According to a report by Cymru on October 30th, a British store called Fountain Shop has been fined over £2500 and ordered to pay compensation for illegally selling an e-cigarette to a 16-year-old boy. The store was discovered by the Trading Standards Committee on January 28th this year, when the boy managed to purchase a pink grapefruit-flavored ELFBAR disposable e-cigarette.
Last month, the store admitted in the Merthyr Tydfil Court to violating the 2014 Children and Families Act and the 2015 Nicotine Smoking Products (Age of Sale and Proxy Purchase) Regulations, resulting in a fine of £1,666. They were also ordered to pay legal costs of £490.50 and a victim surcharge of £666.
On October 26, the Licensing Review Committee added new requirements to the license, which include the mandate to keep records of sales refusals and provide training and review sessions for sales to minors. The trade standards application submitted to the committee revealed that the assessment of the license after reaching adulthood found that it only had mandatory conditions and lacked control measures concerning the prevention of sales to minors.
During the recent sales misconduct, one of the two directors of Fountain Shop, Stephen Jones, was on vacation.
The store has approximately 20 employees, including sales agents, supervisors, and management represented by Stephen Jones. The employees do not have a formal training program, and the training records are not maintained. There is no system in place to monitor the training progress. The training provided by Stephen Jones is only in the form of verbal guidance and lacks formal supervision.
The evaluation report on trade standards reveals inconsistencies in employees’ understanding of the store’s policy on age-restricted products, creating significant ambiguity in the sale of such goods. The checkout system relies on the employees’ proactive decision not to make the sale, but the issue lies in the fact that employees can easily bypass this requirement. The policy mandates ID verification before scanning the product, which effectively means that all instances of refusal to sell are not being recorded.
In conclusion, Stephen Jones acknowledged that despite their best efforts with training, instances of mis-selling products can still occur. They have already begun implementing certain recommended measures, including keeping a record of book refusals. He stated, “We are a busy small business, and I cannot dedicate all of my time to training personnel.