Since its launch in 2013, the Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS) has flourished, providing consumers with peace of mind when choosing a trader and giving businesses a vital boost.
The scheme, which celebrates its eighth anniversary this month, works by enabling businesses within any sector to sign up to an independent code of practice designed to improve consumer confidence. The knock-on effect of this is to create better working practices, higher standards of service and, ultimately, increased business.
The codes themselves are created by sponsors, using the benefits of their expertise in their specific fields. Sponsors include trade associations such as the British Association of Removers and dispute resolution bodies such as The Motor Ombudsman.
Furthermore, since CCAS is provided by CTSI, code sponsors, members and consumers alike can be confident that the scheme is backed by consumer protection experts and operates in line with all relevant business and consumer protection law.
According to CTSI’s Sue Steward, “Since 2014, the business members who belong to our code sponsors have more than doubled, increasing by 154%. We are very proud to have 18 code sponsors who adhere to the core criteria. This means that more consumers are being protected by more businesses than ever before.”
For code sponsors, the value of the scheme is self-evident. One such sponsor, The Consumer Code for Home Builders, was established to make the marketing and buying of new-build homes fairer and more transparent for consumers, by improving standards of customer service and providing independent redress when things go wrong. A spokesperson says: “The CTSI Consumer Codes Approval Scheme gives reassurance to home buyers that our Code has been independently and rigorously assessed and enables developers covered by our Code to demonstrate third-party endorsement of their commitment to customer service.”
According to the British Healthcare Trades Association, another CCAS sponsor, “Being part of CCAS reassures consumers and healthcare professionals alike that they are dealing with member companies who offer valuable advice and a no-pressure sale at a time when they may be experiencing a change in life circumstances. Finding the products to maintain independent living via BHTA members can help to provide improved quality of life.”
“We are proud to have entered into different sectors since our launch, including renewables and home warranties,” says Steward. “In addition, many of our code sponsors have grown and had more codes approved with CCAS. Several of our sponsors now have more than one code approved.”
Alternative dispute resolution
One of CCAS’s primary focuses is on offering an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) platform to its members and their customers. ADR is a powerful way of addressing disputes between businesses and consumers in a much faster – and more cost-effective – way than the traditional route of going through the courts. It uses an impartial mediator to act as a buffer between the various parties, who works to ensure an outcome that is as mutually satisfactory as possible.
“CCAS celebrated five years of ADR in 2020,” says Steward. “Alternative Dispute Resolution is a fast, efficient and often less stressful way of seeking redress when compared to going to court. Our code sponsors often offer ADR for free or a small fee.”
One CCAS member that provides an ADR service is The Motor Ombudsman. “All four of our comprehensive Codes of Practice are backed by the trusted Consumer Codes Approval Scheme,” says a Motor Ombudsman spokesperson. “This gives today’s motorists the all-important peace of mind that when they see the widely-recognised Approved Code logo displayed by any of the vehicle manufacturers, warranty providers or thousands of garages and car retailers that are accredited to us, they know that these businesses have committed to providing customers with a high standard of service and workmanship.”
Joining the CCAS
For prospective CCAS sponsors, Steward says: “We welcome applications from several different sectors and we feel it is important to help increase consumer protection in those areas or sectors where it is needed most.”
Code sponsors have the opportunity to:
- be part of a robust codes approval scheme that businesses want to join;
- grow their membership base and increase market share, through a commitment to reducing consumer detriment;
- display the CTSI approved code logo, further boosting consumer confidence.
Businesses can be a part of CCAS by belonging to a code sponsor. This requires them to have clear pre-contractual information, so the consumer knows what they are buying and is clear about all charges. They must also have a robust customer complaints procedure. As with sponsors, membership allows them to display the CTSI approved code logo.
The CCAS now has more than 79,000 members and 18 code sponsors, with 23 approved codes of practice. It is not resting on its laurels though. After eight years of success, says Steward, CCAS is looking to the future with an eye on expansion. “We would like to see CCAS grow and for more organisations to join in our commitment to increasing consumer protection,” she says. “The scheme not only benefits consumers, but also helps support businesses throughout the whole purchasing journey.”
To find out more about the CCAS, including how to become a member or a sponsor, click here.