Highland Trading standards advice and guidance on COVID-19 and scams

Highland Council’s Trading Standards is providing advice and guidance to businesses and consumers affected by COVID-19 at www.highland.gov.uk/tradingstandards

David MacKenzie Trading Standards Manager said: “We are providing information for consumers and businesses on cancelled bookings for accommodation and services; hand sanitiser products; and financial protection for small businesses at present. We will add to our website as more intelligence and information becomes available to us.”

Cancelled Bookings for Accommodation and Services

Many Highland tourist businesses face the problem of cancelled bookings. Consumers are unable to travel due to the COVID-19 restrictions and many businesses are forced to temporarily close. These are uniquely difficult times for Highland businesses, and we want to ensure that they are aware of all the options available to assist in these situations. We think that it is reasonable for businesses to make their customers aware of these options. For example:

  • If the consumer has paid using a credit card and the amount is over £100, they may be able to claim their money back from their card provider under “Section 75” equal liability rules.
  • If the payment was by debit card, the consumer may be able to make a claim from their card provider under the banking system’s “Chargeback” provisions.
  • The consumer may be able to make a claim on holiday insurance, e.g. an annual policy, more information is available from the Financial Conduct Authority
  • Any dispute that a consumer has with a financial company over insurance, credit cards or debit cards can be raised with the Financial Ombudsman Service . This is a free-to-use and highly regarded dispute resolution system.
  • It may suit both consumer and business to arrange a rebooking for a later date.
  • Detailed information for tourist businesses can be accessed from VisitScotland .

Hand Sanitiser Products (not soap-based etc.)

  • Hand sanitiser products are in huge demand and some products are no longer available. Demand has led to some businesses (e.g. spirit distillers) diversifying into producing hand sanitising products. Products which are manufactured with the final intention of "destroying, deterring, rendering harmless, preventing the action of, or otherwise exerting a controlling effect on, any harmful organism" are currently controlled under the European Biocidal Products Regulations 2012  under a category defined as Product-type 1: Human hygiene. Biocidal products in this group are used for human hygiene purposes, applied on or in contact with human skin or scalps for the primary purpose of disinfecting the skin or scalp.
  • Trading Standards enforce these regulations in shops, but the current rules surrounding the manufacture and approval of these products need to be checked with the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) .
  • Hand sanitisers made for your own personal use are excluded from the Regulation, however if it is supplied to third-parties then the law applies, and advice should be sought from the HSE.
  • Soap-based or hand softener gels and creams with an antibacterial effect are regulated under cosmetic regulations.
  • Advice from the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association .

Financial Protection for Small Businesses

  • Individuals buying goods or services over £100 and less than £30,000 using a credit card are given additional protection if there has been a breach of contract under “Section 75” equal liability rules 

Businesses who use ordinary (non-business) credit cards facilities may also benefit from the same protections even if it is in relation to items or services bought for the business.

Card users should speak to their provider if they wish to make a claim. If a business has a right to make a claim and this is not honoured by the card provider, small businesses may be able to raise this matter with the Financial Ombudsman Service .

The Scottish Government has also issued general advice to businesses, see https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/coronavirus-advice

27 Mar 2020