Buy With Confidence Terms & Conditions


(Last Major Update: November 2021)

Introduction

The Buy With Confidence Scheme (BWC) is a business approval scheme operated by the Buy With Confidence Partnership.

In order to maintain the integrity of the BWC scheme it is imperative that all of our business members read and agree to be bound by the terms and conditions of the scheme; applicants will be asked to confirm this when they apply.

We expect our members to observe the terms and conditions of the scheme for the life of their membership; any breaches or alleged breaches may result in disciplinary action including suspension or removal from BWC.

Consumers should be aware that whilst BWC has very thorough approval standards and can offer a degree of support in the event of a consumer complaint, there are some limitations to the assurances that BWC can provide. Buy With Confidence is not a product approval scheme. The full limitations can be read here: www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk/limitations

Scheme terms and conditions will be periodically updated on this website as required and members will be notified of any significant changes via their last known email address or postal address. Members should also ensure that they check the membership terms for any changes on renewal of membership. Continuation of membership will be deemed to constitute acceptance by the BWC member of the published membership terms and conditions available on the BWC website on the date of renewal.

As well as the Terms & Conditions below, we strongly recommend applicants and Buy With Confidence members read the following guidance documents, as these will be used by BWC Scheme Operators alongside these Terms & Conditions in making decisions about suitability for membership and whether breaches have occurred:

Buy With Confidence Membership Terms & Conditions

Last major update: November 2021

These Terms and Conditions are specifically aimed at businesses either applying for BWC membership, or existing approved members of the BWC scheme, and should be read together with the associated Guidance Notes. The Guidance Notes form a part of the terms and conditions; in the event of any conflict or discrepancy between these Terms and Conditions and the Guidance Notes, these Terms and Conditions shall prevail.

The Guidance Notes serve to provide further detail as to the operation of the scheme, definitions of terms used, interpretation and specific requirements relating to identified matters. They also provide guidance for businesses and awareness for consumers. Consumers who need support with an issue relating to a BWC member should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service in the first instance.

Definitions

Administering Authority/Managing Authority/Scheme Operator

  • The local authority in which the business is based; or
  • if the business is based in a local authority that does not administer BWC, the authority which agrees to conduct the relevant audits or manages the scheme in that area; or
  • where the business is granted membership on a national or regional basis, the local authority managing the membership along with the Buy With Confidence Partnership

Audit
A due diligence exercise conducted by Us following a prospective members application to join BWC

BWC
The Buy With Confidence scheme

Buy With Confidence Logo
The Buy With Confidence trademark certification (registered number 2457129) and/or the words Trading Standards Approved and/or the name of any local authority used in a manner associated with the Trademark certification

Buy With Confidence Partnership
A collaboration between Trading Standards South West, Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service, and Hampshire County Council Trading Standards Service who are jointly responsible for the ownership of BWC

Cold Call
Visiting residential addresses or calling them on the telephone, without a specific request from the resident

Community Interest
We apply a community interest test as BWC exists to promote the interests of both consumers and businesses and in doing so reflects on the reputation of both business members and local authorities. We are therefore likely to decline applications from businesses where:

  • There is no demonstrable benefit to consumers or other customers in the goods or services being supplied by the business.
  • The goods or services offer an alleged benefit which is not capable of being substantiated.
  • The goods or services being offered cannot be lawfully supplied in the UK.
  • Services offered are of a broadly financial nature that rely on the future value of goods or land, speculation on commodity, shares or other products, claims management, or credit provision unless the products, business and sales representatives are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority or similar regulator.
  • The goods or services being offered are such that the BWC scheme, local authority or other business members would incur a risk to their reputation by association.
  • The goods or services being offered are of a religious, spiritual, political or personal belief nature such that membership might be construed as endorsing that religion or belief.
  • The applicant is offering a service in direct competition with BWC which is likely to cause confusion to the public about the extent of our membership or any third party association.

We/Us/Our
The administering/managing authority or administering authorities acting collectively or Buy With Confidence Partnership as the context determines

You
The business member be that a sole trader, partnership, limited company or any other legal entity

Conditions of Membership

1. General Conditions

1.1. Scheme membership is available to all business types operating lawfully and in the ‘community interest’ who are located in England, Scotland or Wales. Where all or part of the applicants’ services are commissioned by or sub-contracted to a business located and/or registered outside of these geographical areas we reserve the right to decline membership.

