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Press releases 2002 -

New campaign urges Northern Ireland shoppers 'know your rights on the high street'

PN 30a/02     22 May 2002

Shoppers in Northern Ireland are being targeted as part of a major OFT consumer awareness campaign on shoppers' rights. Following a radio advertising campaign across Northern Ireland, the OFT will be visiting the CastleCourt shopping centre in Belfast on 23 May to distribute 'Hot Shopping Tips', its new pocket guide on shoppers' rights. Trading Standards officers will also be present to give free help and advice on anything from rogue traders to internet shopping.

The OFT visit is being supported by Northern Ireland Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Sir Reg Empey MLA and forms part of the OFT's regional roadshow programme which aims to raise awareness among local consumers of their rights on the high street, so they can make informed decisions when buying goods and services.

The 'Hot Shopping Tips' guide includes the following helpful tips and advice for Northern Ireland shoppers:

  • any goods you purchase must be of 'satisfactory quality', 'as described' and 'fit for their purpose'
  • a retailer cannot avoid giving a refund on faulty goods by blaming the manufacturer as the contract is with the seller
  • a credit card provider is liable as well as the retailer if the item bought costs between £100 and £30,000 and is faulty, broken or doesn't arrive
  • consumers who shop from home have additional rights, including a cooling off period (usually seven days) in which to change their minds.

The OFT is also holding a seminar on the morning of 23 May in Belfast for small and medium sized businesses in Northern Ireland to explain the OFT's role, listen to their views of how markets are working and help their understanding of competition and consumer protection laws.

Launching the Northern Ireland roadshow, John Vickers, Director General of Fair Trading said:

'The OFT wants to know first-hand how markets are working for consumers in Northern Ireland and across the UK.

'An informed consumer is in a better position to get what they want. If you know your rights on the high street and shop around, you are more likely to get the best deal.'

Welcoming the campaign, Northern Ireland Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Sir Reg Empey MLA said:

'It is essential that all consumers know their rights, and DETI's Trading Standards Service takes a proactive approach across Northern Ireland in advising and protecting consumers.

'My Department is also involved in ongoing work which aims to place consumer rights at the heart of government in Northern Ireland through a consumer strategy. This comprehensive strategy includes measures aimed at targeting information to consumers, through for example a consumer helpline and also actions focused on protecting vulnerable consumers such as the young and elderly.'

The OFT stand will be in the CastleCourt shopping centre in Belfast between 0930 and 1700 on Thursday 23 May.


1. Media copies of 'Hot Shopping Tips' are available from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment press office or the Office of Fair Trading press office.

2. Non-media copies of 'Hot Shopping Tips' are available by calling 0870 60 60 321. You can also download the pocket guide in pdf format (16 kb).

3. Northern Ireland is the third in the OFT's new series of regional roadshows. The first roadshow took place in Bristol on 27 February 2002 (See OFT release 11a/02) and the second in Leeds on 20 March 2002 (See OFT release 13a/02). For further details on the roadshows programme see OFT release 11/02.

4. The Northern Ireland Trading Standards Service is part of the Northern Ireland Government's Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment. In the rest of the UK, Trading Standards (or Consumer Protection) Departments are run by local authorities such as district or borough councils.

5. Trading Standards Service provides a range of information on consumer issues in Northern Ireland. Telephone 028 9025 3900.

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