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37/06 2 March 2006
The SafeBuy Consumer Code of Practice has successfully completed the first stage of the OFT's Consumer Codes Approval Scheme.
The SafeBuy Assurance Scheme for web-based retailers is designed to make internet shopping both safer and more efficient for consumers. SafeBuy members sell a wide range of products, from mainstream consumer goods through to specialist items. It currently has over 1000 members, and is expanding by approximately 40 new businesses a month.
By completing Stage One, SafeBuy has satisfied the OFT that its Consumer Code of Practice promotes and safeguards consumer interests beyond the minimum requirements of consumer law. Some of the key features of the SafeBuy Code of Practice include:
SafeBuy will now be invited to provide the OFT with evidence that its code is working in practice and delivering on its promises. Only codes that can demonstrate that they are effective in promoting the interests of the consumer will be approved and entitled to display the OFT Approved code logo and official promotion.
John Fingleton, OFT Chief Executive said:
'The OFT Consumer Codes Approval Scheme safeguards consumers interests by helping them to identify businesses with a higher standard of customer care. We welcome the work that SafeBuy has undertaken to develop their code of practice, and look forward to working with them during this next stage towards OFT approval.'
1. The SafeBuy Assurance Scheme for web-based retailers is operated by Software Research Ltd. It is endorsed by TrustUK, and the Alliance for Electronic Business, supported by the UK Government.
2. The OFT's Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS) aims to promote and safeguard consumer interests by helping them to identify better businesses, and to encourage those businesses to raise their standards of customer service. The core criteria cover the organisation of the code sponsor, the preparation and content of the code, complaints handling, monitoring, compliance and publicity (see press release 31/01).
3. The CCAS consists of two stages:
Stage One – the code sponsor makes a promise that its code meets the OFT's core criteria. The code sponsor must make sure that its code contains measures designed to remove or ease consumer concerns and undesirable trading practices in its sector. At this stage, the code sponsor is not allowed to claim OFT approval for its code because there has not yet been an evaluation of how well the code is working in practice.
Stage Two – the code sponsor must prove its code meets the initial promise made. The burden of proof lies with the code sponsor, who must also show that the code is being effectively implemented by all who claim to adhere to it and that consumer disputes are being properly resolved. Only when this proof has been met will OFT approval of the code and promotion follow.
4. You may obtain a copy of the Code by writing to SafeBuy, PO Box 116, Henley-on-Thames, RG91FL or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. For more information see the Approved codes of practice section of the website.
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