Rogue Fish Sellers in Suffolk
July 21, 2016 1 Comment
Fresh fish delivered direct to your door from the port within a couple of hours? For a fish lover this sounds ideal, and there are many traders who operate this business model with hundreds of satisfied customers.
Unfortunately Trading Standards regularly receive calls from home owners who have been duped or bullied into spending large amounts of money on poor quality and misdescribed fish, sometimes not even fit for consumption.
These traders travel nationally, cold calling consumers’ homes selling the fish. This is often misdescribed, mislabelled or unlabelled, overpriced and sometimes underweight. They are targeting vulnerable consumers and using high pressure sales techniques.
Traders – Sales Techniques
The scam is generally operated by purchasing packs of fish from a wholesale fish merchant and then travelling around the country selling the fish. They usually use Transit-style vans which are not refrigerated.
They arrive in an area and call door to door selling the fish off in as large batches as possible. They tend to target areas with a high population of elderly residents and use intimidating sales techniques. The salesmen show a consumer a small selection of fish, and when they agree to buy some, they go to the van, returning with large amounts of packs of fish and go into the house and start putting it into the freezer. They may charge up to £150 – £200. Elderly consumers have said they handed over payment just to get the trader out of their house.
Cash is the preferred payment method, while if a consumer pays by cheque they may be asked to leave the payee blank.
The fish is often mis-sold as more expensive varieties, underweight and close to the use-by date. It is often sold as fresh and suitable for freezing despite much of the fish being previously frozen.
What to do
If you are approached by a fish seller, a few simple checks should keep you safe from these unscrupulous con-men.
Fish sold from fishmongers is covered by the Fish Labelling (England) Regulations 2013, and must be labelled with the true name of the fish, the production method, the catch area, and treatments and additives that must be declared. There are additional labelling requirements for fish that has been irradiated, previously frozen, smoked and/or contains any genetically modified material.
The fish should also have a weight marking, the unit price per kg and the selling price.
Before you buy:
- Check that the fish is labelled as required
- Is the van refrigerated and marked with the trader’s details?
- Does the trader have a price list of products? – ask for the specific amount you require and do not let them into your house.
- If you are at all uncertain ask for a price list and say you will think about it and telephone if you want to place an order – any reasonable trader will be happy to do this if it leads to regular custom
If any traders are not complying with the above or you have any suspicions report to Trading Standards via the Citizens’ Advice Consumer line on 03454 040506.