Renfrewshire Council

Last reviewed: 17:00, 7 August 2020

Consumer advice and protection during Coronavirus

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General consumer advice

Those looking for general consumer advice should contact Advice Direct Scotland.

When an issue is reported to Advice Direct Scotland every Trading Standards in Scotland has visibility of it enabling patterns and trends to be monitored. This is particularly important given the current situation as it allows Trading Standards to focus their enforcement activities where they are most needed.


Holiday and event cancellations

If you have had a holiday, concert or event cancelled due to Coronavirus, comprehensive advice has been published on the Consumer Advice Scotland website to assist with any queries or issues you may have.


Coronavirus scams

It is always important to be mindful of scams, but it is more important than ever to be alert and vigilant as you may see an increase as the situation around Coronavirus continues.

Try to avoid scams by:

  • Don't click on links and attachments in email and texts unless you're sure of the source
  • Don't give out your personal finance information over the phone
  • Only purchase goods online from trusted retailers

Please report suspected scam activity on the Advice Direct Scotland website or call 0808 800 9060.


Supermarket item limits

Supermarkets and retailers are currently under a great deal of pressure as a result of consumers bulk and panic buying items. Although it can be inconvenient when they limit items, or run out of items, there is no automatic right for you to be provided with these items. There is a more than adequate supply of food and other essential items, provided everyone shops responsibly, so please follow the rules put in place by supermarkets.


Carrier bag charges

For the period of the Coronavirus outbreak, the legislation on the use of carrier bags has been relaxed.  This is to ensure better hygiene - particularly in relation to home deliveries of groceries or takeaway food.


Guidance on inflated sales prices

Currently, the prices of ordinary goods on retail sales are not controlled by law. This means that, provided the price is clearly marked at the point of sale, traders can legally charge any price they wish.  The main exception to this rule is alcohol, which has a minimum unit price in Scotland - but no maximum.

We are aware of instances across Renfrewshire of traders inflating prices on essential items such as hand sanitiser, toilet paper, bread, milk and tinned goods.

Our advice for residents would be to shop elsewhere, if possible, or ask a trusted friend or family member to shop for you. If consumers pay these prices, this practice will continue. Renfrewshire has many local support groups that already provide support and assistance to the most vulnerable in our communities. You can find a full list of local community groups and how they can help people on our Supporting communities page.


Product quality and safety

Since the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak a number of unsafe items have been found on sale, both in stores and online.  If you have any concerns about the safety of a product you have purchased, please stop using it immediately - being particularly careful with items like hand sanitiser and thermometers.

Please take clear photographs of the item you are concerned about and send it to our team at Trading Standards, including details of when and where you purchased the item and, if possible, proof of purchase.

If you are making a purchase, please try and ensure the supplier is based in the UK or EU. This means that your consumer rights on product safety still apply. If the item comes from outwith the EU, these rights do not apply.


Information on fuel prices

The spread of Coronavirus has led to a worldwide reduction in the consumption of oil and in turn a drop in the cost and value of petrol.As the cost to petrol retailers drops, they are encouraged to pass on these savings to the consumer. This has already been implemented in many supermarkets, but some chains or independent stations have still to reflect this change.

We would encourage residents to check the cost of petrol nearby before they leave home if they can. This can be done online or using apps specifically designed for this purpose. 

When you reach your chosen station, please remember social distancing rules, and use gloves when touching the pump. Pay by card if possible, and above all stay safe.


Guidance on which stores should still be trading

The new rules around which stores can and cannot currently trade are complex and likely to change over time. Trading Standards and Environmental Health will be responsible for the enforcement of business closures legislation, along with Police Scotland. 

If there are any businesses currently trading which you don't think are complying the new rules please contact Trading Standards