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Witnesses praised for courage in Shropshire trading standards case

By Dominic Robertson | Shifnal | Crime | Published: | Last Updated:

Witnesses have been praised for their efforts in helping to bring a chair salesman to justice.

Steven Sloan was fined at Shrewsbury Crown Court

Steven Sloan was fined at Shrewsbury Crown Court after it heard he had pressurised vulnerable customers into buying armchairs.

In one case he spent three hours at the home of one elderly couple in Priorslee, and refused to take a deposit until, when tired, they had agreed to order two chairs from him at a total cost of £4,987.

In another case, Sloan, 50, of Hunts Road, Stratford-Upon-Avon, applied pressure to a 75-year-old lady from Shifnal to sign an order there-and-then during his visit.

He had made her believe that if she were to pause and wait until she could speak with her son about it, she would lose a discount he claimed she was getting, and would have to pay an additional £350 to cover a second visit.

She had hoped to buy a chair for £695 but was persuaded to order one that would cost £2,750, paying a £1,375 deposit.

Sloan, the director of Coventry based Recline Limited, pleaded guilty to four offences under The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, after the case initially went to trial.

He was ordered to pay almost £18,000, including a £6,500 fine, costs of £7,500, and compensation to victims of £3,875.

Speaking after the case, Grant Tunnadine, investigations team manager, praised those who had stood up in court to give evidence.

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He said: “This case highlights the importance of not being rushed when making any sort of purchase that is out of the ordinary and costly.

"Whilst there are, in general, rights that provide cancellation periods for contracts formed in our homes, there are some exemptions that apply; one of those is for items that traders will describe as ‘bespoke’.

"There is an entire sales industry formed around exploiting that exemption involving furniture like this, and it is not at all easy to discern and then prove whether the goods being ordered are genuinely unique. Consumers should take great care when allowing people into their homes to discuss major purchases.

Supportive

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"I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the witnesses who helped officers bring this case to court; they have remained both patient and supportive throughout the investigation and deserve full recognition for the very important role they have played.

"I very much welcome the sentence and hope Mr Sloan now understands the impact that his unfair sales practices had on his victims.

"Cases like this are not only about financial loss but also the significant psychological impact that such illegal practices have on victims. Should Mr Sloan return to selling consumer products in the future, I sincerely hope he does so within the law.

"The outcome of this case sends a clear warning to others. The trading standards service will take action to tackle those individuals who take advantage of vulnerable members of the community and individuals involved can expect to find themselves under investigation, before the courts and with criminal convictions.”

Frances Darling, Shropshire Council's trading standards and licensing manager, added: "It is very sad to hear of cases like this where an individual clearly intends to target vulnerable members of our community for their own financial gain.

"One of the council’s key priorities is to ensure care for those in need at any age. Such care is delivered in many different ways, not only through the direct care provided by adult social care services, but also by taking a much broader approach.

"The work of the trading standards team is a key part of the council’s efforts to protect vulnerable members of the community, and this case is a clear example of the way in which a very small team has taken action to ensure those in need are cared for by tackling unfair trading practices.

"This investigative work also protects legitimate businesses and helps the council to ensure businesses grow and succeed, and this can only be good news for our local economy.”

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