The first step should be to take the matter up with the individual or company who placed the "offending" advertisement. You should start by making your complaint in WRITING and setting a realistic date for the dispute to be resolved.

If the advertiser fails to respond or to settle the matter to your satisfaction, you should inform the proper Authorities. Your local Trading Standards Office needs to be made aware of potential rogue traders.

Secondly, you should contact the trade association that the trader belongs to. No responsible trade association can afford to have a rogue element. It could also be argued that a trade association has a duty of care. Its members should be trading in a fair and honest manner. If you took a risk in the first place and dealt with a firm that did not belong to a trade association, all is not lost, your local County Court will be only too pleased to show you how to take an action in the Small Claims Court, although this action should be reserved as a last resort.

The organisation which distributed an offending advertising leaflet or the paper that published an advertisement also have a duty of care. Publishers will argue, quite understandably, that it is not reasonable to vet every advertiser prior to accepting it. However, once the distributor or publisher has been MADE AWARE of the rogue advertising, the situation is completely different. Provided it can be proved that the advertising is misleading, a responsibility clearly exists and the distributor or publisher is expected to exercise a duty of care by refusing to distribute or publish. The sort of proof that is needed, would be a letter from a Trading Standards Officer, supporting your claim that the advertisement is misleading and/or a County Court order proving the point. A distributor or publisher is likely to choose not to risk a hefty liability claim and is more likely to refuse future advertising from the rogue trader.

You may have heard about an organisation calling themselves The Advertising Standards Authority. Go to the next page, there may be a surprise in store.

If you are an advertiser. THINK before you submit your advertisement for publication, is it legal, decent and honest? If in doubt, your local Trading Standards Office will be only too pleased to offer constructive advice.

Before taking up the valuable time of the Trading Standards Office, ask an independent person to examine your advertisement and ask "does it match the offer being made?". For example; if you are selling "caravan holidays at seaside locations", yet the location is actually ten miles from the beach, would the independent person deem the wording of your advertisement as misleading? He may suggest that it would be more appropriate to state the actual distance from the sea, in the advertisement. ALWAYS get someone else to read your advertising copy. One word can quite innocently have a double meaning and you may have missed it.

TRADING STANDARDS telephone no. = CONSUMER DIRECT - 08454 040506

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