Kent County Council

Trading Standards Checked Scheme

Terms and Conditions

Dated: 18/12/2019

Please read these terms and conditions carefully, they form the basis of our contract with you.

Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Membership
  3. Application Process
  4. Vetting
  5. Criminal Background Checks
  6. Sub-contractors
  7. Annual Fees and Charges
  8. Renewal of membership
  9. Your Commitment:
  10. Our commitment
  11. Membership Benefits
  12. Logo Conditions of Use
  13. Code of Conduct
  14. Termination of Membership
  15. Changes to Terms
  16. Complaints from Consumers About Scheme Members
  17. Complaints and Compliments about the Scheme
  18. Jurisdiction
  1. Introduction

    The Kent County Council (KCC) Trading Standards Checked scheme is for genuine, reputable businesses who provide services or products to consumers.

    The purpose of the “Trading Standards Checked” (TSC) accreditation scheme is to provide consumers, particularly the vulnerable, with a choice of businesses who can be relied upon to act fairly, lawfully and legitimately.

    The aim is to prevent consumers becoming victims of crime. This could be by limiting access to the market for ‘rogue traders’, by carrying out checks to prevent criminals joining the scheme and by providing consumers with a list of vetted traders.

    The scheme operator is KCC.

    A legally binding contract based on these terms and conditions is formed between you and us when we confirm your membership of the TSC scheme to you in writing and you have paid your annual membership fees.

    Definitions:

    In these terms and conditions:

    “you” or “business” means a member of the TSC scheme

    “us” or “we” means KCC.

    “scheme” or “TSC scheme” means the Trading Standards Checked accreditation scheme

    “member” or “membership” means a member of or membership to the scheme.

  2. Membership

    Annual Membership is available to the following types of businesses:

    • Sole traders
    • Partnerships
    • Private companies limited by shares (LTD)
    • Public limited companies (PLC)
    • Companies limited by guarantee
    • Limited liability partnerships (LLP)
    • Community interest companies
    • Societies registered with the Financial Conduct Authority

    If the legal status of your business changes we may need to review your membership to the TSC scheme. It is your responsibility to notify us of any changes to your business, contact details and services as soon as reasonably practicable.

    Failure to do so may result in your membership being reviewed, suspended or terminated.

    KCC reserves the right to refuse membership to any business which it feels does not satisfy the criteria laid down in these terms and conditions. It may, as an alternative to refusal, impose certain conditions that need to be satisfied prior to confirmation of membership.

    We are likely to decline applications from businesses where:

    • The goods or services being offered cannot be lawfully supplied in the UK.
    • Services are of a broadly financial investment nature, that rely on the future value of goods or land, speculation on commodity, shares or other products, unless the products, business and sales representatives are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority or similar regulator.
    • The goods or services being offered are such that KCC, our partners or other business members would incur a risk to their reputation by association.
    • The goods or services being offered are of a religious, spiritual or personal belief nature such that membership might be construed as endorsing that religion or belief.
    Regional and National Businesses

    If you operate regionally or nationally, with a significant number of branches or provide services over a very large geographic area, we will discuss with you how best to manage your application and support your membership. Each case will be assessed individually.

  3. Application Process

    The application form asks for information about your business, the owners and employees. All applications are made online at www.kent.gov.uk/tschecked.

    You must submit your completed application form to KCC along with all supporting documents and the application fee to enable KCC to perform background checks and vet your business. The results of these checks are used to assess the suitability of your business to join the scheme as per the vetting criteria (clause 4 below).

    It is your responsibility to ensure that all information provided in the application form is true and accurate. If it is found that information provided is false or fraudulent, your membership to the scheme could be terminated as per clause 14.

  4. Vetting

    KCC carries out background checks on businesses who wish to be part of the TSC scheme. In carrying out these checks, KCC may rely on its own records and on intelligence received from partners and other law enforcement agencies that has been shared for the purpose of preventing and detecting crime.

    We will vet the previous trading history of the business as well as the directors, owners or other persons with significant control or influence over the business. If either the business or any of the responsible persons fail our vetting checks, membership may be declined or terminated.

    If you do not pass our vetting checks, we may not be able to tell you all the reasons why, due to the databases we use to carry out the checks.

