The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is urging businesses to join its Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS), which it believes will be key to strengthening consumer confidence and protection, and avoid the costs and aggravation associated with litigation by engaging in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
CTSI wants honest businesses to join a Code Sponsor and pledge to follow their code of conduct, signifying their commitment to quality and service beyond basic consumer law.
The CCAS is a growing family of sector-specific consumer codes across the economic spectrum, with each sponsored by an industry body and approved by CTSI. The scheme has seen an 85% year-on-year rise in the number of consumers assisted, according to its annual report published in June 2018. The CCAS currently consists of 18 Code Sponsors, with 23 approved codes of practice, and over 53,000 businesses pledging to abide by an approved code of practice.
For businesses, ADR is more cost-effective than going to court and generally perceived as a more amicable alternative that can help sustain a business/customer relationship. It offers businesses and consumers a wider range of options when it comes to settling disputes. ADR-approved bodies are fully-independent intermediaries which work with both sides of a dispute to reach a fair conclusion without the need for costly and time-consuming legal battles.
CTSI undertakes a strict approval process when approving Code Sponsors to ensure the highest levels of protection are offered to consumers. Last year, the scheme helped recover over £2.7 million, aiding 68,754 consumers.
Operations Director at CTSI, Andy Allen, says: “The Codes scheme ensures traders provide a good quality service to their customers. It’s continually being strengthened, with Members adopting ADR mechanisms that have been approved to standards laid down by Government.
“In the unfortunate event of a dispute with the trader, the customer now has easy access to a robust scheme designed to quickly and effectively resolve that dispute.”
ADR case studies from Code Sponsors such as The Property Ombudsman (TPO), RAC, and Renewable Energy Consumer Code (RECC), clearly demonstrate the advantages to businesses and consumers in subscribing to a code of practice.
One such study looks at RAC’s intervention where a customer received substandard service. The RAC negotiated a fair outcome which satisfied both the customer and the approved garage.
In a separate study, a letting agent failed to follow correct procedure, leading to a substantial financial loss to the landlord. The Property Ombudsman stepped in and was able to mediate between the landlord and agent, resulting in £15,500 compensation to the landlord.
These case studies can be found on the CTSI website. For more information on how to join the scheme, or to find an approved code member visit the CCAS section of the CSTI site.