Queen's speech this autumn.

The government must act now to put a stop to these dishonest practices, once and for all

Anna Bradley
NCC director

Although the groups welcomed last year's White Paper on consumer rights, Modern Markets: Confident Consumers, they said consumers were still being "ripped off".

It is believed the overall number of cases of consumer dissatisfaction - the vast majority of which are never reported - has topped 85 million.

Anna Bradley, the director of the NCC, said: "It is still all too easy for rogue operators to rip off customers. The government must act now to put a stop to these dishonest practices, once and for all.

Phoney repairs

"As an absolute minimum, the Bill must tighten and toughen up the law for dealing with unscrupulous traders, oppressive debt collection practices as well as homeworking scams that don't deliver.

"We are writing to the prime minister to urge immediate action."

The campaign is asking members of the public to lodge their views and describe their own experiences with bogus traders at the NCC's official web site.

The current law is failing consumers

David Harker
NACAB chief executive

Visitors to the site are also encouraged to print off a campaign letter and send it their local MP.

One example cited by campaigners describes a couple from Hull charged 320 for repairs to their Ford Escort that were never carried out.

A reputable mechanic later said he had never even heard of one of the parts claimed to have been fitted.

In another case, a woman was threatened with jail by a debt collection agency chasing her for 25 she owed a catalogue company.

David Harker, chief executive of NACAB, said: "The current law is failing consumers. All too often, Citizens Advice Bureaux are left to pick up the pieces after rogue traders have exploited consumers who should have been protected by the law."

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16 Feb 00 | Business
New clampdown on rogue traders
15 Oct 99 | Business
Do we live in rip-off Britain?
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