A businessman whose firm was once responsible for causing more complaints than any other in Northern Ireland has been handed a fine for unfair trading practices.
In a case brought by Trading Standards, Richard O’Hara – a company director of JRN Retail Group Ltd, which traded as Nigel O’Hara – pleaded guilty to 10 charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court and was fined £1,000.
The court hearing took place on Tuesday.
As well as Mr O’Hara’s own admissions, the firm itself also pleaded guilty to 10 similar charges, and was fined £1,000.
JRN Retail Group Ltd previously operated a jewellers shop in William Street, Portadown, and ceased trading in November 2015 – see this story, where traffic wardens and others were being blamed for the decline in Nigel O’Hara’s fortunes.
It ran an online business which advertised products for sale ranging from jewellery to TVs and shampoo.
The Department for the Economy, responsible for Trading Standards, said in 2013 officials “began to notice an increase in the number of complaints received from consumers about the business”. It added: “Almost all the consumers complained that the business had taken payment but that no goods had been received and they were experiencing great difficulty in getting their money refunded.”
Trading Standards gave the firm advice on how to address the complaints, but this was ignored and “complaints grew at such an alarming rate that between July and September 2014 Nigel O’Hara became the most complained about business to the Trading Standards Service”.
The subsequent investigation found the business had misled consumers about prices, the firm’s ability to supply goods, and more – including “a 100 per cent cash back competition prize, where no winners were selected”.