    Checks will include:

    • Identity verification.
    • Financial checks on the company to ensure its financial health.
    • Review of consumer complaints made against the business or individual working for the business.
    • Checks with other local authorities, partner agencies and enforcement agencies.

    You will need to provide consent on the application form for KCC to conduct these checks.

    Every business is treated individually and reviewed against the same scheme criteria to ensure that our approach to applications to the scheme is consistent, fair and proportionate. KCC conducts a range of due diligence checks and may refuse, suspend or terminate membership where there is reliable information that suggests the business is not suitable for the scheme.

    You may be deemed unsuitable if there is intelligence to suggest:

    • There is any unlawful activity or criminal behaviour (including tax evasion).
    • Aggressive behaviour/character (not restricted to trading practices only), including any aggression or verbal abuse shown towards consumers or KCC staff.
    • Poor customer care.
    • Failure to be transparent and honest with information provided to KCC, our partners, or consumers.
    • Direct or indirect discrimination/targeting of particular groups.
    • Repeated/ongoing failure to rectify issue(s) or legislative breach(es) raised by Trading Standards or other regulatory authorities.
    • Lack of compliance with legislation, regulation or good industry practice.
    • Any complaints that constitute a serious breach or repeated minor breaches of the scheme’s Code of Conduct (see below).
    • Unreasonable* number of complaints made against the business in the preceding 3 years.

    Where there is intelligence suggesting any of the above, KCC will conduct reasonable enquiries to corroborate the information and KCC may exercise absolute discretion in forming any conclusions or findings.

    Examples of minor breaches are a failure to:

    • Let your customer know straight away if you can’t do the work.
    • Keep appointments and arrive on time (calling in advance if you need to reschedule).
    • Be realistic about when you can start work and how long it will take.
    • Be courteous. Treat your customer, their property and belongings with respect.
    • Keep customers in the picture about all aspects of the work.
    • Return phone messages promptly.
    • Deal with complaints promptly and professionally.

    Examples of major breaches are a failure to:

    • Be honest in all dealings.
    • Tell customers about any call-out fees before confirming appointments.
    • Create an additional contract for variations from the original agreement.

    *Unreasonable is quantified as a percentage of complaints against the company’s trading activity. In order to assess this, you may be asked to provide evidence of your company’s trading activity so that a percentage can be ascertained, failure to do so may result in your membership being suspended or terminated.

    • Less than 5% is considered reasonable.
    • 5-10% would result in random sampling taking place to ascertain whether the complaints are justified.
    • Over 10% would suggest that the company is not suitable for the scheme and that they are not projecting trust to their customers.
  5. Criminal Background Checks

    On application to the TSC scheme, the business owner(s) must state if they have unspent criminal convictions.

    They may be asked to provide further details – this may be via a telephone interview, or in the form of a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check. Upon receipt of this, KCC will make a balanced judgement taking into account:

    • The nature of the offence.
    • Its relevance to the post, position or profession in question.
    • How long ago the offence took place.
    • Whether it was an isolated offence or part of a pattern of offending.
    • What is known about your conduct and character before or since.

    If during the vetting of your application to the scheme, or at any other time during your membership, it is believed that you or any of your employees may have unspent criminal convictions, you or your employee may be asked to provide a DBS check that is no more than 4 weeks old.

    All DBS checks will be at your own cost, and failure to provide one when requested may result in your application being refused or membership being suspended or terminated.

    For more information on how you can request a copy of a DBS check please follow the link: https://www.gov.uk/request-copy-criminal-record

    If any offences relate to murder/ manslaughter, theft, fraud, supply of controlled drugs, money laundering, violence or sexual offences; the application will automatically be refused or any granted membership may be suspended or terminated.

    If you fail to inform us about any criminal convictions you receive whilst being a member of the scheme, your membership will be terminated.

    KCC reserves the right to share information gathered on individuals and businesses in the course of administering the scheme, with other Agencies and law enforcers where necessary.

  6. Sub-contractors

    You are liable for the work and actions of your sub-contractors and that they are suitably qualified and experienced to carry out the work required. It is strongly recommended that you use subcontractors who you trust and they must be aware of and follow our Code of Conduct, as per clause 13.

