Three company directors have been found guilty of fraud and sentenced to a total of 51 months in prison following a successful prosecution by Derbyshire County Council’s trading standards.
The case against Nicholas Garbett, Richard Commons and Craig Flint concerned two companies, TDM (Midlands) Ltd, (TDM) and Independent Dyson Service Team Ltd (IDST).
Both companies were involved in the servicing and repair of Dyson vacuum cleaners, and each of the three men were linked to both companies.
The two companies were closely related and carried out their business activities in exactly the same way. This involved cold-calling consumers to offer a cut-price service to their Dyson vacuum cleaner. Consumers’ telephone numbers were obtained from photocopied BT directories.
Derbyshire County Council trading standards became concerned about TDM in 2015 and despite advice and visits to the company, complaints continued.
Further complaints were also made against IDST when that company started trading in August 2016.
On March 22 at Derby Crown Court, Garbett was sentenced to a total of 30 months in prison and disqualified from being a company director for nine years; Flint was sentenced to a total of 21 months in prison and disqualified from being a director for seven years. Commons was sentenced eight months in prison suspended for 18 months, and is disqualified from being a director for five years.
As well as a charge of fraudulent trading, Garbett faced 12 charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, and was held to be responsible for TDM taking advance payments for replacement Dyson parts but not delivering them.
Flint’s charges include one for fraudulent trading, nine relating to offences under the Fraud Act 2006 and two further charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.
In eight instances Flint took two identical payments from consumers using a hand-held card reading device. He told them that the first transaction had not gone through and asked them to put their PIN in again. In fact, the first payments were successful and went to TDM’s account. The second payment went to Flint’s personal account.
Flint also took a payment from a customer for £149.99 when it should have been £14.99, took payments for replacement parts and took customers’ vacuum cleaners away to repair but didn’t carry out repairs or return the cleaners.
Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Communities Councillor Carol Hart said: “These three men set out to deliberately defraud customers and we welcome the sentences given by the court.
“Cold-calling people and promising services and then letting them down and leaving them out of pocket is despicable and our trading standards officers will always pursue fraudsters like this.
“The sentences send out a strong message to others who may be operating like this that we will not tolerate it, and I hope it sends out a reassuring message to our residents that we do follow up and investigate reports when they tell us companies or individuals are operating in this way.”