What we do and how we work
The overall vision of Ceredigion County Council's Trading Standards Service is "Confident Consumers, Trusted Traders" and our primary aim is to ensure that food & agricultural standards, weights & measures, fair trading and safety legislation is complied with for the benefit of consumers as well as fair and honest traders.
We are here to protect...
- Consumers from being ripped off by unscrupulous and fraudulent traders
- Businesses from being damaged by unfair and illegal competition
What we can and can't do
There are many ways in which our service can help you.
- Advise you on the law and your rights
- Investigate if the criminal law within the Trading Standards remit has been contravened
Unfortunately, the amount of help we can provide is restricted by the powers given to us by legislation.
For example, we CANNOT:-
- close businesses down
- act as mediator between you and a trader to obtain a refund or other resolution to a breach of contract for you
- take action where no criminal law has been broken
- recommend a business
- tell you which business to avoid
How we work
Officers of the Trading Standards Section carry out their duties by:
- Inspecting trade premises for legal compliance in respect of legal metrology, quality standards, product safety and fair trading
- Investigating complaints about goods and services
- Sampling and testing products and services - eg obtain food samples to test for compliance in respect of compositional standards and labelling
- Testing the safety of goods eg electrical appliances, toys, cosmetic products; take samples of animal feedstuffs and agricultural fertilisers for compositional analysis, etc
- Carrying out projects and surveys into various products and trade practices
- Organising talks and exhibitions to promote a greater awareness of the Trading Standards Service
- Taking enforcement action - where officers investigate breaches of legislation, in many instances offenders are prosecuted in the criminal courts
The Trading Standards Service does not operate in isolation. Bearing in mind that commercial transactions are not hindered by geographical boundaries, the officers are in frequent contact with other Trading Standards services throughout the UK. Officers also contact other enforcement agencies such as Dyfed Powys Police and HM Customs and Excise, as well as Government Departments.
A brief outline of the core responsibilities of the Trading Standards service
The Trading Standards Service has a number of core areas of law that they enforce. These are:
- To ensure that weighing and measuring equipment used for trade is accurate and lawful
- To prevent the sale of short weight and short measure of goods
This legislation aims to ensure that all goods sold by weight, volume or length are sold accurately. Most trade equipment is regulated, and Weights and Measures Inspectors routinely test all sorts of different weighing and measuring equipment to check if they comply. Examples of such equipment includes shop scales, petrol pumps, meters found on bulk fuel tankers, pub optics and beer glasses as well as other equipment used by businesses to ensure that they are delivering the correct quantity eg checkweighers.
- To ensure that food is correctly labelled and described
- To ensure that feeding stuffs and fertilisers are correctly labelled and described and do not contain anything that is unwholesome, dangerous or undesirable
Our responsibilities in relation to food standards is to ensure that food throughout the food chain meets certain compositional standards, is correctly labelled and is not mis-described or adulterated in any way.
We carry out a programme of food sampling every year to ensure that a range food products supplied from all sorts of food outlets such as supermarkets, restaurants and takeaways are correctly described and does not contain unlawful ingredients. Checks are also carried out to make sure that food is not sold past its use by date.
We also conduct inspections to all types of food premises (retail outlets, wholesalers and food manufacturers themselves) to check for food standards compliance.
The first product in any food chain is the feeding stuff given to the animal being fattened for slaughter or the fertiliser sprayed on the crops. Our responsibilities in relation to agricultural standards is to ensure that the composition and labelling of certain feeding stuffs, fertilisers and pesticides are correct and we achieve this by taking routine samples of such products.
We also conduct inspections to agricultural merchants and manufacturers as well as to registered farms that mix their own animal feed to ensure that animal feed used to feed animals that are intended for the human food chain does not contain any unwholesome, dangerous or undesirable substances. The control of animal feeding stuffs, fertilisers, pesticides and additive levels is therefore an important element of food safety.
