Consumer self-regulation

Stuff reports:

Customers will be the winners if companies agree to sign up to NZ’s tough fair trading code of conduct.

To earn its “Consumer Trusted” accreditation a business must sign up to a strict code of conduct and a set of eight principles promoting fair trading. They will also pay a fee of up to $25,000 a year.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said the programme aimed to deliver high standards of customer service and consumer confidence. …

“What we’ve developed through Consumer Trusted is a visible way of rewarding businesses with genuinely top-class customer service.”

“Our goal is to inspire all businesses to go beyond the minimum standards of consumer law,” Chetwin said.

The programme’s consumer principles include: excellent customer service, fair returns and refunds policies, clear pricing and accurate advertising.

Businesses must also sign up to a code of conduct which includes a range of fair trading clauses.

For example, if a product worth more than $100 goes on sale within a week of purchase the buyer is entitled to a refund of the difference.

Accredited businesses must also belong to an approved dispute-resolution scheme, or allow Consumer NZ to provide the service.

Large companies would pay $25,000 a year to be part of the programme, while the fee for smaller businesses would be in the “low thousands” of dollars per year, she said. Revenue from the programme would go back into research, testing and consumer dispute resolution service.

I like this initiative. It is a voluntary self-regulation initiative. A business will only join up if it thinks the fee and commitments it makes are worth the gain in reputation and trust. A good market initiative.

Chetwin said she hopes to get 25 businesses on board by the end of the year. Four have already been accredited, including telecommunications company 2degrees, online electricity retailer Powershop, internet service provider Inspire Net and shoe retailer Shoe Clinic.

That’s cool – two of those companies are ones I use.

THE 8 PRINCIPLES

Provide excellent customer service

Fair, clear returns and refunds policies

Informative and up-to-date website

All complaints and disputes dealt with fairly

Contracts must be fair and easily understood

Clear pricing

Customer details are not exploited

Advertising is accurate

They are good principles.

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