Suzanne Dickenson Director of Trade Price Sofas (Merthyr Tydfil) Limited (TPS) has been fined almost £20,000 for offences contrary to labelling requirements, required by the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire)(Safety) Regulations 1988.
A full inspection of the TPS stores located at Hepworth Park, Pontyclun and Penygarnddu Industrial Estate, Merthyr Tydfil were carried out as a result of a consumer complaint alleging misleading statements in relation to the company returns policy made by the Director Mrs Suzanne Dickenson contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
During these inspections offences contrary to the labelling requirements required by the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire)(Safety) Regulations 1988 in respect of display labels and permanent labels were identified. In addition, the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 also require the producer to label furniture or its packaging with its name and address as well as a product reference or batch number, the offence for non-compliance is contrary to Regulation 20(2).
- 31 items of furniture were found not to have display labels attached and 15 items of furniture were found not to have a permanent label attached, 33 items of upholstered furniture did not have batch numbers or producer details on the permanent labels that were attached to them, no packaging was attached to the products. As a result, Suspension notices were issued under General Product Safety Regulations 2005.
The distributor (Trade Price Sofas) is required to keep documentation necessary for tracing the origin of the product by the General Product Safety Regulations. During the investigation, Mrs Dickenson provided officers with supplier contact details in respect of the furniture subject to the suspension notice. It was later established that some of this information was false. Providing false information is an offence contrary to Section 12(4)(b) of the Consumer Protection Act 1987.
Four items of furniture that did not comply with labelling requirements were seized and sent for testing. All four items failed the tests applied to them in respect of flammability requirements in respect of foam, cover material or both. It was also established that Mrs Dickenson had contravened the suspension notice by selling furniture which was listed on it.
Domestic upholstered furniture must meet fire safety standards, which include the fabrics, foam fillings and non-foam fillings such as feathers.
When purchasing any upholstered furniture consumers are advised to look for the display label – a swing ticket attached to the furniture, which should be easily visible. The permanent label may be located under a loose seat cushion or if the upholstery is fixed, secured to the base of the item or located at the junction between the seat and back.
The permanent label contains important information about the safety of your sofa and allows a sample to be identified if any problems are found with the production of it. After purchasing a sofa you may feel the permanent label is unsightly and be tempted to remove it. We would strongly advise against this. When you come to get a new sofa you will not be able to pass your old sofa to a charity for re-use facility without a permanent label, as this is the only means of checking that the sofa meets UK fire regulations. Without the label the sofa will need to go to a waste recycling centre.
Louise Davies, Director of Public Health Protection and Community Services, said:
“This important prosecution highlights the importance of checking the goods you purchase and ensuring that they are safe to be in your home. Luckily in this instance we were alerted to an issue and able to take the items off sale, so that they couldn’t cause a danger to the public. We advise our residents to check the labels on any furniture that they buy and to report anything that they think is suspicious.
“Mrs Dickenson, has paid a heavy price of almost £20,000 in total, but this price could have been a lot higher. We hope that the sentence that she has received will ensure that she doesn’t do it again and acts as a deterrent to other businesses to stick to the legislation for the safety of the public.”
The director of the company Mrs Suzanne Dickenson appeared in court last month and was charged with the following:
- Mrs Dickenson entered guilty pleas to 53 charges. This included 42 x Labelling offences, 6 x offences for non-compliance with flammability requirements all contrary to Regulation 12(1) Consumer Protection Act 1987, Mrs Suzanne Dickenson was charged as Director for said offence by virtue of Section 40(2) of the Consumer Protection Act 1987.
- 4 offence for contravention of Suspension notice to Regulation 20(4) General Product Safety Regulations 2005, Mrs Suzanne Dickenson was charged as Director for the said offence by virtue of Regulation 31(2) of the General Product Safety Regulations 2005.
- 1 offence for making a false statement in relation to manufacture details contrary to Section 12(4)(b) and that Mrs Suzanne Dickenson was charged as Director for the said offence by virtue of Section (40)(2) of the Consumer Protection Act 1987.
- Charge 1- Fined £1000
- Charge 36- Fined £1000
- Charge 43- Fined £1500
- Charge 44- Fined £1500
- Charge 48- Fined £2000
- Total Fine: £7000
- Government surcharge- £2000
- Costs- £7693.47
- Compensation- £2899.99 to the consumer.
To be paid at a rate of £500 per month starting on the last working day of next month.
For more information on trading standards and consumer rights visit www.rctcbc.gov.uk/TradingStandards
Posted on 02/08/2023