Grimsby Crown Court has ordered PoundWorld to pay £38,000, after it sold remote controls that were completely useless in the UK - and only worked in South East Asia. The chain, which has 200 stores, was selling the £1 remotes between September 2010 and June 2012, leaving buyers confounded.
And it's not the first purchase from a pound shop that has disappointed.
Not remotely usefulThe case was brought by Trading Standards, which found that 20,160 remotes had been shipped from China. The packaging promised that the remotes worked with most TVs, but in fact they didn't work with TVs in the UK at all. One shopper in Scunthorpe complained to Trading Standards, which launched an investigation.
The Daily Mail reported that the investigation revealed the supplier had accidentally shipped PoundWorld's order elsewhere and they had ended up with remotes configured for the wrong market.
North Lincolnshire Council reported that judge as saying that "statements on the packaging were misleading" and "the company fell well short of what reasonable consumers would expect" - although he made it clear that this was a mistake rather than a deliberate attempt to fool shoppers. The council said that the chain had been fined £13,333. It will also have £20,160 proceeds from sales confiscated, and will have to pay £5,000 costs.
Chris Edwards Junior, trading director at Poundworld, told the Scunthorpe Telegraph: "There was a manufacturer fault with a batch of remote controls that were on sale in selected stores back in 2011. As soon as the fault was identified, these were taken off sale and the small number of complaints that we received were investigated and resolved. We'd like to apologise to any of our customers that were affected by the problem."
DisappointingHowever, this isn't the first time that products from a pound shop have disappointed. There are the goods which have proven faulty. Back in 2010 PoundWorld was fined £5,000 for selling faulty digital thermometers. At the time, it was highlighted that just a small difference in temperature could have put young people at real risk.
There are goods which have been sold in a shocking condition. In June last year a Poundland store in Croydon south London was fined £24,000 after it emerged that mice had chewed their way into packets of biscuits, and that staff had taped over the holes and put the biscuits on sale.
Then there are those products which may not quite be what they seem. In order to keep prices at £1, pound stores have arrangements with some suppliers to produce products in smaller sizes. Poundland, for example, sells Toblerones which have one triangle fewer than elsewhere, and Warburton loaves of bread in Poundland are 600g rather than the 800g standard - to keep the product at £1.
This is something that the pound shops are perfectly open about, and it is done because that's the way the model works: otherwise it just wouldn't be able to sell the products. However, the issue comes when shoppers are making price comparisons and don't realise they are comparing products of different size.
But what do you think? Are you happy with the things you buy in pound stores? Do you get your £1's worth?