Dumfries and Galloway households seek scam and consumer help amid cost-of-living crisis


Immediate release 28/11/23

Hundreds of households across Dumfries and Galloway have sought help with scams, faulty goods, and problems with local traders in the last year, according to new figures. Advice Direct Scotland, which runs the national consumer advice service consumeradvice.scot, recorded more than 1,300 complaints in the region in the 12 months to October.

Across the country there were a total of 42,953 complaints, as the cost-of-living crisis squeezed family budgets, with Dumfries and Galloway ranked tenth in Scotland for the number of disputes and inquiries over lost money and breached consumer rights.

In the past year, the charity dealt with 1,300 complaints and 140 inquiries from consumers in Dumfries and Galloway, recording 370 formal grievances against companies. Advice Direct Scotland’s advisors also received 25 complaints from businesses in the region.

  • Vehicles were the most frequently complained of issue, comprising almost a quarter (23 per cent) of all cases.
  • Home maintenance and improvements followed as the next most common issue, accounting for 14 per cent of the reported cases.
  • Problems related to other products, and energy and heating, each accounted for 6 per cent, while glazing accounted for 5 per cent.
  • There were 30 cases related to fraud, problems also included used and new cars, building and roofing work, and glazing issues.

 Problems with a purchase

Experts from the service recently helped a grandmother from near Lockerbie secure a £94 refund for a defective watch purchased online for her husband.

The 77-year-old woman from the Lockerbie area sought help from Advice Direct Scotland after experiencing problems with a self-winding watch bought online as a present for her husband’s 76th birthday.

Despite having sent the watch back twice, it still wasn’t working, leading the grandmother-of-four to request a refund.

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, she was entitled to a repair or a replacement under the short-term right to reject.

Since these attempts were unsuccessful, she exercised the final right to reject, entitling her to a refund or a price reduction and after being informed of her rights and using a template letter provided, she secured a refund of £94.

The grandmother from near Lockerbie, who wishes to remain anonymous, said:

“It was really disappointing that the watch wasn’t working properly as it didn’t keep time very well, especially as it was a birthday present.

“I’d already sent it back once, and then again, and the retailer said they’d had it checked by the manufacturer and couldn’t find anything wrong.

“That’s when I decided to contact Advice Direct Scotland, and the help I received was really useful – especially when it can be so difficult to speak in person to an organisation these days.

“I was able to adapt the letter they provided, and the matter was settled within a couple of hours.

Make Informed Choices

Advice Direct Scotland is encouraging the public to make informed spending choices and remain vigilant against scams, citing tips like using a credit card for purchases over £100, as it will be protected under the Consumer Credit Act.

Goods should also meet satisfactory quality standards with no faults or damage, and they should be durable.

Conor Forbes, Director of Policy with Advice Direct Scotland, said:

“The cost-of-living crisis has had a concerning impact on Scottish consumers, making it more important than ever for them to be aware of their rights and know what to do if things go wrong.

“We have witnessed significant demand from individuals across Dumfries and Galloway seeking assistance for various issues.

“People are understandably more anxious about ensuring they receive the refunds, repairs, or replacements they are entitled to.

“Unfortunately, we also know that scammers adapt their tactics to take advantage of the challenging circumstances facing many families in Dumfries and Galloway.

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Scots warned over Black Friday scams

Black Friday Scams

Immediate release 23/11/23

Scottish shoppers have been urged to be on their guard against scams as Black Friday and Cyber Monday approach.

Advice Direct Scotland, which runs the national consumer advice service consumeradvice.scot, has encouraged consumers to stay safe while shopping online and remain cautious of fake deals.

The charity said fraudsters are increasingly using new tactics to target struggling Scots seeking bargains amid the cost-of-living crisis. Most retailers are already running a series of offers, with many consumers planning to shop online over the coming weekend.

Scammers exploit shoppers’ vulnerability and distraction, especially during timed Black Friday sales, using urgency to pressure victims into parting with money, bank details or personal information.

Consumers are urged to stay cautious of fake deals presented through phishing emails, texts, and social media adverts. Another tactic involves bogus websites impersonating legitimate ones, accepting payment but failing to deliver goods. Criminals also employ methods such as selling counterfeit and empty gift cards and creating fake order confirmation pages.

Advice Direct Scotland has issued key tips for online shoppers, including:

  • Research the online retailer before buying. Ensure that it is legitimate, with a secure website, a valid UK address, returns policy, and terms and conditions.
  • Use a credit card if possible. It may be easier to get your money back if something goes wrong. If you don’t have a credit card, online services like PayPal can protect your bank details.
  • Check the returns policy. Retailers have different policies on returning unwanted goods, but you have the right to return most goods purchased online within 14 days on receipt of delivery, for a full refund.
  • Be savvy. If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Scots have also been encouraged to avoid impulse buying and check they are getting value for money by comparing prices of items available elsewhere.

Paul Hansen, consumer lead for Advice Direct Scotland, said:“With the cost-of-living crisis having a worrying impact on households across Scotland, it’s understandable that people will be looking for Black Friday and Cyber Monday bargains.“However, fraudsters are always on the lookout for opportunities to deceive, especially taking advantage of shoppers feeling rushed to secure Christmas gifts, making them vulnerable to dodgy traders and online scammers.“It’s crucial for shoppers to check who they are buying from and ensure that their purchases are safe, providing value for money.“Be savvy, slow down, and do your research. If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.“Realising that you may have been the victim of a fraud can be extremely upsetting and worrying, but remember there is no shame in being scammed.“The most effective way to stop scammers in their tracks is to report a scam to scamwatch.scot when you see one.“Consumers who are concerned or need help should contact one of our specialist consumer advisers for free, impartial, and practical advice on 0808 164 6000 or www.consumeradvice.scot.”

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