    Where subcontractors are used to provide services to a customer, you must make the customer aware that you will be engaging sub-contractors to carry out the work.

    Failure of your sub-contractors to follow the scheme’s Code of Conduct could result in suspension or termination of your membership.

  7. Annual Fees and Charges

    Annual prices for Gold Membership or Standard Membership are stated (excluding VAT) on the trader pages of the website, www.kent.gov.uk/tschecked.

    The annual membership fee includes an initial application fee of £150 plus VAT (£30), which is non-refundable whether membership is granted or not.

    The cost of Membership includes:

    • Checks carried out by KCC on the business and the business owners and /or directors.
    • Listing in an exclusive ‘Trading Standards Checked’ online directory
    • Use of ‘Trading Standards Checked’ logo with unique ID to display on van, website and paperwork
    • Dedicated member webpage on www.kent.gov.uk/tschecked.
    • Access to a personal trader account
    • Access to free Trading Standards compliant paperwork
    • Regular Member Newsletter (Advice, updates, offers etc.)
    • Relevant Business Alerts
    • Customer call back requests sent directly to the trader (trader can choose to switch this function off)

    Gold Membership includes all of the services listed above, plus:

    • Priority access to customer call back requests. When a customer shortlists more than one trader and requests a bulk call back request, the call back request will be sent to Gold members 4 hours before Standard members.
    • Inclusion of business logo / image and a short biography in search listing results.
    • Additional web page features:
      • Option to display business logo or Trading Standards Checked ID logo
      • Gallery of previous work
      • Longer biography

    Earlybird Special Offer - 50% discount on Gold Membership

    This is an introductory offer of 50% discount on Gold Membership for one year, this offer will end on 31st March 2020. This special rate is offered to traders at the start of the scheme and no traders have paid the full price to join the scheme before this time.

  8. Renewal of membership

    Membership of the scheme must be renewed on an annual basis. We will contact you one calendar month before your renewal is due to find out if you would like to renew.

    If you choose to renew your membership you will need to pay the non-refundable application fee listed above. Vetting checks will be carried out and if passed the remainder of the annual membership fee must be paid.

  9. Your Commitment:

    You will:

    • Comply with the scheme’s Code of Conduct, please see clause 13.
    • Ensure that any sub-contractors comply with the Code of Conduct.
    • Agree to engage in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) if a complaint cannot be resolved and your customer wishes to use an ADR service.
    • Comply with reasonable guidance as provided by KCC’s Trading Standards.
  10. Our Commitment:

    We will:

    • Offer (but guarantee) membership to businesses who comply with the law, trade honestly and fairly.
    • Provide business paperwork templates for you to use including quotes and cancellation paperwork written by a qualified Trading Standards Officer.
    • Support your business by issuing guidance on changes to laws that may affect your particular type of business (but you must always seek independent legal advice before relying on such guidance).
    • Suspend or remove any trader who breaches the scheme’s Terms and Conditions and/or Code of Conduct.
    • Remain impartial at all times.
    • Provide a scheme that benefits legitimate businesses, and that provides consumers with a range of checked traders to choose from.
    • Provide an online platform for you to promote your business and allow consumers to find out about your business.
    • Treat each business individually and with respect.
    • Provide our service with reasonable care and skill and within reasonable timescales but time shall not be of essence of the contract.
  11. Additional Membership Benefits

    The scheme offers a range of additional membership benefits.

    Any additional membership benefits are discretional and are offered as a courtesy to our members and do not form part of the membership fees.

    As such the additional membership benefits may be changed, withdrawn or added to at any time.

    Please see www.kent.gov.uk/tschecked for current additional member benefits.

  12. Logo Conditions of Use

    The Trading Standards Checked (TSC) logo is an important part of the scheme, and we need to control how it is used. The intellectual property rights in the TSC logo belong solely to KCC and KCC reserves its rights to the fullest extent permitted by law. Members of the scheme shall have a royalty free, non-exclusive licence to use the TSC logo in accordance with these terms and conditions and any breach of these terms and conditions or the Code of Conduct shall entitle KCC to terminate or suspend the licence to use the TSC logo with immediate effect.

