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Aims of the Whitegoods Trade Association Code of Practice.

We appreciate that it is not always straight forward for a consumer to make an informed choice as to the suitability of the services and standards being offered by an appliance repairer.
Quite understandably, many customers do not possess a thorough knowledge of how their appliances operate and equally, many repairers are unable to completely secure the confidence of the customers when they carry out a service or repair.
The purpose of this Code is to provide consumers with a clear guide as to the standards and practices that a WTA member will adhere to and upon this basis, we trust, the consumer can make an informed and favourable decision to use a Whitegoods Trade Association member.
WTA members are required to comply with the provisions of this Code; these provisions specify how a variety of customer handling measures and trade practices are to be conducted to the benefit of the customer. Furthermore, each WTA member is required to fulfil all relevant statutory and legal requirements, in particular those relating to Trading Standards, Health and Safety, Environmental Protection and Employment.
All WTA members and staff will receive training which enables the provisions of this Code to be put into practice, thus ensuring that the best possible service to the consumer is provided.
We also appreciate that despite the best efforts and intentions of the WTA, it is possible that a customer may nevertheless feel dissatisfied with the service they have received. Our Code, therefore, includes procedures to enable such situations to be dealt with fairly, speedily and at minimal cost.
The procedures outlined in this Code are additional to the legal rights assured to the consumer and the content of this Code is not intended to detract from such laws and their remedies.

Services Available from the Whitegoods Trade Association.

A WTA member will provide the following:

• General fault finding and problem identification. For example, work related to electronics and mechanical and systems on domestic appliances.
• In addition to the above, WTA members will also offer services related to:
• Cosmetic faults
• Mechanical faults
• Electrical faults

Please contact your local WTA member to determine the full range of services available.

Best Working Practices of the WTA.

This section of the Code explains the operational standards and procedures that WTA members will employ to ensure customers receive a proficient level of care and attention.

Customer Care

WTA members will:
• Not discriminate for any reason and will treat all customers with courtesy, respect and fairness.
• Make every effort to understand the customer’s requirements and expectations, and will not recommend or carry out work which is unnecessary or unnecessarily expensive.
• Prior to the commencement of work, ensure that the customer fully understands and agrees to the work which is to be carried out. That is, the content of the work, the parts required, the overall costs including VAT and warranty coverage.
• In the case of vulnerable or disadvantaged customers, demonstrate the highest level of patience, understanding, care and helpfulness to ensure that the customer has access to and is able to make a balanced and informed choice of services and/or products.
• Not use any high pressure selling techniques to carry out work, but will inform the customer of any action that in their opinion is to be recommended on the grounds of safety, reliability or simply good customer care.
• To be contactable by phone, fax and email.
• Carry a minimum of 2 million pounds public liability insurance.
• WTA members will be signed up to the Code of Practice as a condition of membership.

Costs and Charges

WTA members will:
• Offer and, if required, provide customers with a detailed written estimate that includes the cost of parts, labour, any other costs or services and VAT.
• Prior to commencement, seek customer authorisation for any work or costs that become apparent during the work phase but were not previously agreed.
• In the event of diagnostics work, provide costs prior to the commencement of work.

Completion Time

WTA members will:
• Provide the customer with a realistic completion time.
• Use a formal diary or management booking system to manage ongoing and future repairs.
• If a delay becomes unavoidable, give the customer as much notice as possible so as to allow the customer to agree alternative completion arrangements or to exercise the cancellation rights afforded by this Code.

Displaced Parts

WTA members will:
• Make available upon request parts removed or replaced, for customer inspection.

Invoicing

WTA members will:
• Provide an invoice which clearly shows as appropriate, details of labour charges, parts replaced and any consumables used.
• Ensure that the content and value of the final invoice will correspond to those details previously quoted, subject to additional work being authorised by the customer.
• Include on the final invoice recommendations or observations regarding the need for further work or concerns related to safety aspects.

Warranty (Guarantee)

WTA members will:
• Guarantee their work for a minimum of 6 Months parts and Labour.
• Respect and abide by the statutory rights afforded to customers by law.
• Provide customers with clear and accurate details of the warranty coverage before and after the completion of work.

After Sales Service

WTA members will:
• Respond promptly and effectively to any enquiries from customers relating to work they previously carried out.
• Investigate and rectify queries or problems associated with the original repair, wherever possible at no cost.
• Prior to the commencement of any additional work, discuss and agree with the customer any charges which have become apparent.
• Seek at all times to minimise any additional charges and ensure these charges are proportional to the original repair.

Workmanship / Service Call

WTA members will:
• Adhere to current Health & Safety requirements as stipulated in law.
• Make their best attempt to rectify the customer’s appliance on the first visit negating the need for a further service call.
• Always leave the customer’s appliance is a safe condition with no danger to the customer. If this requires the disconnection of the appliance then the engineer undertakes that responsibility of disconnection and documents this clearly as well as appraising the customer.
• After repairs the appliance is checked for function (specification test) and that it is in a safe condition for the customer to use.
• Wherever possible the appliance will be replaced back into situ as was or the customer fully appraised of the reason/s that this is not possible.
• Any used parts and packaging will be left tidy for inspection and correct disposal by the customer, in line with current legislation.