- To ensure that goods sold to consumers are safe (product safety)
- Age-restricted sales
- To ensure the safe storage of explosives, including fireworks
Throughout the UK, the enforcement responsibility of enforcing underage sales legislation that restricts the age at which young people are permitted to buy certain goods namely cigarettes, videos & DVD's, fireworks, knives and alcohol lies with Trading Standards.
Age restricted sales of alcohol is an enforcement responsibility for Trading Standards which we share with the police. The police are responsible for the enforcement of age-restricted sales of alcohol at on-licensed premises e.g. pubs and clubs, whereas the Trading Standards Section is responsible for such sales at off-licenses.
We carry out routine inspections and provide advice and guidance to businesses. We also conduct test purchases to ensure that businesses abide by the law and do not sell age-restricted products to underage children.
How can I report premises selling age restricted goods to children?
It is frustrating for law abiding businesses to see others apparently flouting the law.
If you believe that underage sales are occurring at other outlets, you can report the matter to us quickly and anonymously by contacting Citizens Advice Consumer Services on 0808 223 1133.
By providing the necessary information (ie shop name, location, when the sale took place, etc) the information will then be passed to us to look into.
Consumer products, whether they are for hire or sold as new or second hand must be safe. There is a wide range of Regulations controlling the safety of consumer products ranging from toys, furniture, electrical goods even building materials. Officers visit manufacturing, wholesale and retail premises to inspect goods and to take samples for testing to ensure that items are safe. We also make spot checks at car boot sales and Sunday markets.
Within our remit of consumer safety, we also have responsibility for:
Storage of Explosives
We conduct inspections to ensure that fireworks and other similar explosives e.g. shotgun cartridges, are stored safely on retail premises and that they are licensed to do so.
- To prevent false claims about products and services
- To ensure that a fair trading environment exists for all businesses
- To ensure the offering of credit is carried out only by licensed traders
This area of law enforcement deals with a very wide range of issues that are concerned with consumer fraud including mis-described goods and services, consumer credit problems, misleading prices and counterfeiting. Any other trading practices that could be considered as fraudulent or unfair also fall within this area of enforcement.
We conduct market surveillance, inspections, investigate complaints and provide advice to businesses to ensure compliance with the legislation.
This legislation ensures that any goods and services are correctly described. It covers everything from a mis-described holiday to a tradesman purporting to be a member of a particular trade association.
They may appear to be bargains, but counterfeit goods such as a copy of a chart CD or computer software or even designer clothing, is invariably inferior in quality to the genuine article. In the case of counterfeit perfumes and toys, it has been found that such goods may also dangerous.
This legislation aims to ensure that price indications for goods and services, including price reductions are clearly explained and are not misleading.
Trading Standards want to see informed confident consumers who know how to shop around to get what they want at the right price and how to steer clear of rogue traders. Good information and advice is the key, as is knowing where to turn to for help.
If you have a consumer problem that you feel we should be aware of or that you simply need advice to try and resolve a consumer problem yourself but are uncertain of your consumer rights, you should first contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service.
Consumer Advice in Ceredigion is now provided by Citizens Advice Consumer Service. However, they will refer complex enquiries or those requiring further action to Ceredigion Trading Standards.
Contact by Telephone - If you would like to talk to an advisor about a consumer issue please call 0808 223 1133.
Welsh speakers may contact Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1144.
For useful advice leaflets for consumers, visit our website.
Whether you are an established business that has been operating for years, or simply considering setting up a business, you may need advice to keep up to date with relevant legislation relating to areas such as legality of products, services, packaging, labelling and advertising (see sections on Legal Metrology, Fair Trading, Consumer Protection & Product Safety, Food & Agriculture Standards).
If you are a business based in Ceredigion requesting information or advice about how to comply with the law, due to staff shortages, we are unable to provide this service at the present time.
However, you may find the advice or information you are looking for on the Business Companion website.
If you require advice concerning a civil dispute with a customer you can obtain advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service (details as above).