Description of goods

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What is 'description of goods'?

  • Check goods and services are correctly described, for example in advertisements
  • Look for counterfeit goods and second-hand items being sold as new
  • Investigate complaints where businesses falsely claim to be members of trade associations.

Protecting consumers

The Trade Descriptions Act and other legislation were replaced by the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. These ban traders from engaging in unfair commercial practices against consumers, mainly through marketing and selling. 

They also set out how commercial practices can be unfair by being misleading (through action or omission) or aggressive, and list 31 specific practices which are banned. 

Breaches of the regulations can lead to either civil or criminal enforcement action. 

Protecting businesses

The Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008 replaces the Trade Descriptions Act in terms of protecting businesses.

They also set out conditions under which advertising which compares one business or product to another to both consumers and business is permitted.

Counterfeit goods

Counterfeit (fake) goods are big business, often funding criminal activity. It is estimated the cost to industry in the United Kingdom is £150 million per year and rising.

Anything can be counterfeited, including branded clothing, spirits, cigarettes, toys, computer games, DVDs, CDs and car parts.

Counterfeit goods generally cost less than the real thing, are always inferior and, therefore, may be less durable, unsafe or dangerous because they haven’t been tested in the same way manufacturers do to ensure safety.

Even products that are unlikely to cause injury may be disappointing.  Ask yourself - is it such a bargain if it doesn’t work properly or breaks after a few uses?

Where can I get further advice?

The Citizens Advice consumer service provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues. Visit the Advice Guide website or call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.  If you wish to report a Trading Standards concern, you can do this through the Citizens Advice consumer service who will then refer it to the Trading Standards team. 

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