Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Two companies convicted for NICEIC logo misuse

The NICEIC has been seeing an increasing number of electricians advertising themselves as being registered with the organisation when they are not. In the latest example of this unfortunate trend, two company officials have been ordered to pay over £30,000 for offences concerning mis-selling the Green Deal scheme, failure to provide the appropriate cancellation rights and misuse of the NICEIC logo.

Pretending to be registered with the NICEIC when not actually so is a serious problem, not least because the NICEIC logo is recognised by the public as a mark of excellence and is used by electrical contractors as a way of promoting the quality of their work.

Any person or company abusing the logo is likely to reduce the public’s trust in it, whilst disadvantaging bona fide NICEIC registered contractors. Fraudulent electricians are also far more likely to produce sub-standard or actively dangerous work.

In this latest case, which concerned NICEIC logo mis-use as well as Green Deal scheme mis-selling and other offences, Abdul Muhith and David N Clarke of Becoming Green (UK) were sentenced in January at Cardiff Crown Court in relation to their guilty pleas under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 Act.

Muhith, who is company director, pleaded guilty to six offences related to misleading consumers. Homeowners were led by him to believe they could obtain home improvements under the Green Deal scheme (https://www.gov.uk/green-deal-energy-saving-measures/overview) for a one-off payment of £299. They were not told that in reality the Green Deal scheme is a loan agreement that is subject to interest payments.

Clarke, head of operations at Becoming Green (UK), pleaded guilty to three offences under the regulations, including misuse of the NICEIC logo.

Abdul Muhith was sentenced to pay £2,500 per offence (totaling £15,000) and ordered to pay a £2,500 contribution towards prosecution costs, along with a further £1,794 in compensation to the victims in the case. A victim surcharge of £15 was also ordered. David N Clarke was sentenced to a fine of £2,500 per offence (totaling £7,500) and ordered to pay a £2,500 contribution towards prosecution costs and £598 compensation to the victims – again; a £15 victim surcharge was added.

This case against was brought by Scambusters, a regional Trading Standards team for Wales, with assistance from the NICEIC. Scambusters aims to help homeowners and the general public to avoid being taken in by dangerous Internet scams, frustrating spam, devious identity theft, and other cunning online and offline scams – such as this ‘Becoming Green UK’ case. Since November 1994, Scambusters says that it has helped over eleven million people protect themselves from scams.

These are not the only recent NICEIC logo misuse examples. In a separate case, a contractor in the North East has been sentenced for unauthorised use of the NICEIC approved contractor logo (as well as two other logos).

Martin Coverdale, trading as Coverdale & Sons Plumbing & Heating, was taken to court over nine separate misuse counts under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations Act. He was sentenced to a community order totaling more than 180 hours at Middlesbrough Crown Court in late January.

These, and other, successful prosecutions help emphasise that those thinking about misusing the NICEIC logo will be caught and dealt with appropriately by the courts. Not only that, but contractors caught falsely claiming to be members will be named and shamed on the NICEIC website and their details passed to Trading Standards.

As NICEIC CEO Emma Clancy commented: “These latest prosecutions show how seriously we take misuse of our logo.

“The NICEIC name is associated with quality and we will work with the appropriate authorities to protect those contractors who are legitimately registered with us and have the quality of their work assessed on a regular basis,” she said.

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