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Press releases 2005 -

Ombudsman for Estate Agents Company gets OFT code approval

170/05    8 September 2005

The Ombudsman for Estate Agents Company Limited (OEA) has secured OFT approval for its consumer code of practice. The code is designed to ensure consumers get a fairer deal when using OEA estate agents' services.

The OEA represents around forty per cent of estate agency offices in the UK. Members of the OEA can now use the OFT approved code logo to display their commitment to high quality customer service standards.

The OFT only approves codes that are effective in safeguarding and promoting consumer interests beyond the basic requirements of the law. The main benefits for consumers dealing with OEA members include:

  • access to free dispute resolution via the Ombudsman for Estate Agents scheme
  • consumer satisfaction surveys to ensure members are complying with the code
  • members to use fair and clear contract terms
  • a disciplinary council to deal with members who do not deliver the standards required by the code.

Welcoming OEA's successful efforts to secure OFT approval for its code, Sir John Vickers, OFT Chairman, said:

'The OFT approved code logo helps consumers identify businesses committed to fair trading. OEA's consumer code of practice raises the bar for customer service in the estate agency sector'.

The OFT Consumer Codes Approval Scheme comprises two stages:

  • Stage one – the code sponsor must ensure the code meets the OFT's published 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 made at Stage One, demonstrating that the code is being effectively implemented, by its members and that consumer disputes are properly resolved.

NOTES

1. The OEA Company Limited (OEA) was established to run the Ombudsman for Estate Agents Scheme. OEA members represent around 40 per cent of estate agency offices in the UK. For further details about the OEA and to view its Residential Estate Agency Code of Practice for the OEA Scheme, visit the OEA website 

2. The OEA submitted its code on 5 September 2001 for assessment under the OFT's code approval scheme. It completed stage one on 28 October 2002. See press release 69a/02 for further information.

3. The OEA publishes results of its customer satisfaction surveys on the OEA website.

4. The Enterprise Act 2002 (Part 1, Section 8) gives the OFT powers to approve and promote 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. See press release 31/01 for further details.

5. The Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) received approval on 27 September 2004 (see press release 153/04), the Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association Ltd (VBRA) received approval on 13 October 2004 (see press release 169/04) and the Direct Selling Association (DSA) received approval on 16 December 2004 (see press release 209/04). Code sponsors that have completed stage one and are working towards approval of their code are: the Association of British Travel Agents (see press release 15/03), the Motor Vehicle and Repairers Association (see press release 09/05), the Debt Managers Standards Association (see press release 121/05) and the Carpet Foundation (see press release 158/05).




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