How Does It Work?
We encourage customers to provide reviews of our members using the feedback forms (where provided) or via the BWC website. We check the reviews we receive to satisfy ourselves the comments are genuine and will then publish them on the website. We will take appropriate steps to verify the authenticity of the feedback we receive. Feedback informs potential customers about their purchasing decisions and helps BWC to ensure that our members are consistently providing good customer service.
The overwhelming majority of feedback we receive is very positive but in the unlikely event a customer has problems with one of our members it is important we know about it. Negative feedback will be published. As reviews are based on a customer’s opinion rather than a legal interpretation of whether a business acted correctly/within the law, they will be published and remain live unless they are offensive, legally defamatory or are provably and substantially factually inaccurate (with the onus being on the business to prove they are inaccurate).
We understand that there are very often two differing perspectives when there is a difference of opinion and so if a negative review is received we do give the business a published right of reply (subject to the same caveats as the initial feedback). We advise that business think carefully about the nature and tone of this reply and see it through the eyes of a potential new customer, it can often be better to acknowledge the consumers concerns and commit to resolving them rather than being defensive or appearing argumentative. The consumer will be given a final right of reply.
While all Local Authorities who run Buy With Confidence will verify and publish feedback entered by customers into the website, not all areas currently upload feedback received via physical cards. You can contact your administering authority to confirm how they are currently handling feedback cards. If there is no Feedback listed it means either physical feedback cards are not being uploaded or that no feedback has been received about the business. Please note that Buy With Confidence is primarily a Trading Standards vetting and monitoring scheme. Customer feedback is provided for extra information and monitoring purposes only.
Complaints about BWC Members
It is our experience that even the best run businesses will occasionally receive customer complaints and queries. Our best advice is that you respond as soon as practicable in a calm and professional manner but avoid being rushed into making a quick judgement.
Very often consumers approach us, Citizens Advice or another agency to check their rights before speaking to the business. Consumers are normally first advised to talk to the business if they have not already done so in the hope that the problem can be resolved without further intervention.
If the matter is very complex, or perhaps the consumer does not understand the advice given or is unable to act on their own behalf, they may be directed to contact BWC and we may contact you on the customers behalf.
Where we receive customer complaints we will contact our member and provide you with advice as to whether a consumer complaint is justified in law but it is ultimately your decision as to what action you should take to remedy it.
If there is evidence of a member failing to act properly when dealing with consumer complaints, or the numbers are excessive relative to the size and type of your business, we will intervene and seek to require you to meet your obligations and/or conduct a review of your suitability for membership.
Failure to respond appropriately to customer complaints will be regarded as a breach of the Terms and Conditions of membership.
We will expect you to respond to customer complaints in an appropriate manner and to maintain a suitable record of complaints received and actions taken. The manner in which you respond, how you respond, the records kept and so on will depend on the size and type of your business.
If you are a member of a trade or professional body, state that you comply with a Code of Practice, or are regulated by a statutory body such as the Financial Conduct Authority, then you should at all times comply with their relevant customer complaints procedures.
However, at a minimum, we will expect you to demonstrate that you:
- Record all complaints received
2. As a minimum acknowledge all complaints within 5 working days
3. Actively seek to resolve complaints, and do not actively attempt to limit or undermine a customer’s rights
4. Record outcomes
We will expect that complaints are resolved promptly but we also recognise that finding an outcome acceptable to all parties can sometimes take a while. If you are unable to reach a solution you should inform your customer, preferably in writing, stating what you are prepared to do and giving a date by which the customer can accept this offer.
We would anticipate that most complaints would be resolved within 28 days. If this proves to be insufficient time then it would be good practice to update your customer on progress, identify what you are prepared to offer, and if possible, give a date by which you expect to be able to reach a solution.
Help Available From Trading Standards
We may offer you advice on how to respond to very complex individual customer complaints but would expect you to deal with more routine matters without our help.
You can refer customers to us by getting them to fill in the complaints form on the website, or via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 (please try to ensure they mention you are a Buy With Confidence business) but again we would expect you to be able to resolve routine matters.
We may agree to offer to mediate between the parties involved but unless we specifically say so this will not be a legally binding arbitration service.
Where we provide you with guidance in respect of specific customer complaints we will:
- Seek to agree a common history of events and facts
- Identify matters where there is no common ground
- We may, in practical terms, suggest a reasonable solution
- Where we suggest a solution this cannot in law be binding on either you or your customer as ultimately it is for the court to decide where the responsibility for resolving the issues lies. However there are considerable numbers of previously decided cases and we will refer to these when giving guidance
- Sometimes it can be unclear where the legal liability lies and if so we will tell you.
If your business has a number of employees and deals with large numbers of customers then you should consider nominating one or two specific members of staff to deal with consumer complaints. If you do this it is good practice to encourage all other staff to acknowledge complaints, take basic details and be able to say who will contact the customer back and roughly when.
Should you require advice on suitable record keeping and processes please ask us.
It is good practice to periodically review the nature of complaints received to see if there are things that regularly cause problems. You can then look to solve the cause of the problem rather than dealing with each individual matter which will save both you and your customers’ time and money.
In the event that you are unable to resolve a complaint and either you or your customer decides to take the matter to court we will expect you to comply with any subsequent judgement.
In the event that we have offered mediation and a decision is taken to progress to legal proceedings (by either party) all mediation will immediately cease. A decision will be taken on whether it is appropriate to suspend the businesses membership whilst the litigation is underway, we will assess this on a case by case basis.