Warning over one day sales

TRADING standards officers today warned Suffolk residents to keep their wits about them at one-day sales.The warning came after a sale, claiming to be backed by national catalogue companies Argos and Littlewoods Index, was held in Felixstowe.

TRADING standards officers today warned Suffolk residents to keep their wits about them at one-day sales.

The warning came after a sale, claiming to be backed by national catalogue companies Argos and Littlewoods Index, was held in Felixstowe.

Leaflets were posted through doors in Felixstowe advertising the sale which claimed to have irons for £3, TVs for £10 and a £199 Motorola mobile phone for £25 on offer.

The company, which organised the sale at the Waverley Hotel, Wolsey Gardens, did not state its name or contact details on the leaflet.


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It would only accept cash and said its 'Great January Sale' would start at 12.30pm prompt on January 19 - and "due to security reasons, no one will be admitted ten minutes after doors open."

Organisers are also charging a £2 admission fee.

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A spokeswoman for Argos said they had not given permission for their logo to be used and said Argos did not hold sales outside their own stores. A spokesman for Littlewoods Index said it had nothing to do with the sale.

They were however aware of similar unauthorised sales having taken place in the past.

Steve Greenfield, county trading standards officer, said: "Operating one-day sales is seen as big business. Traders 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.

"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."

The manager of the Waverley Hotel, Suresh Mohindra, was unavailable for comment.

A Lowestoft hotel manager apologised last month after a similar event advertised as a sale turned out to be an auction falsely claiming to sell discounted mail order and catalogue goods.

Like the Felixstowe sale, the 'Great January Sale' held at Hotel Victoria, was advertised via leaflets which featured the logos of Argos and Littlewoods Index and promised price cuts on ex-catalogue store goods. Customers also had to pay a £2 admission fee.

Earlier this month, police and undercover trading standards officers attended a one-day sale at the Marriott Hotel, Ipswich, where customers were sold 'blind lots' that contained products judged to be worth less than the amount handed over by customers.

Although no illegal practices were found to have taken place at the sale, the organiser's advertised phone number did not work.

Have you experienced a problem with a one day sale?

Call The Evening Star's Felixstowe newsdesk on 01394 284109

Beware of well-rehearsed routines which encourages you to part with money for goods which may be bought more cheaply elsewhere.

Look out for goods which are of inferior quality to those advertised in localised leaflet drop.

Be wary of goods for which there is little hope of redress in the event of them being faulty or misdescribed.

Think carefully before you go to the sale – the advertised bargains may not be what they appear.

Examine the goods before you buy – are you sure of their quality?

Think before you pay – you may have trouble obtaining a refund from a distance, beware of so called customer helplines.

For further advice contact Suffolk County Council's trading standards on 01473 584358.

Source: Suffolk County Council trading standards service.

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