NCA in 96 legal actions in 2009

PUBS watering down drinks and car dealers clocking vehicles were among the complaints to the National Consumer Agency (NCA) last year.

The NCA issued compliance notices against two bars in Wexford found to be selling drinks where the percentage of alcohol by volume was less than indicated on the bottle. The pubs were Bowes Bar, Kiltealy, and Barrack Street Brewery, Enniscorthy.

The NCA visited five licensed premises last year following complaints about the watering down of drinks, and samples were referred to the state laboratory for analysis.

Its annual report also showed one car dealer was successfully prosecuted last year for offering a clocked car for sale. The agency also initiated proceedings in the Circuit Court against another car dealer and a prohibition order was made against the trader early this year.

Overall the agency took 96 enforcement actions against businesses last year.

NCA chief executive officer Ann Fitzgerald said a robust, risk-based approach to enforcement is a key element of the agency’s commitment to delivering a fair deal for consumers.

“By acting on information we receive through a number of channels, this means that we target the areas where we know there is consumer detriment and use our powers to address unfair commercial practices in the most appropriate and most effective way possible.

“In fact, the majority of cases investigated are resolved without the need to take formal enforcement action but nonetheless, deliver on our goal to create best practice compliance standards and to ensure consumers are treated fairly.”

The enforcement actions included 54 on-the-spot fines to traders, 32 compliance notices, which directed traders to remedy a situation, six prosecutions, three undertakings and one prohibition order.

Three risk-based compliance blitzes were undertaken by the NCA last year, resulting in visits to 424 traders.

The agency also found that two website operators using ‘bait advertising’ agreed to remedy offending advertisements. It also received an undertaking from a furniture retailer to refrain from certain advertising practices and an undertaking from a company to refrain from making claims about the certification of a sewage treatment plant.

The agency’s websites received record traffic in 2009, with over 358,000 visits. However, there was a drop in queries to its helpline. The NCA said this is attributable to the fall in advertising activity.


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