Frequently Asked Questions

What is Buy With Confidence?

The Buy With Confidence scheme was first launched by Hampshire Trading Standards in 1999. At around the same time, Devon Trading Standards initiated a similar scheme called 'CustomerFirst'. The two schemes became successful, and were also adopted by neighbouring Trading Standards Services. As the schemes grew larger and began sharing information, it became clear that there were benefits to working together under the same rules and branding.

The two schemes merged formally in 2008 as 'Buy With Confidence', by which time over 20 local authorities were participating. Buy With Confidence is the largest scheme of its kind nationally and continues to expand its geographical coverage. A number of Trading Standards Services have joined recently and you can check whether your local area is participating by checking our list of participating local authorities.

The intention of Buy With Confidence is to provide a register of businesses that have been thoroughly vetted and approved by Trading Standards. Buy With Confidence is independently run by the local authority Trading Standards department, is not run for profit and all funds received to the scheme from membership fees are ploughed back into the scheme to further it’s continuation, development and promotion.’

How do businesses become approved?

Each member business will have undergone a strict vetting procedure before being granted membership. This includes research into their trading history, financial background, a criminal records check where appropriate and a thorough audit of their business systems made by a Trading Standards Officer. Each business also provides access to their customer records and a selection are chosen at random by the auditing officer to write to and get their opinion on the service they received.

Membership is not given lightly and not everyone gets in.

Businesses must have been trading for at least six months before they can apply and must demonstrate to the auditing officer that they are trading in a fair, honest and legal manner with a customer-friendly service. All applicants are required to acknowledge that they are willing to be bound by the terms and conditions of the scheme; breaches of the terms and conditions may lead to removal from Buy With Confidence.

I need some work doing – how can I find Buy With Confidence members in my area?

Simple, go to the Find a Business page on this website; put in your postcode and select the business type you want e.g. 'Building Contractors', press 'Search' and a list of businesses appears for you to review. From this list you can view a businesses profile page, read customer reviews, find their location with the interactive map, send the business an email and download the list to a pdf so you can print it off for future reference or to share with others.

If you're not sure what category a business might come under search 'By Trade' to use the A to Z trade listings or if you know a companies name but want to check their information before you contact them you can search by name; fuzzy matched options will appear under the search box for your convenience.

More businesses are applying all the time so if you can't find anyone in your area it might be that no one in that trade sector has applied yet in your locality. If you use a business who isn't a Buy With Confidence member and you have a good experience recommend them for the scheme via the 'Contact Us' page.

Does a business continue to be monitored once they are accepted onto the scheme?

It’s more that just a feedback scheme.  A successful application to Buy With Confidence is by no means the end of a member’s association with Trading Standards. Buy With Confidence is more than just a logo; our businesses are able to use the branding ‘Trading Standards Approved’ and we want to make sure they continue to live up to that statement after they’ve been accepted.

Once a business has been approved onto the scheme the managing authority continues to monitor their continued commitment to the Buy With Confidence terms and conditions and ethos of the scheme through a number of methods.

We monitor our intelligence databases and will engage with a member business if we note any enquiries of concern; we work with our members to make sure they understand the legal requirements placed upon them by UK law and we provide advice and guidance on how to be compliant through training events, newsletters, guidance notes, re-audits and other open source information.

All of our members are subject to customer feedback – whether they provide a feedback card, or now customers can leave feedback online via the Rate a Business page, we scrutinise each piece of feedback a business receives and will take appropriate action if any problems become apparent. Please note feedback is only published on this site if the customer gives their permission and leaves us their details (however this personal information is not made public) – this helps us to ensure that the feedback a business receives is genuine and verifiable.

Businesses are also subject to re-audit. Each business can expect to be re-visited by a Trading Standards Officer during the life of their membership; this may be routine, at the businesses request or in response to any concerns we may have about the business or a particular business sector.

We have high expectations of our members and want to protect the reputation of our brand; we work with our businesses through a number of engagement methods including member training, social media, networking events, newsletters, surveys and more to make sure that we are helping each other to continue the success of Buy With Confidence.

How can I leave feedback for a business and see how others have rated their service?

All of our businesses are subject to customer feedback. This helps other prospective customers get a personal recommendation from real people who have used the member businesses’ services before and it helps us to monitor the businesses’ ongoing commitment to the high standards Buy With Confidence demands.

You can leave feedback for a business using two methods.

Either leave feedback directly through this website using the 'Rate a Business' tool; make sure you link your feedback to the correct business and leave us your details if you want your feedback to be published for others to view (please note your personal contact information will not be published).

Or ask the business to provide you with a feedback card; you complete the questions on the card, leave your comments and send it back in the post direct to the managing authority who will upload your feedback to the website for you.

All feedback is displayed on the businesses profile page with helpful graphical illustrations of their average ratings and customer comments listed by date. To see a businesses feedback find them using the Find a Business tool.

Some businesses may be very new to the scheme and might not have any feedback yet – find their joining date on their profile page using the Find a Business tool and if you use them be sure to leave them some feedback for others to read.

I'm a business and I'd like to join Buy With Confidence

We’re always looking for more businesses to join the scheme. If you think you’ve got what it takes to become trading standards approved you can submit your application online today.

You will need to redirect yourself to the business homepage by clicking here. From this page you can complete the online application form under the How to Apply tab.

Please make sure that you've read the schemes terms and conditions before you apply; please note that we cannot accept applications from businesses who have been trading for less than six months.

You can see whether Buy With Confidence is operating in your area using this link but if it is not, you can apply under the 'Other' category on the application form as Buy With Confidence operates nationally. However, if you would like to get in contact with your local scheme operators, or if you are a national business, please make further enquiries using the contact us page before you apply online and someone will get back to you to discuss your application.

All applicants should be aware that application and membership fees apply; more information can be found in the business section of this website.

I've got a problem with a Buy With Confidence member – what can I do?

Very occasionally things may go wrong and you may need some further support in sorting out any outstanding issues with a Buy With Confidence member as a result of your transaction with them.

We would ask that you please familiarise yourself with the limitations of the scheme and ensure that you have made the business member aware of your concerns to allow them the opportunity to respond.

Further advice and complaints about a business should be directed in the first instance to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 who will share the details with the Trading Standards Service in your area.

If you feel that the member business has breached the scheme’s terms and conditions you can bring it to our attention using the Make a Complaint form from this website.

We hope that the matter will be quickly resolved however if you are still dissatisfied with the outcome after you have contacted the business then in certain circumstances we may be able to offer impartial mediation services to help bring the matter to a conclusion.