Which? uses cookies to improve our sites and by continuing you agree to our cookies policy

Changes to the Which? Trusted Traders code of conduct – December 2017

By Rebecca Milligan

We’ve made a few changes to our code of conduct that you need to be aware of. In this guide, we’ll take you through the major changes and the reasons behind them.
new rules spelled out on a desk

Ensuring that you run your business professionally protects both you and your customers. The Which? Trusted Traders code of conduct is our set of rules laying out how you can continue to provide an exemplary service to your customers, while staying in line with all current legislation and ideas about best practice.

Every now and again we need to make amendments to the code of conduct to maintain these high standards. You should receive an updated copy within the next few days, if you haven’t done so already. You can also download the updated code of conduct December 2017, or contact your customer relationship executive, who will send one to you.

Changes to the code of conduct

Much of the code of conduct remains the same. But the major changes are as below.

Section 2.2 & 14.2: Subcontractors 

We have added a requirement for you to be responsible for the behaviour of subcontractors. If customers have a complaint about subcontractors’ work, you need to take responsibility for addressing any issues.

Why has this been added?

Previously, it could be unclear whether the contracted trader or its subcontractors were ultimately responsible for the quality of work. This could cause problems for customers attempting to resolve any issues if neither party took responsibility. This clause now makes it clear that ultimately you, the contracted trader, must take responsibility for the quality of work provided by your subcontractors, including attempting to resolve any problems should they arise.

Section 3.4: Compliance with the ‘What is expected of you’ document

This section replaces sections 10 and 12 in the previous issue of the code of conduct, which split out some of the different areas you needed to comply with in the ‘What is expected of you’ document.

Why has this been added?

It just makes the code simpler and clearer – you need to comply with all areas listed in the ‘What is expected of you’ document, so it makes sense to keep them in the same section in the code of conduct.

Section 4: Reviews

We’ve added a section about how we want you to deal with customer reviews. The new regulation states that when you use paper customer-review forms, you should leave them with the customer to complete in their own time, and post back to us themselves using the pre-paid postage label.

Why has this been added?

While it might seem helpful to post reviews back on behalf of customer, this isn’t best practice, as, in theory, it could allow you to remove any unfavourable reviews. It’s also better to leave customers to complete the review in their own time, so there’s no question of their feeling pressured into leaving a favourable review, or not leaving an unfavourable one.

Section 5.6: Professional conduct

We have added a requirement to comply with health and safety requirements.

Why has this been added?

Again, we want to ensure best practice, and part of that is complying with ALL current regulation. Completing construction phase plans is a requirement before starting any construction project – you can find more advice about this in how to create hassle-free construction phase plans.

Section 6.2 and 7.2: Payment for additional work.

We have clarified that we would expect you to give a revised or additional quote where additional work is undertaken. We’ve also made it clear that you should only take full payment once the job has been completed. We also require traders to give customers details of their payment terms.

Why has this been added?

Completing additional work without issuing a revised quote can be a point of particular friction when it comes to paying the final bill. Ensuring you always re-issue your quote when taking on additional work means there’s no room for misunderstanding between you and your customers about this. See more on this in our article about why no contract can mean no payment.

Section 7.6: Customer deposits

We have clarified this to include the requirement to return deposits if the work does not take place within a reasonable time or within the cancellation period.

Why has this been added?

To keep in line with best practice, and avoid the situation where traders hold on to deposits for an unreasonable length of time.

Section 8: Guarantees and warranties

We’ve added the requirement for you to clearly explain if the guarantee is insurance-backed or not.

Why has this been added?

To make it obvious to the customer what level of protection they will get from any guarantee you offer them.

Remember you can use the code of conduct as part of your presentation to potential customers. It shows them the depth and strength of the regulations you need to abide by, which can be a real incentive to work with you.

If you need extra copies, you can download the code of conduct, or ask your account manager for printed copies.

More on this…

Here are some other articles you might find helpful