1. GENERAL ADMINISTRATION OF THE REGISTER
1.1 St Helens Council Trading Standards will manage the register. As such, Trading Standards reserves the right to alter or amend the terms and conditions of the register at its discretion. Any changes will be notified to businesses as soon as is reasonably practicable.
1.2 The register only applies in respect of business to consumer transactions. In areas of doubt, the decision of Trading Standards will be final.
1.3 Applications to join the register should be made to Trading Standards who will be responsible for assessing the application. This administrative process may only be undertaken by an authorised administrator.
1.4 Businesses will have the option of withdrawing from the register at any time by giving 14 working days notice to Trading Standards. However, any obligations or responsibilities entered into whilst registered with the register must be honoured, including adherence to the register’s Resolution of Contractual Complaints Procedure.
1.5 Should a member wish to withdraw from the register, there will be no refund of any fees or charges.
1.6 Membership of the register requires businesses to adhere to the terms and conditions laid out in this Code of Practice. Prior to joining the register, applicants will be asked to read and sign a declaration to this effect (included on the application form).
1.7 Any certificates and documentation provided by Trading Standards, which indicate membership of the Register, remain the property of, and shall be returned to Trading Standards on request or when membership of the register ceases.
1.8 From 1st January 2018 Trading Standards will send any written correspondence to members via email. Please ensure you have an up to date email address on file. If you do not have an email address, please let us know.
1.8 Refusal, Suspension and Revocation of Membership:
1.8.1 Trading Standards reserves the right to refuse, or revoke, membership to any applicant or registered member, which it feels does not satisfy the criteria laid down in the Code of Practice. It may, as an alternative to refusal, impose certain conditions that need to be satisfied prior to acceptance of membership.
1.8.2 In particular, Trading Standards reserves the right to refuse or revoke membership:
(a) Should there be a significant breach of the Code of Practice.
(b) Upon failure to notify Trading Standards if there is a change in ownership of the business. Trading Standards must be notified within 7 working days of any change in ownership of a business registered with the register (paragraph 2.1.9).
(c) Upon information supplied by any regulatory agency (or similar) which casts doubt upon the suitability of any particular business to join the register.
(d) If a trader has ceased trading, been made bankrupt or is in receivership.
(e) If a trader fails to provide the appropriate documents and/or fee.
1.8.3 Without prejudice to paragraph 1.8.2. above, Trading Standards may decide to suspend membership until such time as a full investigation can be concluded. It may also suspend membership in order to monitor whether a particular business remains suitable for inclusion within the register.
1.8.4 Membership will not be suspended or revoked, nor will an application be refused except for good reason.
1.8.5 As an alternative to suspension or revocation of membership Trading Standards reserves the right, where considered appropriate, to implement other disciplinary measures (for example, a written warning).
1.9 Appeals against Refusal, Suspension or Revocation of Membership:
1.9.1 An appeals procedure exists and any business wishing to take advantage of this procedure should write to: St Helens Council Trading Standards Trader Register, 3rd Floor, Wesley House, Corporation Street, St Helens, WA10 1HE.
1.9.2 Stage 1 Once a complaint has been raised this complaint will be logged onto the Corporate Contact System. A letter will be sent to the complainant explaining who will be handling their complaint and the approximate time we think it will take to resolve the complaint. Once an investigation has been completed we will write to both the trader with a decision and recommendations. If the trader is not happy with our response they have 28 days to ask us to progress the complaint to Stage two.
The complaint will then be forwarded to the senior Officer for the Service to investigate. A letter will be sent out to the trader explaining who is handling the complaint and the approximate time we think it will take to resolve the complaint.
Once an investigation has been completed we will write to the trader with a decision and recommendations. If the trader is not happy with our response they have 28 days to ask us to progress the complaint to Stage three.
Where the actions outlined in Stage Two fail to lead to resolution, the Chief Executive will review the details of the complaint and will carry out an investigation or nominate an Investigating Officer at Chief Officer level. If more information is needed by the Chief Executive or delegated Chief Officer about the complaint then an interview with the customer may be requested. The Chief Executive will respond within 15 days where possible to the customer to inform them of the outcome of their investigation. If for any reason this will take longer, then the customer will be kept up to date with any progress and given a reason as to why the response is delayed.
1.8.3 Appeals will be conducted in writing although should either party object to a written appeal, an appeal will be conducted by way of a personal hearing within 28 days.
1.8.4 The decision at Stage 3 is final.
2 RESPONSIBILITIES OF REGISTER MEMBERS
2.1.1 Businesses must comply with all trading standards legislation and all civil law obligations relating to their business. When a business employs sub-contractors, the business will be responsible for ensuring all sub-contractors comply with all trading standards legislation and all civil law obligations relating to their business. It is recommended that you inform any sub-contractors and/or employees of your membership.
