Major retailers fined over breaches of consumer legislation

Consumer regulator took 40 enforcement actions against 33 traders in 2016

 Isolde Goggin: The chair of the   Competition and Consumer Protection Commission said compliance with the Consumer Rights Directive was “a high-priority enforcement focus”. Photograph: Eric Luke

Isolde Goggin: The chair of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission said compliance with the Consumer Rights Directive was “a high-priority enforcement focus”. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Argos, Dealz, Powercity, Eason and Life Style Sports were among the major retailers who breached consumer protection legislation last year, according to figures from the consumer watchdog.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has released details of 40 enforcement actions taken against 33 traders in 2016. The commission, which is responsible for enforcing consumer protection legislation, uses its powers to stop practices that are misleading, unfair or harmful to consumers.

Twenty-seven fines of €300 were paid by 24 traders who failed to display the selling price of a product. The companies fined included Eason at Wilton Shopping Centre, Cork; Dunnes Stores of Gateway Retail Park, Galway; Heatons of M1 Retail Park, Drogheda, Co Louth; and Smyths Toys, Galway Road, Co Mayo.

Separately, seven compliance notices were issued to traders who charged more than the price displayed. These included Argos at Deerpark Retail Park, Killarney; Heatons of Childers Road Retail Park, Limerick; New Look at Cruises Street, Limerick; and Dealz of Pearse Street, Mullingar.

Creative Retail Solutions Limited, trading as Gadget Box, was issued with proceedings under the Sale of Goods Act in relation to its temporary store on Grafton Street in Dublin. The sign claimed it was the shop’s policy not to provide refunds and that it would only exchange goods within 24 hours of purchase and with a receipt.

“This suggested to consumers that their statutory rights in relation to faulty goods were restricted,” the authority said.

Legal rights

Four enforcement actions were taken for failure to comply with, or for providing misleading information about consumers’ legal rights under the EU Consumer Rights Directive.

Life Style Sports was fined for failing to reimburse delivery costs to consumers who cancelled their order or returned their purchases under the EU law. Powercity received a compliance notice for providing consumers with misleading information on their legal rights.

Separately, McCormack Car Sales Limited in Sligo was required to give an undertaking to the commission after it was found to have provided false and misleading information to a consumer in relation to the mileage of a car. The car sales firm compensated the consumer.

According to commission chair Isolde Goggin: “Under consumer protection law, the selling price of every item offered for sale must be displayed clearly and accurately. In 2016 we carried out 150 unannounced inspections of trader premises across Ireland to assess compliance with price display legislation. The majority of those inspected were found to be compliant with consumer protection legislation.”

The body would continue its unannounced inspections of retailers across Ireland this year.

Ms Goggin said compliance with the Consumer Rights Directive, which came into force in 2014, was “a high-priority enforcement focus”.

Consumers who have questions about their rights or who believe they have been misled by a business may access further information at ccpc.ie or via the helpline on 1890-432432. Full details of the enforcement actions taken last year are published on the website.