Spare Parts

WTA members will:
• Any spares required to be ordered, shall be ordered within two working days of the visit.
• Any information of delays with a spares order notified to the repairer will be relayed to the customer as soon as possible.
• Customers will not be charged for spares that they did not authorize and specifically request.
• Customers will not be charged for missing or damaged spares.

Commercial Practices of WTA members

This section of the Code describes how some important legal and commercial
Measures are handled by the WTA in order to give further support to its customers.

Contract Terms

WTA members will:
• Comply with the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999. This ensures that the rights and obligations of the customer and the WTA member will be balanced and that contracts are presented in plain, easy to understand language.

Cancellation Rights

WTA members will:
• Allow the customer to cancel the repair/service agreement at any time, in writing, subject to any legal right to cancel the agreement without liability.
• Hold the customer liable for no more than any reasonable costs already incurred up to the time of cancellation. These costs may include labour and parts for work already completed plus the cost of other parts or services ordered or obtained but which cannot be cancelled, returned or resold.
• Where a repair/service agreement is cancelled, always minimise any costs to the customer.

Prepayments

WTA members will:
• In the event of a prepayment or deposit being made, provide a clear receipt which details the value of the payment made and the exact nature of the product and/or services that this payment relates to.
• Confirm to the customer how such a deposit or prepayment is protected by the WTA in the unlikely event that the WTA member ceases to trade.

Advertising & Promotion

WTA members will:
• Be legal, decent, honest and truthful and will comply with the British Codes of Advertising and Sales Promotion and any other relevant code of advertising and all other statutory requirements.


WTA registered retailer

WTA registered retailers will:


• Offer products and services, which will be clearly priced. Price tickets will clearly show the selling price.
• Give sound professional advice to assist the customer in reaching a satisfactory decision as to which appliance they wish to purchase.
• Attempt to be competitive on price and be truthful when offering price reductions for whatever reason.
• Offer a delivery and installation service where applicable or offer to arrange such service.
• Display a current list of delivery and installation charges for the customer to see.
• When offering any delivery / installation, charge a fair price for the work to be carried out.
• Display any installation exclusions on the current delivery / installation list.
• Will, where applicable, at the time of delivery offer to unpack the appliance and remove the packaging at the customer’s request. Offer to dispose of the old appliance in line with current WEEE legislation or, or advise the customer accordingly if unable to do so.
• Install the appliance so long as the installation conforms to current legislation.
• When installing new appliance, offer to dispose of the old appliance in line with current WEEE legislation or, advise the customer accordingly if unable to do so.
• Return to the customers home to resolve any installation faults, either rectify free of charge or advise customer of any remedial works which need to be carried out by a third party.
• At the customers request arrange for a service engineer to call should a fault occur within the guarantee period.
• Should a complaint arise, this should be resolved either by the retailer, or with the help of trading standards and / or the WTA.
• Comply with current legislation relating to Distance Selling if the retailer sells via any means other than face to face.

Handling Customer Complaints

The WTA member and the WTA have a strong commitment to customer satisfaction and therefore would like to work with the customer to resolve any complaint fairly and quickly. Should, despite these efforts, the complaint remain unresolved, then the customer has the option of pursuing independent arbitration. This section of the Code describes the complaint handling procedure.


Step 1: Complaining to the WTA member

• Should a customer feel dissatisfied then we would politely request that the customer complains first of all directly to the WTA member concerned. This may be done either in person, by phone or in writing.
• If a customer wishes to write to the WTA member but is unsure of whom to contact, then the WTA member will confirm the postal address and relevant contact name. If requested, the WTA member will supply this information in writing to the customer.
• Should the customer prefer to pursue a complaint through another person or a recognised consumer organisation like Trading Standards, Citizens Advice etc, then the WTA member will continue to cooperate fully to resolve the complaint.
• The WTA member will have in place a clear and accessible mechanism for recording and dealing with customer complaints. The responsibility for dealing with complaints will rest with the WTA members Principal or another nominated individual. Details of the appropriate person to contact.
• The WTA member will acknowledge written complaints within 5 working days of receipt.
• The WTA member will seek to resolve any complaint within 21 days of its receipt.


Step 2: Conciliation by the Whitegoods Trade Association.

