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BRC reacts to Consumer White Paper
Jul '09
The creation of a 'Consumer Advocate' is welcome if the post is genuinely intended to improve customers' understanding of their rights.

Reacting to the Government's Consumer White Paper, published (Thursday) the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said, an effective 'Consumer Advocate' could also help retailers by giving customers the information they need to resolve problems in the quickest, most efficient way.

But the 'Advocate' should be given an unambiguously independent status and the creation of the new post should be followed by a rationalisation of the confusing range of consumer education bodies which already includes the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Office of Fair Trading and Trading Standards.

British Retail Consortium Director General Stephen Robertson said: “Retailers strive to satisfy their customers. They are the lifeblood of the industry. Responsible retailers go well beyond the legal minimum to meet customers' needs and put things right if they go wrong.

“A 'Consumer Advocate' will only be worthwhile if it actually improves customer education and advice. It must not be just a gesture. The Government should make the role independent of campaigning bodies such as Consumer Focus, particularly if the 'Advocate' is given the power to bring collective legal cases. And there must now be a rationalisation of the current confusing range of customer education bodies.

“Most consumer problems are sorted out face-to-face in store but improving access to the other options that already exist is good for customers and retailers when it leads to a speedier more efficient resolution.”

The BRC welcomed plans for a single, simplified consumer rights law and said the Government was right to accept that this should wait until it is able to include the provisions of the Consumer Rights Directive, currently being developed in Brussels.

The retailers' organisation also welcomed proposals for Trading Standards reform saying greater consistency between local authorities will help retailers comply with the law.

British Retail Consortium

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