25 Jul 2019

Fraudulent appliance trader handed suspended sentence

Guilty plea after Trading Standards investigation

A Bristol man who sold faulty washing machines and tumble dryers to city customers has been handed a suspended prison sentence at Bristol Crown Court after pleading guilty to fraud.

Christopher Robbins, of Knowle, was sentenced to two concurrent terms of six months imprisonment - suspended for two years - electronically tagged under a night time curfew for six months and disqualified from being director for seven years, after admitting to three offences of fraudulent trading for selling appliances that did not match their description, were faulty or were not working at all.

Robbins, who traded under names including Warranties Direct, Bristol Appliance Recycling and Affordable Appliances was also handed a five-year Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) and disqualified from driving for two years following the case brought by Bristol City Council Trading Standards officers.

They were initially alerted to businesses run by Robbins, 57, in January 2010 following complaints from customers, many of whom said they had been sold unsatisfactory washing machines and tumble dryers.

Officers also heard from customers who had been threatened with legal action after complaining about faulty appliances they had purchased from Robbins via social media. Despite being given a warranty, Robbins was elusive and uncooperative when the appliances broke down and threatened them with legal action.

The Trading Standards investigation also revealed evidence of the use of false names and addresses, with Robbins, who had previously been convicted of theft and fraud by false representation in 2017, falsely claiming that the goods were supplied by a third party.

Councillor Steve Pearce, the Cabinet member for Waste, Regulatory Services and Commercialisation, said “Following our initial investigation, we obtained a court order that prevented Robbins and anyone working with him, from miss-describing appliances or selling appliances that were not of satisfactory quality.

“Despite this, Robbins carried on selling those appliances and Trading Standards had to take strong and robust enforcement action in the Crown Court to stop his behaviour.

“This investigation has been extremely testing for consumers, most of whom are still out of pocket. It has been a long investigation and we can now take some comfort from the fact that Robbins has been brought to justice."