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Press releases 2004 -

Safer selling in the home with DSA code approval

209/04    16 December 2004

The Direct Selling Association has secured approval for its consumer code of practice under the OFT's Consumer Codes Approval Scheme.

The DSA, whose membership includes many household names and accounts for over 70 per cent of direct sales in the home, is the third industry body to receive OFT approval for its code of practice. Members will now be able to display the OFT 'Approved Code' logo in marketing material.

The OFT only approves codes that are proven to safeguard and promote consumers' interests beyond the basic requirements of the law. The main benefits to consumers dealing with DSA members include:

  • a 14-day cooling-off period during which consumers can cancel the contract (the statutory minimum provides a seven-day cooling-off period for unsolicited visits only)
  • a consumer guide to  shopping at home
  • guidance and training to direct sellers to ensure they act with integrity and do not use misleading, deceptive or unfair practices
  • a free independent arbitration scheme 
  • regular compliance audits and consumer satisfaction surveys with a disciplinary committee to deal with members who do not comply with the code.

The OFT consumer codes approval scheme comprises two stages:

  • Stage one – the code sponsor must ensure that its code meets the OFT's core criteria and contains measures designed to remove or ease consumer concerns about undesirable trading practices in its sector
  • Stage two – the code sponsor must prove that its code lives up to the promise, demonstrating that the code is being effectively implemented by its members and that consumer disputes are properly resolved.

Announcing the approval for the DSA code, Penny Boys, OFT Executive Director, said:

'The home is a unique environment in which to shop so it is particularly important that direct sellers deal fairly with consumers. Our market study into doorstep selling, published earlier this year, showed how vital it is for consumers to know that they are dealing with reputable traders. OFT approval for the DSA code means that consumers can feel confident that they will be dealt with reliably and fairly by those who are DSA members. If problems arise, they will be put right through the DSA's procedures.'

Richard Berry, Director of the DSA, said:

'For over 30 years, as the direct sales channel of distribution has steadily expanded in the UK, the DSA has championed high trading standards through its consumer code. Today's confirmation, by the OFT, that those who buy goods and services from DSA members can be assured of exceptional levels of consumer protection, is warmly welcomed.'

NOTES

1. The DSA submitted its code on 26 September 2001 for assessment under the OFT's code approval scheme. It completed  stage one on 3 December 2002. See press release 84/02 for further information.

2. The DSA was formed in 1965 and has 39 full members who use the services of 396,000 individual direct sellers. The DSA claims that over 70 per cent of the £2 billion of goods and services that are purchased annually by UK consumers in their homes are sold by DSA members. It is the third trade association to receive OFT approval for its code.

3. The Enterprise Act 2002 gives the OFT increased powers to help develop effective self-regulation through approving and promoting consumer codes of practice that meet the OFT's core criteria. The OFT's Consumer Codes Approval Scheme aims to promote and safeguard consumers' interests by helping consumers identify better businesses and to encourage those businesses to raise standards of customer service.

4. The Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) received approval on 27 September 2004 (see press release 153/04) and the Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association Ltd (VBRA) received approval on 13 October 2004 (see press release 169/04). Code sponsors that have completed stage one and are working towards approval of their code are: the Ombudsman of Estate Agents Company Ltd (OEA) (see press release 69a/02) and the Association of British Travel Agents (see press release 15/03).




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