The Trading Standards Team undertakes a wide range of duties to ensure that businesses trade fairly and consumers are protected. These include :-
- Fair Trading (including Pricing) - ensuring the goods and services are accurately described and that pricing practices are fair, across arrange of business sectors from car dealers to estate agents, and from supermarkets to corner shops. The service also investigates "scams" and credit issues and provides assistance to vulnerable consumers.
- Product Safety - ensuring that consumer goods such as toys, electrical items, cosmetics, gas appliances, upholstered furniture, and second-hand items, are safe. Recent projects have included checking sunbed UV outputs at tanning salons, and electrical safety.
- Weights and Measures - in addition to weighing machines in shops and supermarkets, and measuring equipment in pubs, the service also regularly tests over 30 heating oil tankers, 30 weighbridges and over 500 retail fuel dispensers to ensure that customers are getting the quantity they are paying for. Checks are also regularly conducted at food packers and bakeries to ensure that pre-packed foodstuffs contain the quantity stated on the packet or bottle.
- Age Restricted Sales - the service enforces legislation and provides businesses with advice regarding preventing illegal sales of alcohol cigarettes and knives to children. The service also ensures that shops are complying with age-restricted product legislation by working with teenage volunteers who undertake covert test purchases of alcohol, cigarettes, knives, etc. under officer supervision.
- Other Consumer Problems - including E-commerce: the service also investigates on-line complaints and scams, including via social media and on-line auctions.
The work of the service is undertaken by routine inspection, in response to complaints, and by proactive surveys or audits of particular business sectors or trade practices. Samples or test-purchases of goods and services may be made to ensure that they comply with consumer and safety legislation.
The work of the service conforms with the published Public Protection Enforcement Policy and will attempt to work with businesses in order to resolve issues and achieve compliance. The service however has a range of enforcement tools available, from formal written notices through to prosecution if necessary.