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Unknown man in van can land you in trouble

Published Wednesday, 26th May 2021

Worcestershire Trading Standards is warning businesses to remain vigilant and not to buy goods from people they don’t know or trust.

This follows a number of recent incidents in the County were shop owners claimed to have bought unsafe or counterfeit goods from ‘an unknown man in a van’ who calls at their shop out of the blue with a ‘too good to be true deal’ .

Retailers are legally responsible for the goods that they sell, including toys, tobacco, alcohol, and a huge range of consumer goods.

It is illegal to supply unsafe, dangerous products or fake goods.

Traders are being told that is best practice to keep details from where goods have been purchased, and wherever possible evidence of compliance with the relevant regulations and standards.

Failure to comply with the laws may result in criminal proceedings and a fine, along with forfeiture of the goods and damage to the reputation of your business.

Councillor Matt Dormer, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Communities said: “If retailers cannot prove to us where they had the goods from the we have little choice but to take legal action against them as we are unable to identify those responsible. I would urge shop owners to think again if they are being offered goods below market price by some body they don’t know who calls at their shop uninvited. I’d like to thank our trading standards team for their continued hard work protecting our residents.”

The warning comes after recent seizures of unsafe toys and counterfeit cigarettes from shops across the county.

Trading Standards Officers have seized over 100,000 cigarettes in 2021 and are warning shops in the County to buy cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco from a wholesalers or suppliers registered with HMRC.

In another recent incident, officers found 92 non-compliant toys on sale in a shop in Worcester. Toys must have an EU or UK address, relevant safety mark (CE or UKCA) and appropriate safety warnings.

Simon Wilkes, Head of Regulatory Services added: “There is only one winner in these situations and it’s not the child who gets the latest toy or the smoker who gets cheap cigarettes, or the retailer who ends up in Court. It’s the chancer and “fly by nights who sell this stuff and in the case of counterfeit goods, it’s the global network of criminals who controls this hugely profitable trade.”

Businesses can find out more about their legal responsibilities by visiting the dedicated Business Companion website pages

You can anonymously report shops selling illicit tobacco via the Keep It Out website or fake goods via the Anonymous Hotline.