• Should the WTA member be unable to resolve the complaint, then the WTA is willing to provide a free of charge conciliation service. That is, the WTA will work with the customer and the WTA member to resolve the customer’s complaint speedily and fairly. Customers should note that this service does not prevent them from seeking redress through other legal means.
• To use this service the customer is invited to contact the WTA directly on 0845 226 1272. Alternatively, if a customer wishes to write to the WTA directly then the address details of the WTA may be found at the back of the Code.
• In the case of customer telephone calls, the WTA will acknowledge the customer’s call and record details of the complaint immediately. The WTA will also discuss the nature and content of the complaint at that time or contact the customer within the next 5 working days to discuss the complaint.
• In the case of written complaints, The WTA will confirm in writing to the customer that the complaint has been received within 5 working days of its arrival at the WTA. Should the WTA require a written account of the complaint and/or need other information to investigate the complaint then the WTA will ask the customer to provide it.
• The WTA will endeavour to resolve the customer’s complaint within 21 working days of its receipt. The recommendations made by the WTA to resolve the complaint will be binding on the WTA member; however the customer remains free to reject the proposal made by WTA.

 

Step 3: Independent Arbitration

• Arbitration enables an independent expert to review information from the customer and the WTA member and based on this information; provide a ruling on how the complaint is to be resolved. The ruling of the Arbitrator is legally binding on the WTA member and the customer. Irrespective of whether or not the customer and/or the WTA member agree with the ruling, it is final and cannot be challenged.
• This Independent Arbitration service is only available if the customer has sought to resolve the complaint using the WTA conciliation service that is explained in step 2.
• Following on from the WTA conciliation service, the WTA will advise the customer in writing of its final conclusion regarding the customer’s complaint. Should the complaint remain unresolved then, providing no more than six months have elapsed since the receipt of the final conclusion letter from the WTA, the customer may use the independent arbitration service.
• This service is provided free of charge to the customer. However, the Arbitrator may make a financial award against the customer where the customer is considered to have been unreasonable or caused unnecessary expense and/or inconvenience to the WTA member.
• The independent arbitration service is provided by DRS-CIArb, a division of The Institute of Chartered Arbitrators. This organisation is wholly independent of the WTA and the WTA member. Customers must contact The Institute of Chartered Arbitrators directly to obtain the application form, their contact details appear at the back of this Code.

Customer Participation

Customers of the WTA network have a real opportunity to help make the WTA Code of Practice work to best possible effect, also to help the WTA monitor and improve the performance of individual WTA members. This section details how customers may assist.

Customer Opinion and Feedback

It is important for WTA members and the WTA to evaluate how successful we have been in achieving customer satisfaction. We strongly appreciate that customer comment, both good and bad, will help greatly in the development and application of this Code.
• Customers may contact the WTA directly to obtain a satisfaction card; contact details of the WTA appear at the end of the Code.

Customer Requirements

When a customer is arranging a repair and/or service, The WTA would respectfully remind customers that they can help the WTA member to meet their requirements by providing the fullest possible information.
Therefore, the WTA would kindly ask the customer to:
• Give as much information as possible, e.g. symptoms or concerns, or any previous repair history of the appliance.
• Feel free to fully discuss and understand the nature of the work that is to be undertaken.
• Be clear and agree any specific or special requirements that the WTA member is expected to meet.
• When discussing your requirements with the WTA member, please tell the telephone operator if your appliance is covered by a manufacturer’s warranty or an extended breakdown warranty. Please also advise the telephone operator of any policy documents that you have. This information is important since the WTA member will need to understand the conditions of this warranty so its terms may be adhered to.

Responsibilities of the WTA.

This section of the Code describes the responsibilities the WTA has to ensure that WTA members follow the provisions of this Code and also further develop the Code so that it remains of benefit to the consumer.

Monitoring and Compliance with this Code

To ensure that the WTA Code of Practice is adhered to, the WTA will:
• Audit the Best Working Practices, Technical and Customer provisions of each WTA member annually.
• Review and assess customer complaints and customer satisfaction feedback data to determine any need to revise this Code or take action against a WTA member. Our scheme allows for a variety of measures to occur, these range from actions to improve WTA members performance through to expulsion of a WTA member from the WTA network.

• Endeavour to keep informed of the changes in consumer expectations, Best Working Practices and/or legislation. To this end the WTA will consult with consumer bodies to review the validity of the Code’s content and application.

Disciplinary Procedures

To ensure that compliance of this Code is enforced, the WTA will:
• Subject those incidents of non-compliance which cannot be adequately addressed through the WTA quality development process to disciplinary measures.
• Apply disciplinary measures that will be proportional to the nature and circumstances of the non- compliance. These will range from a detailed review discussion with the WTA member, through to expulsion of the WTA member from the WTA network.

• In cases where disciplinary action resulted from a customer complaint, inform the customer directly of the action taken.
• Ensure that all disciplinary measures taken by the WTA are independently verified to ensure that such measures are applied on an objective, fair and uniform basis.

Contacts

Whitegoods Trade Association
Unit 5 / 6 Bonnyton Ind Est, Munro Place,
Kilmarnock
KA1 2NP

(Revision Date: 06/08/2010)

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