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Trusted Trader for consumers

Information for consumers

A guide to trading fairly

The following may provide examples of the general standard of fair and honest trading trader businesses are required to meet in accordance with their duties and obligations under the Trusted Trader Scheme:

  • All advertisements that are produced in connection with the trader's business must comply with all advertising legislation.
  • Where appropriate, in advance of any contract being entered into with a consumer the trader shall provide in writing full, clear and accurate information regarding key terms and conditions of the proposed contract.
  • Traders must comply with all applicable legislation.
  • When additional guarantees or warranties are offered to consumers, it will be made clear that these are in addition to consumers' statutory rights and are optional. Details will be provided to consumers of the party that is responsible for the guarantee or warranty. There must be no high pressure selling of additional guarantees or warranties. Upon request, written details of any free guarantee will be provided to the consumers.
  • Member traders shall give clear information regarding cancellation rights that customers may have, whether these are statutory or additional rights.
  • Member traders must be committed to providing a quality service to their customers. By joining the Trusted Trader Scheme, traders are agreeing to fully comply with the criminal and civil law.
  • Member traders shall respond to consumer enquiries promptly, even in cases where they are unable to take on work.
  • Member traders must not seek to take advantage of vulnerable consumers and where it is reasonably practicable; trader businesses shall offer additional assistance to consumers to ensure that all aspects of the transaction are fully understood.
  • In the event of a complaint, member traders should fully co-operate with any appropriate intermediary acting for the consumer.
  • Completion and delivery dates shall be agreed in advance. Where a delay has proved unavoidable, the consumer shall be given as much notice as possible. Where an agreed delivery date cannot be met then a suitable alternative or appropriate remedy shall be offered to the consumer.

Subcontracting

Where a member trader subcontracts all or part of any work, then the member must make the subcontractor aware of obligations under the trusted trader terms and conditions, and must guarantee for the consumer that the work of the subcontractor shall be of the same standard as that of the member trader. Members must take full responsibility for subcontractors work.

Code of practice

 

Traders shall agree to trade fairly and in accordance with the law and good business practice.

Member traders of the Trusted Trader Scheme shall:

  1. Provide the Council with full details of ownership, trading names, premises, staffing levels and trade activities.
  2. Inform the Council of any significant changes to the above within 14 working days of the change.
  3. Ensure that all employees and subcontractors are made aware of the Trusted Trader Scheme and agree to act in accordance with the member trader's obligations under the same.
  4. Agree to use the Referenceline feedback system and collect feedback by offering questionnaires (including electronic versions) to all customers and actively encourage their use. Member traders without feedback in the previous six months will be contacted and advised appropriately. A further period of three months without feedback may result in membership termination.
  5. Agree to abide by the terms and conditions of the Trusted Trader Scheme. Failure to do so will invoke the membership review procedure, appended to these terms and conditions.
  6. Adequately train their staff for the work they carry out and keep appropriate training records. These should be available for Council officers to view upon reasonable request being given.
  7. Maintain and publicise any registration which is required by law (e.g. Gas Safe Register ).
  8. Deal with complaints promptly, effectively and in accordance with the Dispute Resolution Process set out in these terms and conditions.
  9. If a business is a member of a trade association which has its own code of practice, the terms of that code and any arbitration processes will be followed at all times.
  10. Provide customers, where appropriate, with a written schedule of works and written quotation before any work commences. Any change made to this schedule shall be communicated to the consumer before any further work is carried out. Any call out charges must be notified in advance to the consumer.
  11. Give customers an invoice or receipt showing full details of work carried out, itemising where parts have been supplied, materials used, and labour and other costs.
  12. Where appropriate, make available any parts that have been replaced for consumers on request. Not use second hand or reconditioned parts unless agreed by the consumer prior to the work commencing.
  13. Include VAT in all prices including advertised prices, and where surcharges apply, comply with the relevant consumer protection legislation.
  14. Not seek customers by cold calling in person at their homes.
  15. Adhere to Telephone Preference Service requirements when cold calling prospective customers by telephone.
  16. Have and maintain adequate public liability insurance.
  17. Co-operate fully with the Council during the course of the member trader's activities, and make business records available to the Council for inspection.

Trading Standards commitment

The South Ayrshire Council commitment.

The council shall use its reasonable endeavours to:

  1. Provide fair and impartial service for both traders and consumers.
  2. Ensure that it acts in compliance with consumer protection legislation and agree to carry out any investigations promptly and fairly.
  3. Provide advice on both civil and consumer protection legislation upon request by either party.
  4. Assist with staff training for traders where possible.
  5. Provide an officer who will act as a point of contract for the business in any dispute and for the provision of advice and assistance.
  6. Provide appropriate advice to the consumer following a complaint to the service. Where the complaint cannot be resolved, either party can invoke the dispute resolution process.
  7. Provide a level of promotion of the scheme and its members which the council considers is appropriate.
  8. Reserve the right to revoke membership of the scheme where traders pursue a course of business conduct detrimental to consumer's interests, or in conflict with these terms.
  9. Provide a comprehensive feedback system through Referenceline that is accessible for both traders and customers.

Dispute resolution

Unless the member trader is a member of a trade association with its own code of practice and alternative dispute resolution process, in which case complaints may be referred and dealt with in accordance with that code of practice and alternative dispute resolution process, the following dispute resolution procedure will apply in respect of disputes arising between the consumer and member trader.

  1. Initially consumers and traders should try to resolve complaints through discussion. Details of a complaint or any matter in dispute should be made in writing to the other party and where appropriate a meeting should be convened between the consumer and member trader within five working days to discuss and try to resolve the complaint or any matter in dispute.
  2. If the complaint or matter in dispute remains unresolved, either party may contact the council Trading Standards with details of the matter.
  3. The council will acknowledge receipt of the complaint or matter in dispute to both parties within three working days of being notified.
  4. The council Trading Standards will consider the complaint and mediate between both parties to attempt to resolve any issues as quickly as practicable. Member traders must agree to communicate fully with the council's Trading Standards staff throughout the process of dealing with any dispute.
  5. If at any time, both parties agree that the consultation of an independent expert is required (for example, for inspections or testing), both parties shall be required to give written agreement to the expert's terms of reference prior to any such expert being instructed. This shall include the parties mutually agreeing suitable arrangements for the payment of expert fees and expenses.
  6. Member traders must keep records of any complaint or disputes for a minimum of one calendar year.
  7. Where a trader member is not part of a trade association with its own alternative dispute resolution and a dispute between the trader member and a consumer cannot be resolved by the above process, the dispute can be referred to Ombudsman Services at the discretion of South Ayrshire Council. Ombudsman Services provide an independent, impartial, and cost effective means to resolve disputes out with the courts
  8. Disputes which are referred to Ombudsman Services will be dealt with according to their procedures. More information can be found at www.ombudsman-services.org
  9. The fees for referral of any dispute to Ombudsman Services will be met by the trader member.
  10. This procedure shall not affect the right of either the member trader or the consumer to seek appropriate resolution by means of civil remedy.

Limitations of the scheme

The scheme is meant to help choose a tradesman depending on the opinion of their previous customers. Trading standards have vetted the tradesmen before joining the scheme, but they cannot guarantee the financial standing of the tradesman nor their health and safety procedures. Trading Standards cannot guarantee that the work will never give rise to a complaint. However, in the event of a dispute between a customer and a member of the Trusted Trader scheme, the dispute will be dealt with fairly and in accordance with the dispute resolution process.

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