All West Sussex residents with a consumer-related problem should contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline, which provides free advice on how to resolve a wide range of consumer complaints. Although their advisors will not intervene on your behalf with a trader, they will provide ongoing assistance with a dispute.Contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline (external link)
Be aware that if a civil dispute between you and trader cannot be resolved, you must decide whether you wish to take the matter to the County Court for a judgement to be made.
Before you contact the helpline, you should have a pen and paper ready.
To help the advisor give you the most relevant advice, you should be ready to give them as much information as you can, such as:
- brief details of your problem
- when you paid for the item or the service
- how much you paid
- how you paid for it
- whether you paid for it in a shop or online
- the seller or trader’s name and address
- what you’ve done so far to try to solve the issue
- your reference number (if you’ve already contacted the helpline about the same problem).
If you require face-to-face advice, please contact your local Citizens Advice branch.
If you are unhappy about the way in which their consumer helpline has dealt with a matter you have reported to them directly, you can make a complaint about Citizens Advice.
How the helpline informs us of illegal business activity
If the Citizens Advice consumer helpline receives a consumer complaint and believes a trader is involved in illegal business activity, the advisors will provide you with advice on how to resolve your problem. They will then pass the details of the trader’s illegal activity to the trading standards services where the trader and the consumer are based.
West Sussex Trading Standards will use this information to consider the most appropriate course of action to take against the trader in accordance with our enforcement policy. If we believe a criminal prosecution is a proportionate response, we may contact you to request a statement and your attendance at court as a witness.
If you do not have a consumer-related problem and would like to report illegal business activity in West Sussex, such as the sale of age-restricted products to minors (for example, knives, fireworks, tobacco or alcohol), you can contact the Trading Standards team directly.
If you are unhappy about the way in which Trading Standards has dealt with a matter you have reported to them directly, you can make a complaint to the County Council about Trading Standards.