The BWF Code of Conduct ensures that all members must address the issues associated with customer care and that BWF offers the resources to support this. New rules on consumer rights and dispute resolution came in on 1st October 2015 and with the EU Consumer Rights Directive already being implemented in the UK, all businesses also need to ensure that their contracts of terms and conditions are compliant with the new rules.
The Consumer Rights Act
This Consumer Rights Act sets out to consolidate, improve and update laws around consumer protection and the rights of any consumer dealing with a business that supplies goods, services or – as is often the case with joinery – a mixture of both. For joinery and woodworking firms that deal with the public, including selling doors, windows and other timber products for the home, this new set of legislation is very likely to require a few changes to the way you do business. The new rights and responsibilities now in force include:
- Consumers having a clear right to demand that substandard services are redone or failing that receive a price reduction.
- A 30-day time period to return faulty goods and get a full refund.
- Consumers being entitled to some money back after one failed repair of faulty goods (or one faulty replacement) even if more than 30 days have passed.
We have updated our guidance in light of the changes and now provide two separate standard Terms and Conditions templates, as the amendments to the consumer version in light of the Consumer Rights Act are quite extensive. In addition to this a copy of the complaints procedure has been appended to the consumer version of the T+Cs, as this is required under the Act when dealing with consumers. The free-to-members guidance we provide also covers advice on distance selling and exemptions for bespoke products.
BWF members should as standard practice include a cancellation notice whenever they make a contract with a consumer away from their own business premises, or by distance selling means (e.g. over the phone or by email).
The new documents include:
BWF Guide to Consumer Regulations
Sample Terms & Conditions of Sale (consumer)
Sample Terms & Conditions of Sale (business to business)
Sample Letter To Be Sent When Supplying [and Installing] Goods
Model Notice of Cancellation Clause for use with Consumer Contracts
Guide for quotations
You can find these on the BWF website within our general business support publications, in addition to further resources such as the BWF Guide to Running a Joinery business and our model complaints procedure
Alternative Dispute Resolution
At the same time you need to consider the new European Directive on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) that has now been absorbed into UK law and introduces a requirement around ADR. This is designed to offer a quicker and cheaper alternative to the court system when disputes cannot be resolved between the consumer and the business directly.
Even though it’s not mandatory for businesses or consumers to use it, you are required to signpost the customer to an approved, independent ADR provider – an ombudsman or similar scheme – so there is the option if both parties wish to pursue it. This will also mean updating your T&Cs and know who you will signpost to.
BWF has worked with RICS to develop a compliant ADR process to support members. The main driver for establishing the services is that BWF members can signpost their customer to a surveyor who knows the products and markets.
The ADR bodies are regulated by the Institute for Trading Standards, and the full list of approved ADR bodies can be found at: www.tradingstandards.uk/advice/ADRApprovedBodies.cfm
All online traders are already required to have a contact email address on their website (an online contact form that does not show the email address is not sufficient). From Monday 15 February, all businesses which trade online must also provide a link to the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) website portal. You can find the ODR portal here : http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr/
You can contact us for advice and access industry-specific legal advice and many free-to-members business support services via www.bwf.org.uk