Residents, workers and businesses in Rhondda Cynon Taf are being urged to ensure they know their rights and protect themselves, as World Consumer Rights Day draws near.
The theme for this year’s event, which takes place on Saturday, March 15, is Fix Our Phone Rights, an issue that definitely rings true for Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s dedicated Consumer Advice Team – it’s one of the top causes of complaint from residents!
Many residents have contacted the team, either via its dedicated consumer helpline or at one of its three drop-in venues, with a range of issues, including poor signal and coverage, being charged more than they thought for services, bad customer service and being locked into lengthy contracts.
Cllr Paul Cannon, Deputy Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and Cabinet Member with responsibility for Trading Standards, said: “We are pleased this year’s World Consumer Rights Day is focusing on issues relating to mobile phones, as it is cause for concern for many of the residents we see on a daily basis.
“Our dedicated Consumer Advice Team, which forms part of Trading Standards, is here to offer support to residents before they enter a contract, to ensure their purchase suits their needs. The team also provide extensive support for those who have complaints about the service they have received.
“World Consumer Rights Day is also a good opportunity for us to once again raise awareness of our team, which offers free advice for all residents and businesses in Rhondda Cynon Taf, as well as those who work in the county borough.
“It can assist on a range of civil issues, from purchases such as cars, televisions and household goods, to holidays, credit rights, finding the right tradesperson for works on your home and more.
“You can either ring the team or drop in to see them at their three offices, based in the One4All Centres in Pontypridd, Treorchy and Aberdare.”
Mobile phones remain one of the top issues dealt with by the Consumer Advice Team, especially parents trapped in expensive contracts they have purchased for their children or people who have been sold unnecessary packages in store.
Because of the way the mobile phone industry works, with so many providers and so many different ways to buy phones and contracts, it’s a difficult environment in which to challenge consumer rights, which is why it is so important residents are prepared before they sign on the dotted line.
Complaints procedures are deeply embedded within the terms and conditions of each individual provider or store, with strict protocols on how they should be dealt with, making it challenging for third parties such as Consumer Advice to act on behalf of residents.
Residents considering purchasing a new mobile phone contract or handset for themselves or relatives are invited to make contact with Consumer Advice first, so they can be clear on exactly what they want and need, and do not get drawn into unnecessary or inappropriate purchases.
They are also urged to read the terms and conditions thoroughly before signing up to what could be an expensive contract they are tied into for a number of years.
The awareness-raising day is also being used to highlight the other top issues dealt with by the Consumer Advice Team, which is based within Trading Standards and works closely with other partner agencies, including Citizens’ Advice Bureau, to take the necessary action on behalf of a consumer.
Their services are free and open to any resident, worker or business in Rhondda Cynon Taf. In the last year, it has dealt with 881 complaints and is involved in some 3,000 civil law notifications, which are either notifications about traders for which a complaint is being investigated or a customer complaint.
Other key issues for the team include:
Car Sales: Rhondda Cynon Taf is proud to have a Motor Trade Charter, which has been signed by almost two thirds of all car sales venues in the county borough who have pledged to abide by consumer rights and offer exceptional services. Anyone considering buying a car is urged to use the charter to select a venue from which to make their purchase.
Scams: Including telephone calls regarding “Government” green deals and cash payments residents have made to sales people who have knocked on their doors.
Seasonal issues: Rogue traders offering gardening, landscaping and driveway building works as spring draws near. Complaints about summer holidays, foreign packages and poor accommodation and the Christmas issues of shoddy toys, counterfeit goods and credit with sky-high interest secured to buy presents.
You can contact the team via telephone on 08454 040506 or visit them at their drop-in sessions, held between 9 am and 4pm on Mondays to Thursdays at the One4All centres in Sardis House, Pontypridd and Station Road, Treorchy and between 9am and 4pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays at Rock Grounds, Aberdare.
Find out more about the service and download a wealth of useful information on the Consumer Rights Pages