Thursday, 3 October 2013

Buy with Confidence using the Trading Standards scheme - or not

Friends of mine have recently had a real problem with their curtains. They are not the sort who just pick anyone from an advert. In fact when it comes to trading standards, they demand the highest, so they are always likely to do background checks so that they can buy with confidence.

They bought some very expensive material and after checking with customers the reputation of a curtain maker, who is registered with the "Buy with Confidence" scheme, they handed it over.  The job was quite easy: a couple of curtains floor to ceiling, and three sets of much shorter ones.

The result: a bodged job, with seams not straight, hems undulating, fabric stretched, lining showing, pleats uneven.  Now I don't like making curtains; in fact I hate it.  As many of you know, I'd rather make a silk wedding dress and corded lace bolero. So I'm likely to rush a curtain job and make do here and there.  But even I wouldn't have hung those curtains because they were so obviously wrong.

Duly summoned back to see the problem, the curtain maker agreed there were faults.  She admitted to subbing out the job and not having checked it.  But instead of taking the curtains away and completely remaking them which would have been the only possible way to deal with the problem, the curtain maker did a few adjustments here and there, resulting in unseemly creases. The error was them compounded when the curtains were steamed.  The result of this was to cause shrinkage in one layer of fabric (it has two distinct layers which are intervowen) and not necessarily of the other.  Yes, you've imagined correctly.  The result? Puckering.

My friends were unable to get any satisfaction and now had ruined fabric and a mess hanging in their lounge. Eventually after giving the maker several opportunities for redemption, they resorted to the small claims court where they won hands down on all counts. But have they got the money? No. The curtain maker has now asked for a variation of the payment order and my friends must wait while the liability is discharged in small amounts over several months.

So why am I telling you all this?  Well the curtain maker advertises using the "Buy with Confidence" scheme and logo obtained through Trading Standards at our local Council.  The council representative has been entirely useless in helping my friends or having the curtain maker removed from the scheme, despite the court judgement which is a direct result of their own incompetence and failure to put right a problem. I see that the business is still listed both on the Buy with Confidence website and our own Council's.

And I've just opened the latest edition of a local publication to find the same curtain maker advertising with the "Buy with Confidence" logo.  So, if you're thinking of using a supplier and you see this logo, if I were you I would treat it with great scepticism.  All it appears to mean is that the supplier originally jumped through a few hoops to get their credentials. If they don't subsequently fit the bill there doesn't appear to be any mechanism to remove them from the scheme or if there is, it's not working.

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