A double-glazing firm was today ordered to pay fines and costs of £330,000 for using illegal high-pressure sales tactics such as quoting inflated prices to make discounts look better and falsely claiming offers were time limited.
Zenith Staybrite Ltd was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £250,000 following a prosecution brought by Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards*.
The firm pleaded guilty last year to ten offences under Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations following an investigation which began in Surrey and went on to involve residents around the South East.
Five offences were engaging in an unfair commercial practice by quoting an initial inflated price before applying a number of discounts to give the impression of a bargain.
The other five were engaging in an unfair commercial practice by falsely stating that products would be available at a particular price for a limited time to persuade customers to make an immediate decision. More details can be found here.
At Guildford Crown Court on Friday 23 June, Judge Stephen Climie fined Zenith Staybrite, whose registered address is Winsford Industrial Estate, Cheshire, £8,000 for each offence, giving an £80,000 fine. The firm was also ordered to pay costs of £250,000 and a victim surcharge of £120.
Steve Ruddy, head of Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards, said: “Agents for Zenith Staybrite used high-pressure tactics to make sales such as applying a series of discounts to create the impression of a good price and concocting time limits on discounts to force on-the-spot decisions. As part of a two-year investigation around the South East, trading standards officers spoke to residents who were left distressed and angry after being rushed into signing on the dotted line and later regretting their purchases.
“We hope this substantial fine will send a powerful message to firms across the country tempted to resort to such practices.”
*Buckinghamshire and Surrey operate a joint trading standards service