Trusted Trader for businesses
Benefits to your business
- South Ayrshire Council will promote the scheme to local consumers through the council's website, social media, local press and other forms of promotions.
- When you join, Trading Standards will provide you with marketing materials that you can use at your premises and on vehicles, stationery, and website to show potential customers that you are a member of the Trusted Trader scheme.
- Being a member of the Scheme is a good way of showing potential customers that you are a reliable business that made a commitment to treat customers fairly.
- You will have access to South Ayrshire Council's Trading Standards expertise to help you understand and comply with consumer protection legislation.
Join the Trusted Trader scheme
The scheme is primarily aimed at the home improvement sector. Businesses must be based in South Ayrshire or must be able to show that a reasonable proportion of their business is carried out in South Ayrshire.
For more information please watch this video
How much will it cost?
The annual fee is £100 to non VAT registered businesses or £200 to businesses that are VAT registered. All fee revenues will go to help cover costs of operating the scheme, such as maintaining the online database and feedback system, ongoing advertising and promotion to the public.
How to join
The easiest way to apply to join the Trusted Traders scheme is to apply online.
A guide to trading fairly
Without prejudice to clause 3 herein, 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.
Where a member trader subcontracts all or part of any work, then the member must make the subcontractor aware of obligations under these 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.
Trading Standards commitment
The South Ayrshire Council Trading Standards commitment.
We will use reasonable endeavours to:
- Provide fair and impartial service for both traders and consumers.
- Ensure that it acts in compliance with consumer protection legislation and agree to carry out any investigations promptly and fairly.
- Provide advice on both civil and consumer protection legislation upon request by either party.
- Assist with staff training for traders where possible.
- 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.
- 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.
- Provide a level of promotion of the scheme and its members which the Council considers is appropriate.
- Conduct regular reviews of the scheme and of these terms and conditions. The council reserves the right to change terms and conditions where appropriate.
- 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.
- Reserve the right to publicise the removal of traders from the scheme where appropriate.
- Provide a comprehensive feedback system through Referenceline that is accessible for both traders and customers.
- Process members' data in accordance with the Data Protection Act.
For more information, contact us at:
South Ayrshire Council Trusted Trader Scheme,
Trading Standards Service,
5 - 7 River Terrace, Ayr KA8 0BJ
Tel: 0300 123 0900
Any decision to either refuse or revoke membership by the Council will be communicated in writing to the business concerned. If an applicant is refused access to the scheme or a current member has had their membership revoked, they can request a review of the decision. The following is the procedure to request a review:
The applicant should write to:
Head of Regulatory Services, South Ayrshire Council, County Buildings, Wellington Square, Ayr
- Requests for reviews must be received in writing within 28 days of membership being refused or revoked.
- Reviews will normally be conducted in writing but may in some cases be conducted by way of a personal hearing.
- Any costs incurred by the applicant throughout the review process will be borne solely by the applicant.
- The decision of the Head of Regulatory Services (or in their absence the Service Manager) will be binding on all parties concerned, and the findings will be communicated to the applicant in writing within 10 working days of the review.
Information on how the scheme will be promoted.
The words 'Trading Standards Approved', 'Recommended' or any other similar terms must not be used with any reference to membership of the scheme or in conjunction with the logo.
Membership of the Scheme must not be promoted until membership is confirmed. On becoming a full member of the Scheme, businesses will be issued with:
- A membership certificate to display on their business premises.
- An electronic copy of the Scheme logo.
- Appropriate advertising materials as are available.
If a member leaves the Scheme or membership is revoked, the use of the logo will cease immediately; all advertising and business documentation must be modified within 14 days of membership ending. Continued use of the logo, any other indication of membership, or any false claims in respect of membership of this Scheme, may constitute an offence and the Council will consider formal enforcement actions on such occasions.
The words 'Trusted Trader' and the handshake logo is a registered UK Trademark.
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:
- Provide the Council with full details of ownership, trading names, premises, staffing levels and trade activities.