1.2. Membership of the scheme is subject to initial and continuing compliance with these terms and conditions; guidance notes will also be considered to aid our decision-making process regarding suitability for membership.

1.3 Applicants and scheme members must respond promptly, fully and truthfully to our requests for information. To establish that an applicant meets the Terms and Conditions of membership we will conduct an audit. If we are unable to complete the audit, either because we are unable to obtain satisfactory evidence of compliance, because we are unable to complete a satisfactory visit to the business premises, because the nature of the business or way it operates makes it very difficult to complete an audit, or because the information requested has not been supplied, we will decline membership.

1.4 Where businesses are found to have provided dishonest or misleading information or have omitted material information about their organisation or trading history as part of their application or during the life of their membership, we reserve the right to immediately reject the application or terminate the membership. No refund will be offered.

1.5 We will seek to monitor compliance on a continuing basis, this may include tracking any consumer complaints and enquiries received by us, Citizens Advice or any Regulator or body with whom you claim membership or are required to be registered with. We may also review financial information, review county court judgements, check any third-party membership claims you make with the approving body, or consult with any other regulator or statutory body relevant to your organisational sector. By applying for and continuing BWC membership, you give your permission for BWC to make appropriate background checks to satisfy us of your suitability for membership. You also agree that you have read, understand and agree to our privacy policy. NB this list of audit checks is not exhaustive.

1.6 The application fee must be paid before membership will be considered. The offer of membership will be withdrawn if the application or annual membership fees are not promptly paid within the dates stated. Application fees are non-refundable.

1.7 Membership is not transferable. Where the legal status or controlling mind of the entity granted membership changes we may terminate that membership. It is the responsibility of the member business to notify the scheme operator of any changes, including fundamental changes to what the business does, as soon as reasonably practicable.

1.8 The managing authority reserves the right to refuse membership to any applicant which it feels does not satisfy the criteria laid down in the Terms and Conditions. It may, as an alternative to refusal, impose certain conditions that need to be satisfied prior to confirmation of membership.

2 Member Commitments

BWC members commit to:

2.1 Operating in an honest, fair, professional, and open manner which is in the ‘community interest’.

2.2 Providing excellent customer service at all times.

2.3 Only providing goods and services for which they are qualified, experienced, competent, and suitably equipped.

2.4 Complying with all legislation, statutory codes of practice or requirements of any statutory regulator applicable to their business activities including any need to register either their business or individual members of staff with a regulatory body.

2.5 Providing clear information, in writing if requested by the customer, as to the cost or how the cost will be calculated, and description of goods and services to be provided prior to supplying the goods or starting delivery of services, and how the consumer can cancel the contract (if applicable).

2.6 Having adequate procedures, including the training of relevant staff, to ensure the safety, consumer protection and well-being of customers and other persons.

2.7 Maintaining appropriate insurance to cover the activities undertaken including public liability insurance.

2.8 Not engaging in any cold calling activities or high pressure selling.

2.9 Ensuring that all persons employed in their business delivering services in or around a customers home; or involving unsupervised contact with vulnerable adults or children; provide a Basic Disclosure Certificate indicating that they do not have any previous convictions which would adversely affect their suitability to work in such a role.

2.10 Conducting themselves at all times in an appropriate and professional manner and not acting in any way which could bring themselves, the BWC scheme or any associated organisations into disrepute.

2.11 Abiding by the principles and any applicable requirements of the Equality Act 2010 and not treating others in a discriminatory way.

2.12 Responding appropriately to all customer complaints and maintaining a suitable record of complaints received and actions taken. This record must be made available to BWC on request.

2.13 Providing customers with access to the customer feedback facility as operated by the local authority scheme administrator and responding to any critical feedback in a prompt and professional manner.

2.14 Engaging proactively and promptly with BWC if a complaint is received.

2.15 Complying with guidance issued on use of the Buy With Confidence logo and any other material made available to members of BWC. This includes not giving the impression that a particular product is BWC Trading Standards Approved.

2.16 Acknowledging that, for the duration of this agreement, they have been granted by Us a revocable, non-exclusive, non-transferable licence to use the BWC Logo strictly in accordance with these Terms and Conditions and Guidance Notes.

2.17 Being fully liable and responsible at all times for the actions and omissions of all employees and subcontractors.

2.18 Ensuring that their employees or sub-contractors (as appropriate) are aware of these requirements and agree to abide by them.

