Posted: 2 February, 2013. Written by Lorraine
Provision of Services Regulations 2009
We are writing to remind you about your duties under the Provision of Services Regulations 2009. These duties apply to all providers operating in the UK regardless of where they originate (both EEA and rest of the world). I have added a link to guidance issued by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills to the Regulations to the Members’ Guidance section of the website:http://www.realassurance.org.uk/pdf/bis-guidance-for-business-on-the-provision-of-service-regulations.pdf
Because your business falls within the scope of the Regulations you need to observe certain requirements about the provision of information to consumers. The aim of these requirements is to ensure that consumers have access to a minimum amount of information and to a complaints procedure. This should enable consumers to make more informed decisions when considering whether to buy services from a particular provider and is intended to widen the choice of providers available to them. (You should read the Regulations alongside the requirements of the Consumer Protection Regulations and other legislation that may require you to provide information to consumers.)
The requirements are, in general, already common practice, and I do not expect that you will have to make major changes to your procedures. However, please be aware that, as from 1 February 2013, Section 5.6 of the REAL Consumer Code has been updated so as to reflect more fully the information you are required to provide under the Regulations. If you have any questions about the Regulations please do let me know.
REAL Consumer Code and Bye-Laws
Third, as from 1 February 2013 the REAL Consumer Code has been updated in a few other places:
• Sections 6.1.1 and 7.1 to clarify the MCS rules on sub-contracting;
• Section 6.3 to clarify the requirements for deposits and advance payments;
• Section 6.4 to clarify requirements around the setting of delivery and completion dates;
• Sections 9.2 and 9.3 to clarify the application procedures for conciliation and independent arbitration.
As from 1 February 2013 the REAL Consumer Code Bye-Laws have also been updated in order to:
• simplify and shorten them where possible
• provide some additions to the ‘Definitions’ section;
• clarify members’ obligations in respect of complaints being registered against them;
• clarify members’ obligations in respect of probationary status.
OFT report on business practices in the energy efficiency sector
Last, you may be aware that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) recently published a report into business practice in the energy efficiency sector: http://www.oft.gov.uk/news-and-updates/press/2013/02-13 The report was based on research the OFT carried out among installers of double glazing, home insulation and solar panels. The research uncovered some instances of poor practice towards consumers such as the use of high pressure sales techniques, unclear information about paperwork and cancellations rights and poor quality installations. As a result of this research the OFT has written to the leading firms in the sector asking them to ensure they are providing consistently high standards to consumers. The OFT has also launched an investigation.