What is the Local Authority Assured Trader Scheme?
It’s always a worry, knowing whether a trader in your area is one of the good guys or if they are likely to rip you off, over charge you or leave you with shoddy workmanship to sort out.
Although there are no guarantees with any work you have carried out, and things can go awry with even the most diligent and experienced trader, there are ways of safeguarding your cash by finding out about a trader before you entrust your particular job to them.
It’s a myth that you can simply call your local Trading Standards service and ask for details of any complaints about local traders. In fact, the advisers at Consumer Direct (the Office of Fair Trading consumer advice line) and members of your local trading standards team would actually be breaching the terms of the Data Protection Act if they were to divulge details of any complaints against specific companies to the general public.
Local Authority Assured Trader SchemesTo help consumers find an approved trader, and avoid being parted with their cash by unscrupulous traders, several local authority trading standards departments have developed schemes which local companies can join if they meet certain criteria, which usually also involves having their businesses audited by a trading standards officer.
The Local Authority Assured Trader Scheme Network (LAATSN) run several approved schemes across the country, and these schemes are only open to companies which can show that they comply with all the related Trading Standards legislation and their other legal obligations.
Companies admitted to the schemes also have to prove that they don’t use any high pressure sales techniques, and that they have procedures in place to deal with any complaints.
Businesses that sign up to the schemes benefit because they get support and promotion, in return for agreeing to treat their customers fairly. Schemes vary from one authority to another but they all have a common aim, and that’s to offer consumers a way of finding trustworthy traders; giving advice if things go wrong; giving local businesses an opportunity to show that they meet relevant national standards.
Buying With ConfidenceOne large, combined scheme works throughout the south of England. Buy With Confidence has been in operation for over eight years, and now covers much of the South of England. The scheme has more than 2000 businesses on its records, since it merged with the similar Customer First scheme in 2008, and it’s aims are to ‘support and promote reputable local businesses, while fulfilling a valuable consumer information and protection role’.
Businesses can benefit from being a member of the scheme, with more business coming their way, and consumers have the extra confidence of knowing that the trader they are using has been ‘vetted’ by the appropriate authorities, and that they can expect any complaints to be dealt with properly.To find out more or to search for a member of the Buy With Confidence scheme, you can visit their website.
Is my Local Authority a Member of an Assured Trader Scheme?The Buy with Confidence scheme is available in the following local authorities:
- Bath and North East Somerset Council
- Bracknell Forest District Council
- Brighton & Hove Council Trading Standards Department
- Buckinghamshire County Council
- Devon County Council
- Dorset County Council
- East Sussex County Council
- Hampshire County Council
- Isle of Wight Council
- Kent County Council
- Milton Keynes Council Trading Standards Division
- Nottinghamshire County & Nottingham City Council Trading Standards Services (in partnership)
- Oxfordshire County Council
- Portsmouth City Council Public Protection Service
- Reading Borough Council
- Southampton City Council
- South Gloucestershire Council
- Surrey County Council
- West Sussex County Council
The following schemes are members of the Local Authority Assured Trader Scheme Network
- Bedford Borough Council - Trading Standards Approved Scheme
- Carmarthenshire County Council Registered Traders Scheme
- Cheshire West and Chester Council - Garage approval scheme
- Cheshire East Council - Garage approval scheme
- Central Bedfordshire Council - Trading Standards Approved Scheme
- City of York Council Trading Standards Approved Motor Traders Fair Trading Scheme
- County Durham Registered Trader Scheme
- Dudley Trading Standards Fix-A-Home listed trader scheme
- Dundee City Council - Trusted Trader Scheme
- Medway Fair Trader Scheme
- Perth & Kinross Council – Better Business Partnership scheme
- Rhondda Cynon Taff building and motor trade charters scheme
- Sandwell’s 'Tradewell in Sandwell' scheme
- Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council's Shipshape scheme
- South Yorkshire Trading Standards Services Motor Trade Partnership scheme
- The Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Home Improvement Trader Register scheme
- West Yorkshire Trading Standards Motor Trade Partnership
- Wirral Trader Scheme