Firm fined for selling items with incorrect packaging

Poundstretcher, North Shields.
Poundstretcher, North Shields.

A BOROUGH store has been fined £14,000 after wrongly describing the wattage of vacuum cleaners.

Poundstretcher, and the buying arm of the firm, Crown Crest Ltd, were both prosecuted by North Tyneside Council after concerns were raised about a product.

North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard on Friday how a 1200 watt Hyundai vacuum cleaner was bought at the North Shields store in November for £19.99.

But when the customer plugged the machine in, she noticed smoke coming out of it, and then flames.

Peter Rowbottom, prosecuting on behalf of the council, said: “A Trading Standards enforcement officer examined the vacuum and noticed that part of its casing had melted.

“Further test purchases were made and the items were sent for electrical screen testing to assess their safety.

“Both vacuums were found to contain motors labelled as being 1000 watts as opposed to the 1200 watts as marked on their packaging and identification plates.”

Three 1400 watt vacuum cleaners were seized from the North Shields store, and a further nine from the Whitley Bay store.

Tests confirmed the 1200 watt cleaners were fitted with 1000 watt motors, and the 1400 watt machines had 1200 watt motors.

Crown Crest Ltd and Poundstretcher both pleaded guilty to two charges each of supplying an item which stated false information.

In mitigation, Robert Brackup said: “This is not a safety offence, it is a misdescription offence, and it is important to make that distinction.

“107,000 of these units have been sold but there have been no other complaints.

“Crown Crest buy products from the Far East in huge quantities.

“We are sometimes finding that the first run conforms and then after that initial run, it seems that some suppliers are packaging goods in a misleading fashion.

“This is not a case of a company putting profit before consumers, it is quite the contrary.”

Magistrates fined Crown Crest Ltd and Poundstretcher £7,000 each, with a £15 surcharge.

They were also ordered to each pay costs of £760.