    Once your membership is approved you will be sent a logo electronically. Your logo will be specific to your business as it will include a unique Trader ID number. This is to help protect your business against other traders falsely claiming to be Trading Standards Checked.

    As a member of the scheme you may use the TSC logo to publicise your membership and promote your Trading Standards Checked business.

    It is important that all members follow the Conditions of Use to:

    • Ensure that members of the scheme are easy to identify.
    • Ensure the scheme is presented as smart, professional and reliable.
    • Increase awareness of the scheme.
    • Reassure consumers.
    • Set your business apart from others by being KCC Trading Standards Checked.

    The logo that is sent to you is the only TSC logo you can display. It must never appear without the Trader ID number. The logo can only be used as follows:

    • On your business vehicle(s) once they are registered with Trading Standards Checked.
    • On your business website, including social media platforms.
    • On your business stationery (check the free templates in the online members area)
    • On your business trading premises.
    • On adverts placed in magazines and newspapers.

    You must not:

    • Display the logo on any item of clothing.
    • Use the KCC logo on its own. You do not have permission to do this.
    • Display or use the logo in any way that could be misleading.
    • Add any additional wording or statements to the logo.
    • Display any other logo, branding or marketing material associated to the TSC scheme unless provided in the online members’ area.
    • Create any new logo using elements of your TSC logo including the words ‘Kent County Council’ or ‘county council’ or the words ‘Trading Standards Checked’.
    • Alter or modify the logo in any way and it must only be used in the locations and sizes detailed in these guidelines.
    • Allow any other individuals or contractors to use the TSC logo.
    • Sell your vehicle with the logo displayed on it, you must remove the logo first.

    It is the responsibility of the scheme applicant to control the usage of their unique TSC logo and ID number.

    You must comply with the following Design Specifications:

    • Minimum printed size of the logo 22mm wide. E.g. for use on business cards or printed adverts in magazines.
    • Maximum printed size of the logo 200mm wide. E.g. for use on vehicles, banners or exhibition displays.
    • Minimum size of 60 x 60 pixels for use on websites and social media.
    • The logo must be used in its original colours only – you must not change the colour to match your own branding.

    Written Statements:

    As well as using the logo, you may wish to publicise your membership of the scheme by making a written statement in your adverts etc. Once your business is a member of the scheme, permission is given for the following statements to be used in connection with your membership.

    • A member of Kent County Councils’ Trading Standards Checked Scheme
    • Trading Standards Checked scheme member

    Other statements are not acceptable for use, some examples are listed below but they are not a definitive list:

    • Recommended by Trading Standards / Kent County Council.
    • Approved by Kent County Council / Trading Standards.
    • Working with / in conjunction with / in association with Trading Standards / Kent County Council.

    If you would like to use any other wording, please make sure you contact us first in order to obtain written permission.

    Any misuse of the logo or deviation from these guidelines will be an infringement of your terms of membership. Use of the logo by a non-member is a banned practice under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and is a criminal offence.

    Action will be taken if any member or non-member is found to infringe these guidelines or misuse the logo. Regular checks are carried out to ensure compliance with these conditions of use.

    Removal of Logo

    If your membership of the TSC scheme ends, for whatever reason, you will no longer have permission to use the logo and you must remove it from display within 28 days of the end of your membership. Continued use of the logo is a criminal offence enforceable by Trading Standards. Checks will be carried out to ensure that the logo has been removed.

  13. Code of Conduct

    As a member of the ‘Trading Standards Checked’ scheme you agree to follow this Code of Conduct:

