Pre-Membership/Application Guidance

Availability of Membership

Buy With Confidence aims to offer an inclusive policy towards all types of business operating lawfully and in the community interest within England, Scotland or Wales.

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:

Applications for membership to BWC can be made online at the Buy With Confidence website. The website is operated by the Buy With Confidence Partnership.

Applications received will be allocated to the local authority in which your business is based or the authority who manages the scheme in your area. Some authorities have arrangements with the Buy With Confidence Partnership by which some or all membership processes are carried out by the Partnership owned Central Hub; we will tell you if this is the case.

Membership Fees

Membership is subject to payment of the relevant fees and you may be required to pay the application and/or membership fee before we process your application. The Application Fee is a one-off fee used to help defer the significant cost of vetting and processing new applications to Buy With Confidence. Application fees are due before membership is granted and must be paid in full. It is normally non-refundable irrespective of whether the application is successful or not except at the sole discretion of the Trading Standards service processing the application.

If the application is successful there an annual fee ongoing for the life of the membership; your managing authority will tell you when this is due. Your commitment renews annually on the anniversary of your admission to the scheme at which time the cost of one year’s membership paid in advance becomes due. Some authorities may permit you to split the cost of your membership into monthly instalments, but we would remind you that your commitment is for a year’s membership, so in the event that you wish to withdraw from Buy With Confidence before your year’s membership expires, any outstanding balance will be due and will be invoiced with our standard payment terms. Fees are reviewed annually and may be subject to change.

You can find out more about the fees in your area here.

Regional, National and Larger Businesses

 If your business operates regionally or nationally across more than one local authority area, with a significant number of branches, or provides services over a very large geographic area, we will discuss with you how best to manage your application and support your membership. We may do this through our regional organisation, nominate one authority to act as a lead or a combination of this. We will discuss these arrangements with you, together with an appropriate fee.

In general the BWC managing authority for the area where your head office, registered limited company address or where the business’s senior decision-making staff are based, will be your administering authority. If your local authority does not directly offer BWC we will make alternative arrangements for ‘Central Hub’ administration.

Brokers, Agencies, Trade Associations and Similar Businesses

We do not discourage applications from businesses who operate as brokers, agencies or trade/professional associations or who predominantly sub-contract their work to other organisations, but there are some practical considerations which can make such applications difficult to process.

Buy With Confidence is a certification mark. It is designed to provide an assurance to the public that the member business will comply with the scheme requirements. This means that it must only be used in connection with the activities of the member business, and in the case of agencies, brokers etc this cannot be extended to include the activities of third parties identified and/or introduced by the BWC member to deliver goods and services to the ultimate consumer. We will require the applicant to demonstrate how they will indicate that the scheme membership applies solely to their activities as broker, agent etc and may decline membership if we are concerned that the public may be misled regarding the extent of the approval.

We would always require that a broker, agency, trade/professional association etc. placed a contractual requirement on any third party to comply with applicable legislation, codes of practice or statutory requirements. Further the third party must be contractually required to deliver the goods and services as agreed between the broker, agency, trade/professional association etc. and the consumer.

We would also expect any third party to comply with the objectives and principles of the Buy With Confidence and our terms and conditions of membership as far as applicable.

We may provide brokers, agencies, trade/professional associations and similar businesses with specific additional requirements as to the use of the Buy With Confidence logo and related promotional material so as to avoid confusion.

Where the applicant business is a trade/professional association who wishes to include the parent association and all of its business members within the BWC scheme please contact us for a bespoke package.

Sub-contractors and Commissioned Services

Businesses will always be fully liable and responsible for the actions and omissions of all sub-contractors or commissioned organisations. You will ensure that they comply, as far as practicable, with the requirements of your Buy With Confidence membership.

You should ensure that sub-contractors and commissioned organisations are provided with adequate information to ensure that the goods and services they provide comply with applicable legislation, codes of practice and contractual specifications.

Where businesses regularly sub-contract or commission work to the same restricted group of businesses we reserve the option to require all such businesses/persons to apply for membership so as to provide a wider benefit to consumers.

Businesses that regularly sub-contract or commission work to a restricted group should consider seeking advice as to the status of such arrangements and whether such arrangements amount to the creation of a partnership, an employee/employer contract or established other liabilities.

Sometimes the nature of the business or the way it operates, whilst perfectly legitimate and lawful, makes it very difficult to complete the membership audit. This can be a problem where the applicant business relies on sub-contractors, commissioned organisations, casual labour or acts as an agency in order to deliver services. In these instances BWC reserves the right to decline membership.

Pre-Membership Vetting

We will conduct multiple desk based vetting assessments of your business to ensure that you fully understand and meet the Terms and Conditions of membership. The application form identifies the checks we will make and in submitting the application you give us permission to make these checks. NB this list is not exhaustive, please contact us if you have any questions before applying.

We will make enquiries as to any previous trading history of the directors, owners or other persons with significant influence over the applicant business, plus the trading history of the business itself.

These checks will include the following, with particular emphasis on any adverse matters which resulted in consumer detriment, actual or a real risk of injury or harm and a disregard for compliance with legislation.

We will treat every application on its individual merits.