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OFT launches marketing strategy for codes approval scheme

Nov 5 2003
The OFT unveiled its plans to promote the Consumer Codes Approval Scheme to UK business and consumers today. A website will be a key feature of a broad and sustained marketing strategy to establish the Approved Code logo as a key brand for consumers to look out for.

Four code sponsors have already achieved Stage One of the two-stage process for OFT approval of their consumer codes of practice, and are now working towards recognition by the OFT that their codes are being effectively implemented. A further fourteen code sponsors are currently working towards Stage One status.

Codes that successfully achieve the second stage will be able to carry the OFT Approved Code logo. The OFT will only approve for use of the logo codes that are shown to safeguard and promote consumers’ interests beyond the basic requirements of the law.

The OFT will be promoting the benefits of the Codes Approval Scheme through a series of regional seminars and a national launch to consumers in March next year.

John Vickers, OFT Chairman, said:
‘Rigorous codes of practice are a key plank of effective self-regulation.

Today’s event shows the OFT’s commitment to building the Approved Code logo into a widely recognised brand that helps consumers identify trustworthy businesses, and which helps good business attract and retain customers.’

The Enterprise Act requires the OFT to set criteria for approving consumer codes of practice and permits it to use an official symbol to signify which codes have OFT approval. A body that administers a voluntary consumer code and can influence and raise standards within its sector, such as a trade association, may apply for approval of its code. Such a body is known as a ‘code sponsor’.

The Consumer Codes Approval Scheme comprises two stages: Stage One – the OFT must be satisfied that code meets the OFT’s core criteria in principle. The code sponsor must make sure its code contains measures designed to remove or ease consumer concerns and undesirable trading practices in its sector. Stage Two – the code sponsor must prove its code lives up to the initial promise. The burden of proof lies with the sponsor. The sponsor must show that the code is being effectively implemented by its members and that consumer disputes are properly resolved.

The four code sponsors to have achieved Stage One status are: the Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association (VBRA); the Ombudsman for Estate Agents Company Ltd (OEA); the Direct Selling Association (DSA); and the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA).

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