Court action taken against Lochaber builder.

Highland Trading Standards have obtained an Enforcement Order against local builder, Norman Hughes for unfair business practices in Sheriff Court, Fort William.  

Mr Norman Hughes has traded under various business names which include “Hughes Paving and Surfacing Services” (also known and advertised as: “Hughes Paving Services” and “Hughes Roofing and Building Services”), throughout different addresses in the Lochaber area for some years. 

During this time Highland Trading Standards became increasingly alarmed over the steady increase of complaints by consumers who have contracted with Mr Hughes through his various businesses, to carry out building improvements/projects on their homes.

Consumer complaints received by The Highland Council Trading Standards Service are now the evidential content of an Enforcement Order against Mr Norman Hughes under the Enterprise Act 2002. Consumer complaints range in both cost of individual contracts and specification with the running theme being either incomplete or shoddy workmanship being carried out on homes, garages, patios and outbuildings and gardens.  The financial cost to consumers involved vary from a few hundred pounds to several thousand in order to put matters right.

Gordon Robb, Highland Council’s Trading Standards Manager explains: “The consumers who have contacted our Service have been affected financially in several ways.  As well as work not being carried out satisfactorily, some consumers have incurred extra costs as they have had to employ other contractors to put matters right.”

Mr Robb adds: “Mr Hughes has also failed, as the law requires informing consumers of their consumer rights, such as their right to cancel a consumer contract agreed in their own home.  This has resulted in considerable financial hardship to the consumers involved, as they have not being able to exercise their right to cancel and request a refund of their money.”

Website addresses have also come under scrutiny by Highland Trading Standards regarding Mr Hughes business practices.  Consumers have reported that they have tried to make contact with Mr Hughes through the geographical addresses and telephone numbers shown on his advertised websites, but have been unable to do so as the information shown has been both incomplete and incorrect.  E-Commerce rules require information, such as contact details for advertising businesses, to be current and correct.

Mr Robb continues: “Trading Standards has tried to work with Mr Hughes to bring his business practices into compliance with the law and to resolve outstanding consumer complaints. Regrettably he has failed to respond and we have, therefore, had no alternative but to apply for this Enforcement Order.  Officers will now continue to monitor consumer complaints regarding Mr Norman Hughes and his various businesses to ensure that the conditions placed in the Order is observed.  If Mr Hughes fails to adhere to the strict requirements of the Order then we will not hesitate to take further appropriate action.” 

Highland Trading Standards are interested in hearing from any members of the public who may have had work carried out by the above reported business.

Consumers can contact Highland Trading Standards through their partners, Citizens Advice Consumer Service Helpline on 0845 04 05 06.  Highland Trading Standards can also be contacted directly at 38 Harbour Road, Inverness IV1 1UF or by e-mail to trading.standards@highland.gov.uk.

24 Jun 2013
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