How can you tell who to trust?
Many businesses advertise their services using professional qualifications or logos denoting membership of or approval by a professional organisation. But how can the consumer test these claims made by the businesses?
The Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading is regularly contacted by people asking for advice on how to check out these claims. To assist it has produced a leaflet entitled “Advice to consumers on checking professional qualifications, logos and claims of approval” advising on the checks that people can make to help them decide if the business is the one for them.
A wide range of professionals advertise their services in this way: accountants, advocates, stockbrokers, gas fitters, physiotherapists, podiatrists, architects, chartered surveyors and complementary health care professionals for example. These are just some of the services that are referred to in the leaflet. Sometimes people can be confused about exactly which services they need. For example a chiropractor and a physiotherapist offer different services but people often think they are the same. The leaflet advises people on how to research the services they need, what qualifications or memberships of professional bodies businesses require to provide those services and how they can check that the businesses do actually hold these qualifications or memberships.
Chief Trading Standards Officer John Peet advises “As well as advising consumers on how to find out what services they require and what qualifications or memberships the businesses should hold, the leaflet also advises on how businesses use logos as part of their advertising. Logos denoting membership of or approval by a professional or Government organisation may be legitimately used to promote business interests. However, their misuse, deliberate or otherwise, can result in you being misled over the standard of service provided, the training or qualification of the businesses’ personnel, the businesses’ compliance with rules or codes of conduct or the existence of complaints/arbitration procedures. If a business uses a logo to promote its services, ask for the details of the body concerned. Contact them and ask whether the business is a member or has been approved by that body and what standards of service they have met to achieve this. If you have any concerns that a business is falsely using a logo or falsely claiming to be a member of or be approved by a body you should contact the Office”
The Chairman of the Office of Fair Trading, Mr Bill Henderson MHK said “I have been very concerned in the past by businesses which make claims about their professional qualifications. People just don’t know who to trust. This leaflet will be a big help in pointing people in the right direction to find out the things they need to check. If people still have concerns after they have read the leaflet they should contact the Office or their MHK.”
Copies of the leaflet can be obtained from the OFT’s office in Lord Street, Douglas, by telephoning 686500 or from its website www.gov.im/oft