Q: What is a Consumer Code?
A: A Consumer Code sets a benchmark of business and customer
service standards that Approved members are required to follow. The criteria
used in all the Codes that underpin the NCC Approved schemes closely mirrors the
government’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT) Consumer Codes Approval Scheme and
broadly assesses how a business:
- Markets and advertises its products and services
- Handles requests for information from consumers
- Guides consumers through the buying process
- Conducts the sale and handover
- Introduces and fulfil warranties
- Delivers an aftersales service
- Responds to complaints
Q: How does a business become NCC Approved?
A: After a member signs up to the scheme, a comprehensive
on-site evaluation of existing procedures is carried out by an independent
assessor who reviews these against the Code criteria. If there are any elements
that do not comply with the Code these must be rectified and evidenced to the
assessor before NCC Approval can be granted. Thereafter, NCC continually
monitors compliance of all NCC Approved businesses through various methods (e.g.
desktop checks, targeted compliance monitoring, mystery shopping) to ensure that
compliance is maintained.
Q: What is the benefit of buying from a NCC Approved business?
By being NCC Approved, a business demonstrates to existing and potential
customers that it makes a conscious and tangible commitment to protect their
interests, treat them fairly and honestly, operate to best industry practice and
maintain high standards. To be NCC Approved is to:
- Provide a greater level of consumer protection and rights than is required by law
- Deal in an open, honest and fair manner with consumers
- Have a user friendly customer complaints procedure
- Commit to delivering high standards of customer satisfaction
- Operate a process of continuous improvement based on customer feedback
Q: Why have the Codes and schemes been established?
A: The NCC scheme and Codes are designed to improve consumer
protection and to promote and protect the interests of NCC members. They also
align with the Government’s ambition to rein in costly state regulation and
allow industries to focus more on growing their markets than complying with red
tape. The Government still wants industries to maintain high standards of
customer care and fair provision of goods and services, but has been encouraging
this through self-regulation, using Codes based on the Office of Fair Trading
(OFT) Consumer Code Approval Scheme.
Q: Who governs the schemes?
A: The schemes are managed day-to-day by the NCC, supported by
an independent assessor team, and overseen by an independent Policy Board with
consumer interest representation. The Policy Board is responsible for ensuring
compliance standards and has a range of sanctions at its disposal to ensure that
compliance is maintained.
Q: What happens if I have a complaint?
A: Each Code details complaint handling procedures but initially
all complaints will be considered by the business concerned. If a mutually
agreeable resolution can’t be found, the NCC offers its own Informal Dispute
Resolution services and if this is unsuccessful, the unresolved compliant can be
escalated to an Independent Case Examiner who will normally make an
adjudication. For further information, there is a complaint guidance document
available under “Downloads”.
Q: What happens if a business is found to be in breach of the Code?
A: Dependent on the breach (or non-compliance), the business is
given an opportunity to remedy the situation. Timescales and actions on how to
remedy the non-compliances will be agreed. If the business doesn’t respond
appropriately within prescribed time limits, the breach is reported to the
independent Policy Board which has a range of sanctions at its disposal. These
range from warnings through to cancellation of NCC Approval and NCC membership.