News : Boss of Former Call Centre Avoids Jail After ‘Dodgy, Sharp Practice'
Swansea, Wales, April 8, 2016 -- The boss of a former Swansea call centre has narrowly avoided jail after his staff bombarded people with 'cold calls' sometimes pretending to be working for the Government.
Clive Davies, 41, of Bryntirion Hill, Bridgend , who was the director of Residential Redress Ltd based in Wind Street, Swansea, pleaded guilty to breaches of the 2008 Consumer Protection Against Unfair Trading Regulations.
Lee Reynolds, prosecuting at Swansea Crown Court , said people called by Residential Redress were offered 'home audits' for up to £299 each to help reduce household bills and it also offered to help with possible PPI claims and claims against water companies.
But he said the firm which offered to reduce utility bills often had no grounds for telling customers their bills would be cut.
He added callers from the firm would sometimes falsely claim to be working for the Government.
He said one customer, a 76-year-old woman, was told she cold get 90% taken off her £1,290 gas bill and paid a fee of £290 but the prosecutor said there was no way the company could have known the bill could have been reduced.
Mr Reynolds said another elderly customer said "I gave in" and handed over her bank details for an audit to be done.
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Stephen Rees, for Residential Redress Ltd and its director, said there was no fraud involved and added what had gone on amounted to "overzealous selling".
Mr Rees said Davies claimed to have sacked 20 of his staff for giving customers misleading information.
But Judge Paul Thomas QC, sentencing Davies to 24 weeks in jail suspended for two years said: "What went on amounted to dodgy, sharp practice".
Davies was also barred from being a director or being involved in the formation, promotion or management of a company for six years and was also given 200 hours unpaid work.
The court heard Davies had previous convictions for dishonesty including fraud "involving the sale of photocopiers in West Wales".
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'Wholly unfair to customers'
Mr Reynolds said around 20 complaints were looked at by Swansea Trading Standards officers who investigated the actions of the firm and he said around six customers remained without compensation, the total loss to them amounting to around £1,700.
Judge Thomas told Davies: "You and your company engaged in commercial practice that was wholly unfair to customers.
"I say customers, they were people like the rest of us imposed upon in their own homes by cold calls made by unscrupulous businesses.
"In my view you were cavalier to put it at its most favourable in the running of your business.
"The general ethos was to persuade people to hand over money they would not otherwise have done."
Shortly before passing sentence, Judge Thomas learned Davies was involved in another call centre company which sold 'home audits' but he was told by Davies he had now withdrawn from the firm.
The judge said call centres were not the right environment for Davies, saying "Kids in sweetshops are brought to mind."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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