CITY of York Trading Standards is currently dealing with a number of complaints from consumers who have paid by cheque for goods - typically from Internet auctions, and mail order sites - only to find that goods never arrive or the company has gone out of business, disappeared, or is overseas.

Trading Standards is keen to remind readers that, had such payments been made by credit card, it is likely that the unfortunate buyers would not have lost their money.

This is because, in certain circumstances, under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, the credit company may be equally responsible for any breach of contract or misrepresentation by the supplier.

Providing four conditions are met you will not lose your money if you pay by credit card and you don't receive the goods or the company you are dealing with ceases to trade.

- The cash price of the item being supplied must be more than £100 but not more than £30,000.

- The agreement must be "regulated", ie not more than £25,000 of credit must be involved.

- The creditor is in the business of granting credit and the credit agreement is made in the course of that business - loans to friends are not covered.

- The credit is advanced under an arrangement between the credit grantor and the supplier (eg between a retailer and a credit card company). Remember the protection does not apply to debit cards or if you arrange to get credit independently (eg a loan from your bank). Charge cards which require the monthly balance to be settled in full such as American Express and Diners Club are also not covered by Section 75. It is also worth noting that credit card companies have not generally accepted that they have equal liability for faulty goods over £100 if the goods were bought overseas.However, the Office of Fair Trading has persuaded some credit card companies to honour valid claims for all purchases made overseas.

For further details and information on this or any other consumer matter please contact us at 9 St Leonard's Place, York or telephone 01904 551562, email, fax 01904 551590. Complaints can be made online at

Updated: 10:45 Thursday, March 20, 2003