2.1.2 Businesses must notify Trading Standards of any:
-civil court judgements against them,
-current legal proceedings
relating to matters covered by this Code of Practice.
2.1.3 Businesses must possess public liability insurance covering a minimum of £2 million pounds liability. Where applicable, businesses must also possess employer’s liability insurance covering a minimum of £5 million pounds liability.
2.1.4 Members must provide their public liability insurance certificate to Trading Standards annually.
2.1.5 A copy of your public liability insurance must be received by Trading Standards on or before the date that your membership fee is due. Failure to provide the appropriate fee and/or your insurance documents will result in your membership being suspended.
2.1.6 Businesses have a responsibility to trade fairly and provide good quality customer service.
2.1.7 Management control must exist to ensure that businesses operate legally and adhere to set customer service procedures.
2.1.8 Businesses will ensure that a copy of this Code of Practice is made available to any interested party upon request.
2.1.9 Businesses must notify Trading Standards if there is a change to their nominated representative under the register.
2.1.10 Trading Standards must be notified within 7 working days of any change in ownership of a business registered with the register.
2.1.11 If a trader applying to join the register claims to be a member of an organisation for example Gas Safe/NICEIC or makes any claims whatsoever Trading Standards will request proof of this membership. It is vital that any changes in membership and/or revocation are notified to Trading Standards immediately. Failure to do this could constitute a criminal offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
2.1.12 St Helens Council Trading Standards reserves the right to make checks to ensure that a trader remains part of an organisation they are claiming to be a member of.
2.1.13 Membership does not provide immunity from inspection, investigation, cautioning or prosecution for criminal offences or action taken under The Enterprise Act 2002.
2.2.1 All businesses will receive a Certificate of Membership
2.2.3 While members, businesses may use documentation and logos relating to the register, in accordance with copyright regulations and relevant national advertising and display codes of practice, in the following ways:
(a) On business documentation.
(b) On business premises.
(c) In other advertising media.
2.2.4 On ceasing membership of the register, all references to the register including references to membership, use of logos, signs on business premises, business documentation and any form of advertising must be removed, obliterated or otherwise negated immediately. Failure to do this could constitute an offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
2.2.5 The Service retains the copyright and intellectual property rights of the Scheme, its certificate, symbol and all associated works. Members are given a licence for the duration of their membership of the Scheme to use the certificate and logo in the manner detailed in the Scheme.
2.2.6 Businesses must not state or otherwise imply that they are “approved” by the register or by any partner agency of the St Helens Council Trader Register.
2.2.7 Businesses undertake that all promotional material shall be clear and truthful and will comply with any relevant national advertising code of practice.
2.3 Customer Care:
2.3.1 Customers must not be deprived of their implied rights with regard to the descriptions and quality of goods sold. The customers’ contract is with the seller of the goods and a customer is entitled by law to look to the seller for redress. Manufacturers’ guarantees are in addition to customers’ implied rights.
2.3.2 Customers should be treated in a polite and courteous manner at all times.
2.3.3 Traders will not discriminate against consumers in any way including on grounds of race, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation or religion or belief.
2.3.4 Businesses must not engage in high pressure selling techniques.
2.3.5 Businesses should provide clear and accurate information on key contract terms.
2.3.6 Where appropriate to the size and nature of the business and where reasonably practicable full written information concerning the contract should be provided on request.
2.3.7 Businesses will not seek to take advantage of vulnerable consumers, where necessary and reasonably practicable they will offer additional assistance to ensure that all aspects of the transaction are fully understood.
2.3.8 Where appropriate to the size and nature of the business, easily accessible and user-friendly after-sales procedures should be in place to ensure consumer requirements are dealt with effectively. Any charges must be clearly communicated to users, in certain instances Trading Standards may require such charges to be notified prior to purchase.
2.3.9 Completion/delivery dates should be as flexible as possible and should be agreed in advance. Where delays prove unavoidable the consumer should be given as much advance notice as possible. Where appropriate to the size and nature of the business Trading Standards may require that such dates be communicated in writing.
2.3.10 Where relevant, clear and accurate information should be given on cancellation rights, including any additional rights offered.
2.3.11 Where guarantees and/or warranties are included as standard in the transaction, clear and accurate details should be provided to the consumer.
2.3.12 Where additional guarantees and warranties are offered it must be made clear that these are optional and in addition to the consumer’s statutory rights. Clear and accurate details should be provided. There must be no high-pressure selling of additional guarantees or warranties.
2.3.13 All terms of the contract for any repairs and servicing work should be clear and precise. If unexpected additional work is then needed, the customer should be notified and their permission obtained before any extra work is carried out.
