Monthly Archives: October 2015

Get your 5p carrier bag charge back

5p plastic carrier bag charge


Most people are either for or against the government’s decision to insist that supermarkets charge for plastic carrier bags, few sit on the fence.

It has been a success story, lightweight, strong(ish) cheap and easy to use, the bags hit the mark; it’s just the way we throw them away that creates the issues. As consumers, we stuff carrier bags into cupboards, discard them or dispose them into landfill.

Unlike plastic windows (PVCu, which can be recycled into new plastic components) a plastic carrier bag can’t be recycled or you have to collect millions of bags to make one new one!

Not being a natural tree hugger, I can appreciate some people have differing opinions of materials for carrier bags. Sure, hessian or cotton bags carry more weight and can be used time and time again, however the same can be said for thicker plastic carrier bags, just not the thin ones.

However this blog post is all about how you can use the new Consumer Rights to get your 5p back.

On October 1st, the new consumer rights came into force, they give everyone a degree of clarity about their “rights”.

Let’s take online shopping first.

You order your groceries; agree the time slot and driver arrives. They offload the reusable plastic boxes and inside have plastic bags, which you didn’t order but may have been forced upon you.

Under the new consumer rights, anything of a standard nature (not bespoke or purpose made) that you have purchased online; you have 14 calendar days to change your mind about the goods purchased (because you hadn’t had a chance to see them before you bought them) for a FULL REFUND.

The supermarket or retailer can make a reasonable charge to cover the return shipping costs (if their T&C’s explain) but I suggest you empty the bags immediately and return them to the driver, insisting they refund you. Alternatively, you return them to the store and request a refund within the 14 days.

Each of the major supermarkets have different policies regarding the use of plastic bags for home delivery. Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda offer free bagless delivery. If you’d like your groceries packed in carrier bags, you will need to pay a flat fee of 40p. Ocado offer a 5p refund for every plastic bag you return to the driver up to a maximum of 99 bags.

Now let’s take in-store shopping.

You shop for your groceries; agree to buy bags (that you can see and inspect) and agree to spend 5p on each of them. You load your shopping and take everything home.

Under the new consumer rights, you do not have any right to refuse the bags, as you had the chance to decide about your purchase in the supermarket.

New return rights for FAULTY goods

HOWEVER, you do have rights if any of the carrier bags are FAULTY; the handle split, there was a hole in it or if there was any kind of FAULT. This right to a FULL REFUND applies ONLY if the goods are FAULTY but it doesn’t matter if they were bought in the store or online shopping.

If your bags are FAULTY, you have a right to reject them during the first 30 days and get a FULL REFUND, because they must have been FAULTY from the start. Even during the next 5 months, FAULTS were deemed to have been in the bags from the time you bought them, so you can have replacements or a repair or accept part refund providing you return them to the retailer.

Even after the first 6 months you have a right to obtain a replacement but you’ll need to prove the faulty was there at the time of purchase.

This feels like a tax on shoppers because the government has insisted that consumers must pay this 5p charge, that’s millions of pounds over the next year. Is this fair? Have other EU countries levied this charge on their citizens or just the UK government?

Wales have been charging 5p for each carrier bag used at supermarkets since 2011, Ireland have been charging €0.22 per bag since 2002 and Denmark have taxed retailers for giving out plastic bags since 2003.

Finally there is one exception to the new rules, perishables like bananas, which don’t have a shelf life of 14 or 30 days are exempt (understandably) and the powers that make the rules may decide plastic carriers are exempt because they too are perishable…but that just weakens the new consumer rights.

What do you think of the new charge on plastic carrier bags? Let us know in the comments.

Photo by Petras Gagilas.

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As the new consumer legislation comes into force today, TrustMark, the only Government-endorsed scheme for all trades in and around the home, today announced a new ‘primary authority’ partnership with Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards to provide assured advice for it’s Scheme Operators and TrustMark registered firms.

The collaboration will enable TrustMark to obtain trustworthy regulatory advice on any consumer issues relevant to the domestic repair, maintenance and improvement (RMI) sector and, where required, develop bespoke information for the TrustMark registered firms.  The first project is already underway, drafting joint guidance on the new Consumer Rights Act 2015, which will be available shortly.

TrustMark is also offering more protection to consumers with Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), another significant consumer law change which is coming into force today.  By being an approved ADR provider, TrustMark’s Scheme Operators and registered firms are now compliant with these new requirements and have the option to offer their customers a clear, simple and low cost dispute resolution alternative to formal legal action should things go wrong.   This will be available for contracts to the value of £100,000 and both parties will be able to use the service as a ‘pay as you go’ with no annual fee or costs.

Steve Ruddy Head of Service for Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards, said: “Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards believe Primary Authority is an excellent way to support businesses.  We are delighted to welcome TrustMark as our latest Primary Authority Partner and the new Consumer Rights Act provides a great opportunity to demonstrate how we can work together in practical way to help their members.”

Simon Ayers, CEO of TrustMark, said: “We welcome these new consumer laws – the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and ADR – which are now much clearer and easier to understand for both consumers and businesses, as well as helping them to avoid disagreements. It is vital that we have transparent rights to help homeowners make better choices, save time and money when they employ tradespeople to carry out work around their homes.  Our partnership with Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards marks a significant collaboration and we are now able to support and advise our registered firms with their compliance with the changing consumer laws coming in today.

“By providing our Scheme Operators and registered firms with either the assured advice they need on consumer issues or an alternative method of dispute resolution, can only be good news for the homeowner and the very many excellent tradesmen and firms trying to build businesses, increase consumer confidence and a create a better reputation for their trades”

Primary authority offers businesses and organisations the opportunity to form a legally recognised partnership with one local authority, which then provides robust and reliable advice for other councils to take into account when carrying out inspections or dealing with a non-compliance. The scheme is a common sense Government initiative to cut red tape and support economic growth through better regulation, it is overseen by the Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO). Providing assured advice under the scheme enables businesses to confidently make informed decisions about their future and investments.

To stay up-to-date with developments at TrustMark, visit or to find more information about Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading standards, visit /


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