Pressurising vulnerable consumers and demanding payment for excessive and unwanted quantities of fish were just some of the tactics used by a door-to-door fish-selling company whose owner has been sentenced to 12 months behind bars today.
The sentence – handed down at Teesside Crown Court – follows an earlier hearing which took place in March where Peter Carroll pleaded guilty to engaging in a commercial practice which contravened the requirements of professional diligence.
Between May 2016 and March 2017, Mr Carroll (aged 51 of Chester-le-Street) operated a door-to-door fish selling business, known under various different names including P Carroll’s Fisheries, P Carroll’s Fishers and Pete’s Plaice. In September 2016, West Yorkshire Police began investigating Carroll and in August 2017, the case was transferred to the National Trading Standards Regional Investigations Team (North East).
Carroll’s strategy to drive fish sales was to target elderly and vulnerable consumers, many of whom live alone with serious health conditions. His sales team applied intimidating sales techniques, preying on victims in their own homes to make them uncomfortable. If a consumer showed interest in making a purchase, Carroll and his workers would:
- Charge exorbitant prices that were much higher than consumers had expected to pay; one woman was charged £204 for her order, much more than the £30 she had agreed to pay;
- Supply significantly more fish than the customer had ordered; one customer reported receiving £720 worth of fish with a use by date of two days later;
- Place fish in customers’ freezers without giving them the opportunity to inspect it;
- Supply poor quality fish.
In total, between May 2016 and March 2017 it is estimated that Carroll’s business transactions led to a direct financial detriment of £35,000.
Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards said:
“The pressurising and intimidating sales techniques used in this case took place in people’s own homes, with many victims living in vulnerable situations and requiring daily care. The business profited illegally while victims have been left emotionally scarred and out of pocket.
“If you believe you, or someone you know, has fallen victim to a fraud like this you should report it to the Citizens Advice consumer service helpline by calling 03454 04 05 06.”
Notes to Editors
About National Trading Standards
- National Trading Standards provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally
- The National Trading Standards Board is a group of senior and experienced local government heads of trading standards, representing all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board has been set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards.
- National Trading Standards teams are based within local authority trading standards services
- For more information please visit www.nationaltradingstandards.uk