2.3.14 All work undertaken must be carried out with reasonable skill and care, for a reasonable charge and, unless specifically agreed otherwise with the customer, within a reasonable time.
2.3.15 Invoices should be clear and show exact details of the work carried out and any parts charged for.
2.3.16 All members of the scheme are liable to their customers for any loss resulting from negligence or default of the business and its servants. This service accepts no liability for any loss or damage which is claimed to have arisen out of any alleged act or failure to act on the part of any scheme member.
2.4 Customer Complaints Procedure
2.4.1 Businesses must have an effective customer complaints procedure, understood by all staff who may come into contact with the public.
2.4.2 A member of staff should be designated as responsible for dealing with aggrieved customers. Any complaints should be dealt with promptly, effectively and courteously and in accordance with good business practice.
2.4.3 A record of all customer complaints will be maintained by the business.
2.4.4 Businesses will co-operate with the Trading Standards Service or other partner agencies or any other intermediary consulted by the consumer in an attempt to resolve any complaint in accordance with the register’s Resolution of Contractual Complaints procedure.
2.5.1 All staff should be trained, or be in the course of training, to the level of competence necessary for the efficient performance of the tasks regularly required of them. This should include their legal obligations and responsibilities.
3 RESPONSIBILITIES OF REGISTER ADMINISTRATORS
3.1 Conciliation and Mediation:
3.1.1 If necessary, St Helens Council Trading Standards will endeavour to offer civil advice to both parties.
3.1.2 In accordance with the register Resolution of Contractual Complaints procedure, the Trading Standards Service may offer to work with both parties. In order to facilitate this, the Trading Standards Service may request a written position statement from both parties in the form of a Dispute Resolution Form.
3.1.3 The decision of any mediation process is not legally binding on either party.
3.2 Assessment and monitoring:
3.2.1 In deciding whether a business is suitable for membership of the register or in monitoring whether a business remains suitable for membership of the register, Trading Standards may take into consideration the following criteria:
18.104.22.168 An assessment of any complaints or enquiries made to the Trading Standards Services or any other agencies concerning the applicant. This may involve seeking further information from any consumers concerned.
22.214.171.124 Where deemed appropriate, Trading Standards reserves the right to consult with any other regulatory agency concerning an applicant’s fitness to join or remain on the register.
126.96.36.199 An assessment of any Customer Satisfaction Surveys received about a business.
188.8.131.52 Any other information deemed relevant.
3.4.1 Trading Standards will make available upon request a list of businesses registered with the register.
3.4.2 Trading Standards will maintain a publicly available website which will contain information about the register, access to standard documentation and will also allow viewers to search for businesses by trade sector and/or geographical area.
3.4.3 Posters and leaflets promoting the register will be on display in places of public interest.
3.4.4 Trading Standards will undertake various promotional activities throughout the course of each year in order to raise general awareness of the existence of the register.
3.5 Additional Business Benefits
3.5.1 An email address will be provided for business queries about the register or about trading standards/consumer protection legislation in general. Responses will be made within seven working days.
3.5.2 Information on various current issues such as major changes to legislation will be disseminated to businesses via appropriate media.
3.5.3 Trading Standards will randomly check the Terms and Conditions, Contracts and/or legal compliance that a trader uses. If you, as the trader require assistance with these areas, Trading Standards may be able to offer assistance. This assistance is offered subject to availability.
4.1 Any businesses wishing to join the register will be required to pay an upfront, non-refundable, administration fee.
4.2 The administration fee must be paid at the same time as the application is received. This fee is non-refundable and is payable whether or not the application is successful.
4.3 Where the administration fee is not received with the application, the application will not be processed and the documents destroyed 14 days from the receipt of the application.
4.4 On successful completion of the application process, the Applicant will be deemed to have accepted the offer of membership only when the appropriate membership fee is paid to the Council within 30 days.
4.5 A copy of your public liability insurance must be received by Trading Standards on or before the date that your membership fee is due. Failure to provide the appropriate fee and/or your insurance documents will result in your membership being suspended.
4.6 Reminders will be sent out via email approximately four weeks before your payment is due. If payment has not been received by the due date membership will be suspended. It is therefore imperative that email addresses are kept up to date and you notify us of any changes immediately.
4.7 Membership of the register remains valid until otherwise notified by Trading Standards.
4.8 Trading Standards may amend any fees or charges pertaining to the register, members will be notified of any changes in advance and in writing.
4.9 Where membership is suspended or withdrawn, there will be no refund of any membership fees that may have been paid.
4.10 Should the register be suspended or terminated, appropriate proportional reimbursement of fees will be made. No reimbursement will be made in respect of advertising material or documentation.