- Inform the Council of any significant changes to the above within 14 working days of the change.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pay their annual membership fee within 28 days of the due date (1st April), otherwise membership will be revoked.
- 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.
- Maintain and publicise any registration which is required by law (e.g. Gas Safe Register ).
- Deal with complaints promptly, effectively and in accordance with the Dispute Resolution Process set out in these terms and conditions.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Include VAT in all prices including advertised prices, and where surcharges apply, comply with the relevant consumer protection legislation.
- Not seek customers by cold calling in person at their homes.
- Adhere to Telephone Preference Service requirements when cold calling prospective customers by telephone.
- Have and maintain adequate public liability insurance.
- 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.
- Failure to comply with any of the above terms may result in an investigation by the Council and potential termination of membership to the Trusted Trader Scheme.
Dispute resolution process
If a consumer is unhappy with any work carried out by a member of the Scheme, the trader must agree to comply with the dispute resolution procedure detailed below. However, if the trader is a member of another Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service through a Trade Association or other body, complaints may be referred to that service for independent adjudication and the Trusted Trader Dispute Resolution Process will not be invoked.
South Ayrshire Council is using the facilities of Kent County Council Trading Standards (The "ADR entity") to handle any disputes between Trusted Trader members and consumers, where these cannot be resolved at an early stage. Members are subject to the procedure and requirements of ADR, which can be found at www.kent.gov.uk/disputeresolution. Referral of any dispute to the ADR entity is at the discretion of South Ayrshire Council.
- 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
- If the complaint or matter in dispute remains unresolved, either party may contact the Council Trading Standards with details of the matter.
- The Council will not accept a dispute for resolution which has already been referred to the courts or to another accredited ADR provider. The Council will acknowledge receipt of the complaint or matter in dispute to both parties within three working days.
- 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.
- Any dispute which cannot be resolved by informal means will be referred back to the trader, who will send a final deadlock letter, setting out their position and any final offer. At this point, the consumer may accept the final offer or take the case to the ADR entity, details of which will be in the letter, or take action through the civil courts.
- Trading Standards will review any cases that are referred to ADR to ensure suitability, that the complaints process has been followed correctly and confirm informal mediation has been exhausted.
- Members agree to handle disputes through the Trusted Trader ADR entity and will cooperate with the ADR process.
- Disputes which are referred to the ADR entity will be dealt with according to their procedures. More information can be found at www.kent.gov.uk/disputeresolution
- Both parties involved in the dispute and Trading Standards will receive a copy of the ADR decision.
- Decisions of the ADR entity are binding on members. Consumers are not bound by the decisions of the ADR entity.
- If at any time, the consultation of an independent expert is required, for example for inspection or testing, agreement will be sought from both parties about the arrangement of such a consultation including payment.
- In the event that a member has their membership suspended or terminated; or it lapses; or the member resigns, membership of the Trusted Trader scheme shall in fact not cease until such time that the ADR process is completed, which shall be no more than 12 months from the date of referral to the ADR entity.
The annual fee is £100 to non VAT registered businesses or £200 to businesses that are VAT registered.
Trusted Trader membership fees are payable, on a pro rata basis, at the time of the initial acceptance on to the Scheme. Thereafter annual fees are payable from the 1st of April each year.
These fees are revised annually and can be viewed at South Ayrshire Council, Trading Standards, 5-7 River Terrace, Ayr or by contacting the Council's Trading Standards on 01292 616060.
Prices include website entry and data processing for the first 50 feedback forms received per annum. Members may have to pay processing charges for additional forms that are returned for processing.
Use of Reference line mobile device applications is included in the membership fee.
Access to the Trusted Trader website is free to consumers.
Where membership is revoked, or a member withdraws from the scheme there will be no refund of any membership fees paid or reimbursement of costs incurred by the business as a result of removal or withdrawal from the scheme.
Terms and conditions
Please read through the Trusted Trader terms and conditions (PDF) [880KB] where you will find further information on the scheme including the council's commitment, business code of practice and a guide to trading fairly.
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.
Trader members of the scheme agree to comply with the Trusted Trader Code of Practice.