'Nasty things happen to good people' – what trading standards told con victims Michelle and Mike Williams from Bristol
A COUPLE who contacted Bristol's trading standards for help were furious when they were patronised and told it was better to "realise that nasty things happen to good people".
Mike and Michelle Williams from Stockwood contacted the watchdog after a company failed to deliver on its promise of delivering a van for Mr Williams' stag do to Cornwall.
The ensuing argument saw the couple, who were planning a wedding, lose their £165 deposit.
Infuriated they contacted trading standards but said they were stunned by the apathy and lack of interest in their case – as well as the patronising tone in which they were addressed.
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The couple say they were told in emails, which The Post has seen, by a trading standards adviser:
â Sometimes people break the law
â To realise that nasty things happen to good people and whatever your legal entitlement you will not get it.
â You could go to Edinburgh to check (where the company claims to be listed – 380 miles from Stockwood).
Bristol City Council said the trading standards employee had made "all possible enquiries" but conceded "the tone of the final emails should have been different".
Mrs Williams, 29, who works in digital marketing, said: "I found it all so patronising. She was just so apathetic despite me being so desperate to get help.
"When trading standards wrote to the company it came back addressee unknown.
"I said surely they should check up on it but she just suggested we drive to Edinburgh to find out.
"This is someone who has to deal with people in real difficulties – who have lost thousands and have suffered real heartache but she was so rude.
"This was £165 that we lost when we were trying to save hard for a wedding and I thought trading standards were there to help not patronise. I just feel they could have done more for us than send a letter and when that does not produce a result say there was nothing more they could do."
A statement from the council said: "These emails follow painstaking work carried out by the consumer advice officer and a large amount of correspondence.
"Unfortunately, the complaint about the van hire is a civil matter and as a result, in order for the consumer to obtain redress, they may have to apply to the Small Claims Court.
"Trading standards can provide advice and guidance on civil matters and the small claims procedure but cannot compel the company to redress consumers for a civil breach of contract. The adviser has made all possible enquiries in this instance but unfortunately to no avail.
"We understand the frustration the consumer may feel about this matter. However the adviser has done all she reasonably can to support the consumer.
"Perhaps the tone of the final emails should have been different but it reflects her wish for them to understand the limitations of actions that can be taken.
"Bristol trading standards advises consumers to shop around and get quotes from a number of companies before hiring a car or van and ensure that you know who the company is and where they are based.
"It is always best to confirm all details of the rental agreement in writing before you book."