    • Be courteous, honest and respectful in all your dealings as a trader.
    • Deal with all complaints you receive in a prompt and professional manner.
    • Always provide correct and relevant paperwork before commencing any work. (This will protect your business too.)
    • Never attempt to carry out any work for which you are not suitably qualified to perform.
    • Perform all work to a high standard and adhere to relevant industry standards & legislation.
    • Have adequate Public Liability Insurance and, if applicable, Employers Liability Insurance to the legal minimum.
    • Comply with all relevant UK Legislation.
    • Comply with any regulatory body or licenses that you are required to have for example: Gas Safe and Waste Carriers License.
    • Take responsibility for any sub-contractors, sub-consultants, sub-advisers and sub-agents that you engage, and for any work that they conduct on your behalf.
    • Keep your customers informed, especially if:
      1. you are running late to an appointment or will not be able to make it.
      2. work is not going to be completed on time.
      3. there are necessary changes to the agreed schedule of works that may increase the cost.
    • Ensure appropriate content is published on your profile. There must not be any: profanity; racist; or religious remarks. KCC reserves the right to remove any content submitted that is deemed to be inappropriate, we will notify you if any changes are made. Inappropriate content may result in a review of your membership, which could lead to suspension or termination.
    • Do not cold call to obtain business. This includes door knocking, telephone calls etc.
    • Try to provide additional support and assistance to vulnerable consumers. A local KCC Community Warden may be able to help you with this or contact the TSC Scheme Manager.
    • Never demand that payments are made in cash.
    • Never take a customer to a bank or cash point for them to withdraw cash to pay you.
    • Never be verbally or physically abusive or threatening to customers or any KCC member of staff.
    • Never breach the consumer rights of your customers.

    If you are found to be in breach of this Code of Conduct, your membership will be reviewed and could be suspended or terminated. KCC reserves the right to temporarily remove members from the scheme pending investigations.

  14. Termination of Membership

    Your right to terminate:

    You may terminate your membership at any time by logging into your account at www.kent.gov.uk/tschecked and closing your account.

    When you do this your business will be removed from the website immediately, you will also need to remove the logo within 28 days of cancellation from all of your business paperwork, literature, marketing materials, website and social media channels.

    KCC’s right to terminate:

    KCC may terminate the TSC scheme and therefore your membership for any reason at any time by giving you written notice of not less than 3 months.

    Your membership will be terminated with immediate effect if KCC finds that you:

    • Breach these terms and conditions.
    • Breach the Code of Conduct.
    • Fail to pay the membership fees.
    • Generate complaints from your customers that are considered to be severe or numerous.

    KCC reserves the right to review your membership, at any time, if any concerns, complaints, information or intelligence is received about you or your business in relation to your actions, behaviour and trading practice. For details of our vetting criteria, please see clause 4 of these terms and conditions.

    Please note: There is no cooling off period, and we do not offer refunds if you cancel your membership or if your membership is terminated.

  15. Changes to Terms

    We will review the operation of the scheme from time to time with the aim of maintaining and improving the benefits offered to both consumers and business. KCC may amend these terms and conditions from time to time and shall notify you within three (3) working days of making any changes to these terms and conditions. A copy of the amended terms and conditions will be made available at www.kent.gov.uk/tschecked

  16. Complaints from Consumers About Scheme Members

    If a customer complains about your business/work to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service, they will advise the consumer to contact you in the first instance and follow your complaints procedure.

    Should the customer’s complaint not be resolved, or you reach a deadlock situation then as per the terms of the scheme under clause 9, you agree to participate in an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process should your customer wish to use ADR.

    If you and your customer decide to use an ADR service, the final decision shall be binding on you to the maximum extent permitted by Law, including any decision as to payments to be made to the customer.

    KCC reserves the right to review your membership at any time, if an ADR decision is ignored.

    The decision to use ADR is for your customers to make, the business cannot initiate ADR.

    You acknowledge that a copy of the final decision shall be provided to KCC by the ADR scheme. Under the membership terms you do not have a right to appeal an ADR decision (to the maximum extent legally permitted).

    If the ADR identifies a criminal offence being committed, appropriate steps will be taken which may include suspending your membership, terminating your membership, referring the matter to the Police or commencing a Trading Standards investigation.

    All investigations undertaken will be done so fairly, as quickly as possible and by appropriate, qualified and experienced members of staff.

  17. Complaints and Compliments about the Scheme

    We want to hear about your experience of being a member of our scheme; complaints and compliments can help us improve the service we provide to members.

    We will investigate any complaints about the scheme we receive according to KCC’s complaint policy and respond as quickly as possible. Complaints and compliments can be made online at www.kent.gov.uk.

  18. Jurisdiction

    These terms and conditions shall be governed by English law. Disputes arising in connection with these terms and conditions shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.