Warning for bargain hunters

BARGAIN-hunters tempted by cheap goods flocked to a Suffolk sale to be greeted by trading standards officers issuing a warning.Before the one-day sale by Jones Webb Ltd started at noon yesterday the car park at Courtyard Marriott Hotel was overflowing, and Trading Standards officers handed out leaflets to hundreds in the queue for entry.

BARGAIN-hunters tempted by cheap goods flocked to a Suffolk sale to be greeted by trading standards officers issuing a warning.

Before the one-day sale by Jones Webb Ltd started at noon yesterday the car park at Courtyard Marriott Hotel was overflowing, and Trading Standards officers handed out leaflets to hundreds in the queue for entry.

The leaflets warned of the pitfalls of one-day sales, advising potential customers that goods could be of inferior quality, and how it is often difficult to get a refund.

Undercover officers also bought electrical goods to test, and although no faults were found, quality was raised as an issue.


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One officer handed over £40 for a 'blind lot' and received a digital camera which worked, but was not believed to be worth the cash.

A Trading Standards spokeswoman said "Towards the end of the sale, four £400 blind lots were sold, containing unbranded goods not worth £400.

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"One lot contained a Sanyo microwave, vacuum cleaner and a knife set, another was an Alba DVD player and 50 discs, plus cordless headphones and an unbranded discman. Another £400 lot contained two watches and a jewellery box. The problem was that people could not see what they were buying. There were no DVD players for £40, Nintendos for £15 or Flymos for £10 which had been advertised."

But despite the warnings, and a police presence at the sale, nothing illegal was found, and the events at 12noon, 3.30pm and 7pm proceeded with many sales.

The auctioneer jokingly said the goods were not stolen then added 'well some of them aren't', urged people to test them before leaving.

He mentioned luxury goods like laptop computers and plasma screen televisions which were not sold, at least at the 12noon sale. Plasma-screen tvs were offered for £775 and £1,195 but nobody bought one at the midday sale.

Before attending the event, the Evening Star tried to call Jones Webb Ltd at the phone number advertised, and the number was unobtainable.

A PO Box number in Manchester was the only listed address.

Steve Greenfield, county trading standards officer said: "Thousands of pounds are being spent at these sales which frequently offer goods of poor quality that often cost more than they would in high street stores.

"Customers are convinced by artful sales staff that they are being offered goods at bargain prices. However, many realise later after examining the goods that they have been conned.

"Operating one-day sales is seen as big business by unscrupulous traders. They tour the country, advertising goods a day or so before the sale takes place. The operators then often quickly disappear from the scene at the end of the day without giving any details that consumers can use to complain or ask for refunds."

Officers are inviting all likely venues to participate in a scheme to vet and monitor all potential one-day sale bookings before they accept them.

For advice call Trading Standards on 01473 584358.

N Have you experienced a problem with this one-day sale?

Call the Evening Star newsdesk on 01473 324789, or email StarNews@eveningstar.co.uk.

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