Zenith Staybrite Ltd pleads guilty to 5 breaches of Consumer Rights Protection via its legal representatives at Guildford Crown Court on Friday 15 July.
Consumer Rights Protection should deter companies; their directors and sales people from misleading offers that disguise “time limited special offers” by using artificially inflated initial prices, sometimes referred to as “Drop selling”.
Consumers feel pressured into making immediate decisions because they falsely believe that the “discount” was time limited, when actually it was artificially high, to test the buyers appetite.
Please understand that It is not illegal to have a list price for windows, doors and home improvement goods which starts high and has discounts applied to it, providing these reductions are also listed, are genuinely available and well documented.
For instance if a retail customer offers a company a 10% discount in return for their home being a show house for the area, that’s ok, providing it is detailed and available to all.
Zenith Staybrite Ltd, originally called Home Install Limited, was formed in 2008 (company reg number 06516827).
They are FENSA registered and according to their website, they trade as Zenith Home. They are Registered in England No. 06516827, operate from Joseph King House, Abbey Farm Commercial Park, Horsham St Faith, Norwich, NR10 3JU and proud to be part of the ENTO Group more importantly they are “Authorised and Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority”
It seems this investigation has taken two years to come to court but Buckingham and Surrey trading standards are delighted to have won the case which confirmed the firm were engaged with quoting inflated prices to make discounts look better.
According to the Surrey News there were 5 offences which included a house builder being offered a huge reduction of more than 50%, from £52k down to £22k, other cases saw reductions to just £16k from £25k starting price. Seems this was very common practice as eight other house builders suffered similarly.
Six other defendants from Zenith Staybrite Ltd were also charged with unfair trading charges, but found not guilty because of the lack of evidence, however they did sign written undertakings, not to use unfair trading practices themselves or risk legal action.
Seems the victims in this investigation into unfair and high-pressure practices, could now be compensated as Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards seek compensation from the firm.
According to the Surrey News Richard Walsh, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Localities and Community Wellbeing, said:
“This was a major investigation over two years into high-pressure sales tactics which drove customers to make on-the-spot purchases they might not otherwise have made and we hope the outcome will serve as a warning to firms across the country tempted to resort to such practices. Our advice to consumers is always to be wary of deals and discounts which seem too good to be true and hard-sell tactics geared towards rushing them into signing on the dotted line.”
It is unclear how long the compensation case will take, but sentencing of those found guilty will be held on Friday 7 October.
So how would you avoid being conned by inflated prices, how do you know if something is very competitive because of a genuine offer or simply the result of artificially high prices to start with?
Well for starters, never feel forced to buy, take your time, consider alternative quotes, ask neighbours if they have contacts or recommended tradespeople.
Ask yourself how can someone do this same work for half the price, something cannot be right. Most companies who comply with regulations, registrations etc pay extra for memberships, so their costs will be higher but you’ll have more redress should things turn bad.
Always pay by credit card, you have extra protection, ensure deposits or stage payments are additionally covered by your chosen company with IBG Insurance Backed Guarantees so that if they scarper with your dosh, you have other routes to claim a refund.
Most of all, do some research, check to see if the company belongs to a trusted trade organisation like the Glass and Glazing Federation (The GGF) who have their own rules of conduct for all members which comply with the code for trading standards or backed by the Double Glazing Conservatory Ombudsman Scheme (DGCOS)
Use sites like ours to check their accreditations, read independent reviews on our website (not written by or added by the company themselves), and check with schemes exist or is it just a clever marketing trick to get you to sign up.
Remember if you buy from the internet you can return goods regardless of being faulty or not (because you haven’t seen a sample) and you have extended time to cancel a contract (just over 1 year) if the company fails to inform you of your cancellation rights, at the time of signing the contract.