Consumer advice policy

Our aim

  • To promote a fair, healthy, and safe trading environment: advising Lancashire residents with consumer problems about goods and services, and use the information gained to identify and tackle trading malpractices.

Our policy

  • All initial contacts will be directed to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service. We will deal with complaints which are specifically referred to us by them for further advice or investigation.
  • We would normally expect consumers seeking advice and assistance to have taken some steps themselves before we will mediate or intervene. We expect advice provided by Citizens Advice to have been followed before we will assist.
  • We will take into consideration the vulnerability of the consumer, the likely impact of the problem, and the monetary value of the complaint when considering the extent of our actions. For example for complaints less than £30 in value we would normally limit our involvement to verbal advice to the consumer and/or trader.
  • For complex cases or those over the County Court small claims limit of £10,000 we may suggest seeking advice and/or assistance from a solicitor.
  • We are only able to mediate in disputes between consumers and traders therefore, in the case of private sales, only basic advice will be given.
  • We do not provide advice to non-Lancashire residents. Non-Lancashire residents will be referred to their own local authority.

We will

  • Advise Lancashire residents referred by the Citizens Advice Consumer Service about their legal rights when buying goods or services.
  • Guide you in pursuing your complaint yourself.
  • Identify sources of information and help.
  • Where appropriate, mediate on your behalf to attempt to resolve the problem.
  • Where appropriate, assist you in pursuing a justifiable complaint through the county court.
  • Identify and refer potential criminal offences for investigation.
  • Use information provided to identify unfair trading practices and seek improvements in the law.
  • Refer non-Lancashire residents to the appropriate authority.
  • Assist other authorities in enquiries about Lancashire businesses.

We cannot

  • Demand refunds, replacements or apologies from traders.
  • Take civil court action on your behalf.
  • Pursue a complaint which is not justifiable, would not be worthwhile for other valid reasons, or, if our advice has not been followed.
  • Divulge information about individual traders.
  • Stop a business from trading.

We ask you

  • To use the Citizens Advice Consumer Service for initial advice - freephone number 0808 223 1133.
  • Give us all the facts. Listen to our advice and reasons for a recommended course of action.
  • To accept that we may not always be able to help, for example, if no laws have been contravened, or it would not be worthwhile to pursue the matter further.

You can

  • Ask for an explanation for our action and advice.
  • If you remain dissatisfied with our service, you can raise the issue with one of our senior officers and/or use the county council’s complaints procedure where appropriate.