2.19 Advising BWC without delay of any change in circumstances relating to their business or membership suitability.

2.20 Responding promptly, fully and truthfully to BWC’s requests for information.

3 BWC Commitment

We commit to:

3.1 Making appropriate arrangements to administer membership of BWC.

3.2 Providing guidance to assess the suitability for membership of applicants and existing members.

3.3 Processing membership applications via the BWC website.

3.4 Providing appropriate methods to facilitate payment of membership fees.

3.5 Auditing applicants and conducting routine monitoring of existing members.

3.6 Providing the Terms and Conditions of membership applicable to businesses including notification of amendments where they are significant.

3.7 Providing a BWC scheme website.

3.8 Providing a listing for business members on the website which members can update.

3.9 Providing a mechanism to receive, moderate and publish customer feedback.

3.10 Responding promptly and objectively to all complaints about the scheme or one of its members.

3.11 Offering a mediation service to help resolve complex consumer complaints once the businesses internal procedures have been exhausted (NB this service is not available in all areas of the country).

3.12 Providing members with a certificate of membership.

3.13 Promoting the scheme to the public.

3.14 Making available information, advice and guidance to assist businesses to comply with the terms and conditions of membership. Please note, the amount of bespoke advice provided to members is subject to our Fair Use policy.

3.15 Making available information and advice to assist business members to identify legislation, statutory controls and relevant codes of practice applicable to their activities.

3.16 Providing a logo and other promotional materials, subject to conditions, for member use to promote their affiliation with BWC.

3.17 In making any such arrangements BWC may enter into agreements with another council or other body to carry out all, or some, of these functions.

4 Breaches of the Terms and Conditions

4.1 It is the BWC Members’ responsibility to ensure that they always comply with these terms and conditions; if we become aware that a member is not doing so we will notify them.

4.2 We reserve the right to impose sanctions on Our members, including suspension of membership, whilst enquiries are conducted into any alleged breach of these membership terms and conditions.

4.3 Where we can identify actions to correct a minor breach of the terms and conditions of membership within a reasonable period we will advise the member of any actions they must take and the dates by which such actions must be completed.

4.4 We may, if breaches or alleged breaches raise safeguarding concerns, or are significantly detrimental to consumers or other persons, suspend or terminate scheme membership with immediate effect.

4.5 We may, if we are unable to reach agreement with the Member as to what action is needed to comply with the terms and conditions of membership, or, if the Member fails to take the agreed action; suspend or terminate the membership.

4.6 Where there is evidence of criminal or other breaches of legislation, the application of a membership sanction is NOT dependent on a successful prosecution of that business.

4.7 Failure to pay fees due will result in termination of membership.

4.8 If we terminate or suspend a membership we will remove the business from the BWC website.

4.9 If we terminate membership or if a Member elects to withdraw from BWC, the right to use the BWC logo or claim affiliation with the Scheme will be withdrawn with immediate effect; continuing to use the logo or give the impression of continuing affiliation after membership has ceased may constitute a criminal offence. All reference to membership of the scheme must be removed immediately from websites, marketing materials, vehicles and any other business documents. If a business is temporarily suspended we will provide advice regarding any conditions relating to use of the logo or promotion of membership during the suspension period.

4.10 We reserve the right to publish the identity of businesses suspended or removed from the scheme.

5 Complaints and Appeals

5.1 Complaints about the BWC scheme, including any disagreement with actions taken or decisions made to decline membership, suspend or terminate an existing membership, or complaint about the application of the fair use policy should be addressed in the first instance to the BWC Member’s local authority scheme operator. If you do not know who the local authority scheme operator is please address your complaint to admin@buywithconfidence.gov.uk or send via the post to Buy With Confidence c/o HOTSW Trading Standards, Devon County Council, County Hall, Topsham Road, Exeter, EX2 4QD and BWC will forward it to the appropriate administrator.

5.2 If your complaint concerns a decision to refuse membership to the BWC scheme or the application of a sanction in relation to an existing member you have the right to appeal against that decision. Appeals should be lodged within three months of the decision being communicated to you and addressed as per term 5.1.

5.3 We will aim to provide an initial acknowledgement to your dispute or appeal in writing within five working days along with an indication of proposed next steps.

5.4 Once the matter is concluded, if you then tell us that you are not satisfied with the response received we will provide details of the council’s corporate complaints process or other means of appeal.

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