‘Dishonesty’ of online business

Court
Court

During a two-month period in 2014, a Portadown jewellers was the most complained about business to Trading Standards in Northern Ireland, Craigavon Magistrates Court heard on Tuesday.

And a judge described the online trading of the company as ‘rather sleekit’ and ‘plain dishonesty’.

The defendants in the case were Richard O’Hara (36), Linvara, Tandragee, and JRN Retail Group Limited, William Street, Portadown.

They each were charged with 10 offences comprised of five of engaging in misleading commercial practice, three of engaging in unfair commercial practice and two of knowingly or recklessly engaging in commercial practice.

For each of the offences a £100 fine was imposed making a total of £2,000 in fines and 26 weeks were allowed for the fines to be paid.

Mr Brendan Hagan, representing both defendants, pleaded guilty on their behalf to all of the charges.

The court heard that Trading Standards began receiving complaints about JRN from consumers who had ordered goods online and had not received them. The business had already taken money from customers’ accounts.

The prosecutor said that Trading Standards worked with the company to avoid the court proceedings and met with the directors.

A letter was sent to JRN urging them to review their online ordering programme and only take payment when they could dispatch the goods.

But Trading Standards continued to receive complaints and the company was urged to take action immediately to remedy the issue to avoid legal action.

He added that they were carrying out unfair trading practices. They were taking payment before ascertaining whether they had the goods. They were saying the goods would be received in three to five days when they were not in a position to deliver.

“They failed to follow the advice given by Trading Standards,” said the prosecutor. “From 1-7-14 to 30-9-14 they were the most complained about business to Trading Standards in Northern Ireland.”

District Judge Des Perry commented: “It’s all rather sleekit.”

Going through the charges the prosecutor said in the first three, involving a heart monitor and two watches, prices were revised up and in the case of one watch they simply refused to supply the item.

The fourth and fifth charges were sales promotion indicating sales were about to end when in fact they continued.

The sixth charge concerned a television which was advertised at £429.99 with a sale price of £365.49 whereas the tv had never been offered for sale at the higher price.

The seventh charge involved the advertising of a Seiko watch for £168 without establishing that the goods could be supplied.

Charge eight was knowingly taken payment without ascertaining they could supply the goods.

Charge nine involved failing to refund money within the time periods stipulated.

The final charge, number 10, was that the company claimed to offer a prize promotion, a 100 per cent cash back prize, without awarding the prizes.