Since its inception in 2005, consumer protection has been a critical aim for TrustMark as an organisation. During this time we have seen a huge growth in awareness, as well as the emergence of a number of additional initiatives designed to enhance the level of protection consumers can rely on in a number of sectors.
This can only be seen as a positive step and TrustMark is proud to support any activity that leads to greater awareness of the risks of scams and other practices that cause consumer detriment.
One challenge TrustMark and other consumer protection organisations frequently encounter is the fact that we are not an industry police force. While we can take robust measures to ensure all registered businesses meet the requirements necessary to deliver Government Endorsed Quality, TrustMark remains a voluntary scheme.
As such we can only vouch for the businesses that have gone through this process with their chosen Scheme Provider and can demonstrate technical competence as well as good customer service and trading practices. That is not to say businesses outside of TrustMark fall short of these requirements, simply that we are only in a position to champion those we know meet the required standards.
Even with these measures in place, it remains the case that one of the best means of protection is to ensure you as a consumer do your due diligence and research to best protect yourself.
When considering engaging a contractor to carry out work in or around your home, TrustMark would always recommend getting at least three separate quotes. While cost will always be an important consideration, by having a range of quotes for comparison you will have a fair idea of what is reasonable. This will help you find something that meets your budget, whilst exercising appropriate caution around any quote that appears to be ‘too good to be true.’
Do your due diligence
It is important to check on what you have been told, rather than taking all claims at face value. If a business claims to have accreditations or memberships (such as being a TrustMark Registered Business) it is important to confirm this information with your own research.
Check on the website (or call the office) of the body they claim to be a member of (you can search the TrustMark online directory here) to ensure their membership is current and valid.
If a business is making erroneous claims about the memberships you hold, you can report them. TrustMark takes logo misuse very seriously and we will pursue a prosecution through Trading Standards if necessary to prevent this misleading practice.
Check all trades are covered
TrustMark, through our expert network of Scheme Providers, covers a wide range of trades from air conditioning engineers to landscape gardeners A number of businesses operate in more than one sector and it is important to check they are registered with the schemes and memberships appropriate for the work you require.
Make sure that your original quote, as well as any amends that take place as the project progresses are recorded in writing. This should also include the agreed payment schedule.
While TrustMark will always strive for an environment that offers ever-improving standards of workmanship and consumer protection, we cannot do this without help from consumers themselves.
One of the best things consumers can do to reduce the risks posed by substandard traders (ranging from the incompetent to the criminal) is to empower themselves. This can be done by researching what traders should demonstrate, and by carrying out relatively simple checks to ensure the tradespeople they use meet required standards.
By using a TrustMark Registered Business you can be sure the business in question has been thoroughly vetted by their Scheme Provider, including having their installations regularly checked to ensure they consistently demonstrate Government Endorsed Quality in their work.
These processes are underpinned by various documents that ensure you can engage a tradesperson that is technically competent, has excellent customer services and trading practices and that in the event something does go wrong, there are a number of available remedies to ensure you are financially protected. You can find out more about the measures TrustMark takes to protect consumers and find a reputable tradesperson near you on the TrustMark website here.
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TrustMark is the Government Endorsed Quality Scheme that covers work a consumer chooses to have carried out in or around their home