Know the lighter side of life

Q I'm told there are new rules about the sale of lighters. Am I likely to be affected?

A New European legislation takes effect on March 11, 2008. From that date all lighters must be child resistant and novelty lighters will be banned.

Christine Heemskerk, of the Trading Standards Institute, says: "The penalties for retailers

who don't fully understand this new legislation are significant - up to a £20,000 fine and/or a prison sentence of two years.

"Our aim is always to support compliant businesses and penalise non-compliant businesses so we will be working with B ic to raise awareness of this new legislation and encourage retailer compliance."

Retailers will be required to keep and to show on request documentation identifying where they obtained their supply of lighters and provide relevant ISO 9994 and Child Resistant certificates.

Peter Travers, UK general manager at B ic, says: "Our aim is to provide retailers with advice and guidance now so that they are well prepared for the new requirements.

"We will shortly be launching a

website and already have a hotline in place where retailers can seek advi ce


ask for relevant literature to be sent to them to help them understand the legislation."

An information leaflet and newsletter

are available to all retailers . Call 01895 827100.

Q A customer found some bottles of Rioja that I had forgotten to price-mark. The wine was not in its correct position on the shelf and the customer insisted I had broken the law by not displaying the price. Is she right?

A The Price Marking Order insists that all goods offered for sale in shops must be priced. But this doesn't necessarily mean a stick-on ticket (increasingly rare in the barcode age). The price can appear on a shelf

or in a price list which is accessible by customers, and must be the final price including VAT.

Window displays are usually exempt from these regulations

if they are serving a purely promotional purpose. But if the display contains bottles that are available for customers to select and buy, the same rules apply.

Q One of my competitors down the road gives the impression that all his beers and wines are available at constant discounts. Is he allowed to promote so much stock as a "sale"?

A The higher price must have been charged in the shop for a minimum of 28 days in the preceding six months. But the retailer may be able to give the impression of big discounts, quite legally, provided he offers a disclaimer. For example, if a wine was in another branch for five days at a higher price, this could be pointed out in the small print on the price ticket. Consumers can then draw their own conclusions.

If you think your competitor is misleading his customers by flouting the regulations, contact your local Trading Standards team.

Q What exactly is "agglomerate cork"?

A It is a cork made of small crumbs of cork bark, glued together. The corks are an efficient way to use up the waste generated by cork manufacturers at a fairly low cost.

Agglomerates are not well loved by some critics, who claim to be able to detect glue-like aromas in some wines. There are also claims that, since agglomerates combine so many different fragments of cork, any one of them could be infected with the TCA compound that creates the infamous musty corkiness and hence the wine stands a greater chance of being ruined.

Unfortunately for retailers and consumers alike, it's not easy to tell what sort of cork the wine is sealed with until the purchase has been made.

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