National Consumer Week 2009: Businesses urged to educate staff on consumer rights
Small businesses in the UK need to treat staff training on consumer rights as a priority.
A Trading Standards Institute (TSI) snapshot survey showed that more than half of traders do not make new staff aware of customer rights when they join and a quarter of those questioned said they never update full-time employees on how to stay on the right side of consumer law.
This year National Consumer Week is linking with the Know Your Consumer Rights campaign coordinated by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Both launched today with events at Bluewater, in Kent.
Consumer Affairs Minister Kevin Brennan said: 'The message to businesses is good customer service develops customer loyalty and knowledgeable staff will be able to resolve disputes more easily and confidently, saving time and money.
'Knowledgeable, confident consumers are much more likely to get a fair deal, save money and get the right result when things go wrong. This is especially important during the current economic climate, when every penny is more precious than usual.'
TSI chief executive Ron Gainsford said: 'The aim of National Consumer Week this year is to help traders stay on the right side of consumer law, which not only protects the interests of their customers but also promotes good business.
'Our snapshot survey highlighted a number of areas where retailers could improve on what they do already, but it was encouraging to see that many would welcome more information on how to deal confidently and fairly with consumers.'
A total of 102 businesses from across the country completed the online survey, which highlighted how 42 per cent of retailers do not let customers know how to complain if they are unhappy.
The majority of those surveyed said they wanted more information from trading standards services on consumer rights issues.
TSI bosses want to make sure businesses and their staff are well-equipped with the information they needed about trading regulations.
A separate survey carried out BIS showed that one in three consumers felt their rights were being ignored by some traders.
BIS, TSI and other partners have been working together to find the best and most effective ways of providing businesses with the consumer rights training they need. Following advice from businesses all the information on consumer rights has been centralised into one place on Business Link’s website, www.businesslink.gov.uk/consumersrights
TSI have made two modules of their Fair Trading Award (FTA) available online and free of charge. They can be accessed via Business Link or directly from the TSI website www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/ftaonline
The results of the TSI business survey revealed today show:
- Only 45 per cent of businesses provide consumer rights training for staff as part of their induction.
- 42 per cent of those surveyed did not have a publicised system for handling complaints.
- 24 per cent of traders never update full-time staff on consumer rights in relation to their business.
- 74 per cent of businesses got their information on consumer rights from local authority trading standards services.
National Consumer Week 14 –18 September 2009
National Consumer Week is an annual national event organised by the Trading Standards Institute. The first event was initiated in 1988 and since then it has grown from strength to strength. Local Authorities support the week with competitions, information stands and other activities, from plays in schools to events in shopping centres.
TSI promotes National Consumer Week to raise consumers' awareness of a range of issues that impact on their daily lives.
This year's event will also spotlight the need for business to know their consumer's rights with free access to on-line training for businesses.
Know Your Consumer Rights campaign
The consumer-facing side of Know Your Consumer Rights aims to educate shoppers about their three key rights – 'goods must fit the description given, be of satisfactory quality and suitable for purpose'.
For further information and clear, practical advice consumers will be encouraged to contact Consumer Direct on 08454 040506 or visit the website www.consumerdirect.gov.uk.
A number of big-name retailers – including Asda, DIY retailers Wickes and B&Q and online fashion retailers Asos.com and Figleaves.com – have already signed as partners, with more expected to follow suit as the campaign gains momentum. Through a number of channels, including in-store radio and leaflet distribution, they will help to educate consumers about their key rights and raise awareness of Consumer Direct.
The survey was conducted by BMRB and questioned 2,009 people in England, Scotland and Wales. Further information is available at www.bis.gov.uk
fair trading award™
The fair trading award consists of five modules and teaches staff all about consumer rights and customer service. Available online, each module can be completed in less than 45 minutes. It is an ideal way to bring staff up to speed with the issues highlighted in the 'Know Your Consumer Rights Campaign' a collaboration between Consumer Direct, the Trading Standards Institute, Consumer Focus and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
TSI is offering two free modules, 'The Sale of Goods Act' and 'The Supply of Goods and Services'. The great news is, if staff complete a further three modules at only £30 plus VAT each, they will be awarded the FTA certificate - a nationally recognised award issued by TSI.
For more information visit www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/ftaonline
Trading Standards Institute
Trading Standards Institute has represented the interests of Trading Standards professionals for 120 years. We have a long and proud history of ensuring that the views of our members are well represented at the highest level of government, both nationally and internationally.
Our aim is to promote excellence and enhance the professionalism of our members in support of empowering and informing consumers, encouraging and working with honest businesses, targeting rogue traders and rogue trading practices and contributing to the health, welfare and wellbeing of citizens and communities.
TSI members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities in response to 2 million consumer and business complaints and enquiries each year. They also support the delivery of new initiatives such as Consumer Direct, providing first point of contact practical consumer advice.
They also work in the business, consumer and central government sectors in promoting and influencing the safety, prosperity and enhancement of individuals and markets with a dependency on effective and professional trading standards contributions and interventions.
Consumer Direct - 08454 04 05 06
Consumer Direct is a Government-backed telephone and online consumer advice service which works in partnership with Local Authority Trading Standards. It provides clear, practical and impartial advice and information to help consumers resolve problems and disagreements with suppliers of goods and services. Consumer Direct is available from 0800-1830 Monday to Friday, and 0900-1300 Saturday, excluding bank and public holidays.
Calls cost a maximum of 4 pence per minute from a BT landline. Calls from mobiles or other networks may vary. Your service provider may charge a minimum cost per call. The advice and information given is free.
Consumerline – 0845 600 6262
Consumerline is a telephone and online advice service for Northern Ireland.
Our telephone advisors provide clear and practical advice on a wide range of consumer issues. Where appropriate details of complaints will be forwarded to the Trading Standards Service for investigation.
Bluewater is a retail and leisure destination with 1.5 million sq ft of retail, featuring 330 UK and International brands, 50 restaurants and bars, 13,000 free parking spaces, 50 acres of parkland, 7 lakes. Bluewater attracts 27 million visitors per year.