When did you come to the UK? What have brought you here: personal matters or did you want to spread your wings in business?
Paweł Woźniak: My father Joseph was the first one to come to the Islands, in 2006. His restless soul, creative approach to life and pretty young age brought him to Dunoon in Scotland. As a result of his persuasion, I liquidated my own economic activity in the clothing industry in Poland, and joined him in 2007 as an employee in the fishing industry. My father, a wonderful man, died in 2015 from a severe cancer, in a Scottish hospital. Despite losing my father I decided to live and continue to work in the UK. Earlier, in 2013, with my current fiancee, we founded UK PORT company in the electrotechnical industry. We operated in the LED lighting industry.
How did your business develop? Did you have any problems or only successes?
In 2016 we decided to expand our product range by importing balance scooters. We have imported these toys in the number of 60 units. The goods were imported in "door to door" system. The clearance fee, duty, VAT and delivery had been paid. On the day I expected the delivery I was visited by officials from the Trading Standard Service and informed about the need of notifying them about the receipt of the shipment. I did so, however, it turned out that these officials had arrived with the police assistance and had taken the whole of the UK PORT's imported goods for the Glasgow Scientific Department's safety tests.
After some time I received information from the Trading Standard Service that the goods they had taken over did not pass the safety tests and would be destroyed. It was an entirely new situation for me and for the company, and I didn’t look closer into the subject. I considered their decision irrevocable, but difficult to understand and to accept. I had vast knowledge about other companies in similar industries and I saw on various internet portals that the same merchandise was offered for sale by other – including British – companies in the UK. One of them was E-bay.
I am one of those who, in life or in business, don’t give up easily. I contacted a Polish entrepreneur, the "TDS" Tomasz Bulzacki company. TDS had brought a batch of balance scooters to Poland, in a test number of 30 items. There had been no office- nor customs-related problems, and the goods had been sold on the German and Polish markets. Further talks and trade-business contacts resulted in establishing and founding of the P&D UK-EXPO company in February 2016.
Mr. Paweł, you’re not a novice in the industry and you are familiar with import , export and trade matters. Your company brings electric toys to the UK. You have recently brought a series of sports cars powered with a battery. Why can’t you sell them on the UK market?
In July 2016, the P&D UK-EXPO company received a container of several models of electric toy cars in the number of 197. We were informed by the shipping company about the fact that our transport had been stopped by the Trading Standard Service and after about 36 hours it had been released without reservation.
As experienced entrepreneurs we have both knowledge and experience in introducing goods to the European Union market as importers. We have all the documents and certificates in accordance with European Union directives. The company's merchandise is certified and approved by a globally recognized company: INTERTEK with a UK presence.
In March 2017 we imported a container of toys, holding 265 electric cars inside, from the Chinese manufacturer. The difference was that due to transport costs we had chosen Grangemouth near Edinburgh.
And were your goods taken for inspection then?
Collective consignment number MRKU2443594 has been stopped for inspection and at this point problems for our company began. After a few days Trading Standard Service visited our magazine and asked us to give them 1 item of each model for testing. The results were shocking. We were informed that the adapters did not meet the electrical safety regulations due to too high output voltage compared to the declared. At this point, the company decided to hire a law firm.
Did Trading Standard Service suggest you any idea of solving this issue?
As a solution to this problem they proposed replacing the adapters with new ones of 12V output voltage, and, in addition, getting the manufacturer of these adapters to confirm in writing the compatibility with the cooperating device which is the car. The adapter replacement concerned all the toys, including those that had already been sold.
After many perturbations, as we didn’t agree to replace the adapters, Trading Standard Service set a meeting at their headquarters on September 6 this year. After analyzing the results of the tests carried out, it was found that the tests were conducted incorrectly. They were tested as AC/AC chargers, so as a power supply designed for electronic devices such as cell phones or tablets. After we explained the construction and purpose of the adapter, we suggested repeating the tests. After two weeks we were informed that the adapters had passed the tests.
What was missing in the documentation according to the British? Did they have objections to technical marking?
It has been advised that we improve the intelligibility of the manual, but at the same time no details of the matter have been provided nor pointed out. In addition, it has been recommended to add the company's address on the packaging, and it has been ordered to inspect the size of the pins in all the adapters being sold. Implementing the aforementioned does not constitute any problem for the company.
Don’t you think that Trading Service recommendations could be, in fact, dangerous for the buyers?
If we had complied with the earlier Trading Standard Service recommendations for replacing the adapters with 12V DC output ones, it would have caused a direct threat to the potential user. The adapter used with the car constitutes, according to the manufacturer, a set with the toy being sold, and no – it should not be used in any other way.
In a wide range of devices, many different companies supply power in a safe form this way – below 24V DC. Similarly, the same mistake was made in the case of stopping the toy container (MRKU2443594) by Border Force. Electrical safety tests have also been commissioned at the Glasgow Scientific Department. Negative result. Additionally infringement of intellectual property rights was alleged. In the box of the model labelled HL1535, reportedly, there was a sticker inserted by the manufacturer, with the symbol "BMF" which was associated with the BMW brand.
Did the company give up at this point?
To avoid a potentially long-term dispute we decided to destroy the model HL1535 in the number of 35 units. The problem, despite the involvement of the law firm, has not been resolved to date, nor was the container released.
Do you think that after Brexit British authorities watch Polish people in the UK more closely and meticulously?
Due to the fact about which we informed the Trading Standard Service and Border Force – that the same toy models (as proof we have 1 toy bought on E-bay along with the sales invoice) are offered by English traders (the same box, the same model, the same adapter, the same manufacturer), I think that the course of all the events is not coincidental, and that it is caused by other reasons. I think we are treated worse or at least… differently. Meanwhile, if we start competing with native companies, we are bound to lose by the administrative apparatus.
I think that due to Brexit and the incident that affected my British company, other citizens currently living and working in the UK should invest their savings in the EU.