Policing PC retail: Is the Retail Ombudsman’s new gold tick just what tech shops need?

The Retail Ombudsman has launched a new badge of excellence for small independent retailers – including PC dealers – who want to show they are a cut above the rest.

The ombudsman scheme is authorised by government to settle disputes between retailers and consumers. But it is also offering its members the chance to join its elite ‘accredited member’ group.

This enhanced status allows the retailer to use the Retail Ombudsman’s gold tick of approval on all promotional material and company websites.

It’s designed to help retailers assure consumers they are a trustworthy firm to do business with.

While the Retail Ombudsman is an independent not for profit organisation and membership is free for small independent retailers, the gold tick can be obtained after a vetting procedure and costs £100 per year.

The Retail Ombudsman say that the gold tick will tell a PC store’s customers that the shop has terms and conditions of business that are legally compliant, fair and easy to understand, fair returns and complaints policies.

The tick will also mean that the Retail Ombudsman has verified their VAT status (if applicable) and contact details, as well as carrying out a check of their website.

Is this just what the UK tech retail sector needs? In recent years, dealer services group Synaxon has told PCR that the channel needed a trade association to police the industry, clamp down on rogue traders and settle customer disputes. Its UK MD Derek Jones wrote a more in-depth opinion piece on the subject last year.

Despite IT trade association CompTIA providing certification and best practice to IT resellers, it previously told PCR it’s not its job to police the industry.

Synaxon has since outlined its intention to launch a TrustATec trustmark and online discovery platform for PC retailers and resellers.

But none of these services promise to settle customer disputes like the Retail Ombudsman do.

Chief Ombudsman and consumer barrister Dean Dunham said: “In the very competitive High Street and online markets, quality, small independent retailers are finding it hard to distinguish themselves from less reputable counterparts.

“This is especially so in the computer sales market where companies are springing up all the time selling high value merchandise. The public wants to see some sort of badge of trust before they part with large sums of cash in a small shop instead of playing safe with a large, household name with multiple outlets.

“We have designed a scheme which tells consumers, ‘You can trust this retailer because he has been vetted by The Retail Ombudsman. And if he gets it wrong, we will put it right for them.’ It is the ultimate badge of customer care excellence.”

Retailers can visit http://www.theretailombudsman.org.uk/ to find out more and apply for accreditation.

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