Used tractor salesman banned after misleading customers
The boss of a second-hand tractor business in the East Riding of Yorkshire has been banned for six years, after breaching agreements to stop publishing misleading adverts.
34-year-old Alan Farrow will be joined on the disqualified directors register by his wife Marina Farrow, also 34, who has been banned for five years.
Husband and wife, both from Shiptonthorpe, saw their disqualifications come into effect on 7 May 2020.
They are now banned from directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company.
Both were directors of East Yorkshire Machinery Limited. Incorporated in October 2013, the company was based in Shiptonthorpe and bought and sold second-hand tractors, agricultural machinery and plant equipment.
Following complaints to Trading Standards, Alan Farrow signed an undertaking in January 2016 agreeing that he would cease publishing sales adverts that were misleading about the condition of tractors and other products.
However, he continued to breach the undertaking and following court action brought against him by Trading Standards, he signed a further agreement in November 2017.
By April 2018, East Yorkshire Machinery was placed into liquidation. A subsequent investigation by the Insolvency Service into the conduct of the couple found several complaints had been made to Trading Standards about the company.
Investigators uncovered that between January 2016 and October 2017, at least 11 customers bought tractors and other goods advertised for sale from East Yorkshire Machinery worth more than £88,000.
East Yorkshire Machinery, however, didn’t supply or deliver the goods and failed to refund several customers.
In one case, a customer only received a refund after they obtained a court judgement against the company.
Further enquiries uncovered that between April 2016 and May 2017, at least seven customers bought goods from the company worth close to £35,000.
However, customers received goods that were either mis-described or not in the same condition as advertised. Three customers managed to secure refunds after obtaining court judgements, while the others remain as creditors in the liquidation.
On 16 April 2020 Alan and Marina Farrow had their disqualification undertakings accepted by the Secretary of State, after husband and wife did not dispute that they had caused or allowed East Yorkshire Machinery Ltd to continue to breach the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations.
John Bryan, senior trading standards officer at East Riding of Yorkshire Council said: “We welcome the news that this couple have been banned from being directors of a company for up to six years as they had been known to trading standards officers for quite a number of years.
“The company and its directors had caused considerable distress to its customers, not just in the East Riding, but across the country for a prolonged period of time and they operated in a manner that was for their own financial and selfish gain.”
Rob Clarke, chief investigator for the Insolvency Service, said: “Alan Farrow was fully aware the company was publishing false adverts that misled customers leading to them buying goods that were either misdescribed and in some cases not even supplied.
“What’s worse is that Alan Farrow had signed an agreement promising the company would stop but continued to do so anyway. He has since gone on to sign a further undertaking in court.
“This is totally inappropriate conduct for company directors and thanks to the joint working with East Yorkshire Trading Standards, Alan and Marina’s bans send a clear message that corporates should comply with legislation which is in place to protect customers who in this case were the real victims.”