Firm slapped with £900 bill for hiring out ‘unsafe’ tanning bed

The equipment tested by Sunderland City Council's trading standards.
The equipment tested by Sunderland City Council's trading standards.

A sunbed firm has been fined “in the interest of consumer protection” after being found guilty of misleading customers and hiring out dangerous tanning equipment.

Carlton Leisure has been told to pay a total of £910 in fines and costs after it was convicted following a trial at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court last month, of engaging in an unfair trading practice, and supplying unsafe equipment

The plug of the sunbed hired out by Carlton Leisure.

The plug of the sunbed hired out by Carlton Leisure.

District Judge Roger Elsey who presided over the trial had adjourned the case for former company director Graeme Carlton, 48, to produce financial information to help him determine the level of fine.

The case comes after the Hartlepool-based company, which trades as Rio Sunbed Hire, hired out an “unsafe” sunbed to customer Claire Lewis last year.

Miss Lewis, of Easington Lane, found a cable “smouldering” immediately after turning on the equipment, which she had hired for seven weeks at a cost of £79.

Sunderland Magistrates’ Court heard she also noticed that the invoice had the wording “no refunds” written on it, contrary to consumer-protection laws.

The interest of consumer protection requires me to impose a significant fine

District Judge Roger Elsey

Ms Lewis did eventually receive a full refund, but only after Sunderland City Council’s trading standards got involved.

The unit passed the portable appliance test (Pat), but it failed the visual test, due to the inner cord on a connecting cable being visible.

A functional test also had to be abandoned for safety reasons, because the plugs started to overheat.

A test carried out showed too much power going into the unit. Graeme Carlton said: “The client has had a refund anyway.

The connector of the sunbed which was tested by trading standards chiefs.

The connector of the sunbed which was tested by trading standards chiefs.

“We do give refunds to genuine people.”

Fining Carlton Leisure £300 for each of the two offences, with £1,250 and £60 victim surcharge, Judge Elsey said: “Having looked at the accounts the turnover is in excess of £60,000 a year.

“The gross profit in excess of £50,000.

“I accept that is a gross figure and the are costs involved in running your business.

“I do take account of the fact that the net profit is significantly smaller than these figures. I also take into account the fact that the business has been properly and successfully run in the last 20 years without any convictions.

“Nonetheless, the interest of consumer protection requires me to impose a significant fine.”