HPAS Limited of Bradford who trade as Safestyle UK have today been fined £120,000 at Sheffield Crown Court having pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to multiple offences of breaching consumer protection legislation repeated across the country, some offending involving elderly or vulnerable people.
The conviction was secured by the West Yorkshire Financial Exploitation and Abuse Team (WYFEAT), which is a multi-agency partnership between West Yorkshire Trading Standards, West Yorkshire Police, Adult Social Care professionals and supported by the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, with the aim of combatting rogue traders who prey on the vulnerable. The fine imposed on the company which manufactures and installs uPVC windows and doors, is the highest imposed in the county for breaches of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. The company were also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £52,393.00.
The company which claims to be the ‘UK’s Number One supplier of replacement uPVC windows and doors’ pleaded guilty to offences of using sales practices which were aggressive, misleading or banned:
The company claim to provide free, no obligation 12 month quotes, however:
Other customers were also given false information designed to elicit a quick decision:
The Consumer Protection from Unfair trading Regulations 2008 state that certain practices are unfair in all circumstances, these are called ‘banned practices’ and include making persistent and unwanted sales calls and refusing to leave a consumer’s home when asked to do so:
Dave Lodge, Head of Trading Standards commented: “The case and the level of fines imposed illustrates the seriousness with which the courts view companies who flout the laws designed to protect the public in general and the elderly and vulnerable in particular, I hope the case will serve as a warning to those sectors of the home improvement industry who put the pursuit of profit before ethical, commercial standards. If anyone, including sales personnel or ex sales personnel has any information about any illegal sales tactics please contact Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline 03454 04 05 06.”
Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, who has helped to provide joint funding for the specialist Trading Standards Financial Exploitation and Abuse Team said: “The behaviour consistently demonstrated by SafeStyle UK employees fell well below what is expected of any company, let alone an established brand. I welcome the substantial financial penalty imposed and the strong message this sends out that using aggressive, misleading behavior and banned practices absolutely will not be tolerated. My thanks to the members of the public for reporting these instances and to Trading Standards for all their hard work in bringing this case to court.”
Councillor Jo Hepworth, Chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee, said "This case is another excellent result for WYFEAT and highlights the unfair trading practices used by Safe Style. Today’s sentence sends a message that action will be taken against any company or individual found to use unscrupulous sales tactics against consumers”.