New reforms to consumer rights in the home improvement look set to make Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) a mandatory requirement.
ADR is an independent service that is used to resolve disputes between customers and businesses, with the intention to resolve a dispute using mediation and conciliation to avoid the need to go to court.
A government consultation has set out key reforms to strengthen both consumer rights and business competitiveness, including specific reforms affecting the home improvement and used car sectors where they cite evidence of “stubbornly high levels of consumer harm where problems are not being resolved, and consumer satisfaction is low.”
So, how could this affect the kbb industry for installers and retailers?
1. Businesses would need to have an accredited ADR provider and use the service to settle disputes with consumers.
The proposals include more immediate plans to make ADR a mandatory requirement for home improvement companies, benefitting both businesses and consumers by saving time and cost.
Proposals also include introducing a lower limit on the value of claims and potentially a nominal charge to consumers to allay business concerns over frivolous or low value complaints.
2. Businesses would need to escalate any unresolved complaints to the ADR provider at 4 weeks.
Where a complaint cannot be settled, the Government is proposing speeding up the process so that both consumers and businesses have access to ADR at 4 weeks instead of 8.
Giving both consumers and businesses quicker access to ADR will help reduce stress, financial hardship, and the erosion of trust and potential reputational harm to businesses.
3. Only accredited ADR providers can be used.
Currently, there are numerous non-accredited and unsupervised providers offering dispute resolution on an informal basis. The government intends to improve the quality and consistency of ADR services to further increase business and consumer confidence in ADR.
Therefore, only accredited ADR providers who operate to a common set of quality standards and oversight can be used and informal arrangements with many trade organisations will no longer be allowed.
Ciaran Harkin, Managing Director of QASSS, commented on the upcoming reforms,
“This announcement is a welcome one and something that many believed should have happened some time ago and sets the foundations for the ADR landscape to really develop.We will be working with BiKBBI and members to help deliver industry-leading ADR solutions for businesses and their consumers.”
Damian Walters, Chief Executive of BiKBBI, commented, “The home improvement industry has suffered reputationally for decades at the hands of rogue traders and may I add an element of rogue consumers too. Any introduction of mandatory ADR would be welcomed by BiKBBI as we see that independent dispute assistance as adding enormous value to both buyers and sellers.”
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BiKBBI has partnered with QASSS (a Chartered Trading Standards Institute accredited ADR provider) who are industry-leading for their speed and in-depth technical expertise in the sector.
1. Access to the full government consultation ‘Reforming Competition and Consumer Policy’ can be found here.
2. QASSS is a CTSI accredited ADR provider. Find out more at www.qasss.co.uk
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