Fair, flexible services for all 01A summary of the British Standard for inclusive service provision (BS 18477:2010)www.bsi...
Fair, flexible services for all 02A summary of the British Standard for inclusive service provision (BS 18477:2010)BS 1847...
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BSI Inclusive Services Brochure - accessible version. Fair, flexible services for all - guide to BS 18477 - The basics.

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Fair, flexible services for all - guide to BS 18477 - The basics.
The standard for Inclusive Service Provision (BS 18477) was developed by consumer organisations, charities and government bodies.

A summary of the British Standard for inclusive service provision - identifying and responding to consumer vulnerability (BS 18477:2010)

Have you ever felt unfairly treated by a shop, bank or other service provider? Have you ever wished that an organisation had treated you with more understanding or flexibility?

Maybe you couldn't read a contract properly because of eyesight problems or because the print was too small. Or you missed a payment on a bill because you’d just lost your job.

Or maybe the loss of a close friend or relative meant that you weren’t thinking straight and you signed up to a service that you didn’t really want.
What are British Standards?
seriously.

Everyone has different needs and different personal circumstances, which can change over time. Some circumstances can make you vulnerable, putting you at a disadvantage when buying goods or services. For example, if you are physically disabled, have mental health issues, become ill or unwell, lose your job or are going through a relationship breakdown you might misunderstand a contract, temporarily be unable to pay bills or deal with customer service staff or even lose money by being persuaded to buy something that you wouldn’t normally. Or you might not be able to understand certain information sent to you, because your service provider hasn’t sent it in an accessible format.

The law says that shops and service providers must treat consumers fairly and be especially careful to provide fair service to ‘vulnerable’ people. But it can be difficult for companies, and consumers, to know what this means.

The British Standard for Inclusive Service Provision sets guidelines to help organisations provide a fair, flexible service that can be used by all consumers equally, regardless of their health, age or personal circumstances.

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BSI Inclusive Services Brochure - accessible version. Fair, flexible services for all - guide to BS 18477 - The basics.

  1. 1. Fair, flexible services for all 01A summary of the British Standard for inclusive service provision (BS 18477:2010)www.bsigroup.com/ConsumerStandardsFair, flexible services for allA summary of the British Standard for inclusive service provision- identifying and responding to consumer vulnerability (BS 18477:2010)Have you ever felt unfairly treated by a shop, bank or other service provider? Have youever wished that an organisation had treated you with more understanding or flexibility?Maybe you couldnt read a contract properly because of eyesight problems or because theprint was too small. Or you missed a payment on a bill because you’d just lost your job.Or maybe the loss of a close friend or relative meant that you weren’t thinking straightand you signed up to a service that you didn’t really want.Everyone has different needs and different personal BS 18477 – The basicscircumstances, which can change over time. Some The standard for Inclusive Service Provision (BS 18477) wascircumstances can make you vulnerable, putting you at a developed by consumer organisations, charities anddisadvantage when buying goods or services. For example, government bodies to:if you are physically disabled, have mental health issues,become ill or unwell, lose your job or are going through a • encourage the use of fair, ethical and inclusive practicesrelationship breakdown you might misunderstand a contract, • show organisations how to identify vulnerable consumers andtemporarily be unable to pay bills or deal with customer how to treat them fairly to help them comply with the lawservice staff or even lose money by being persuaded to buy • help organisations to understand what consumers havesomething that you wouldn’t normally. Or you might not be a right to expect from themable to understand certain information sent to you, because • improve accessibility to services for allyour service provider hasn’t sent it in an accessible format. • increase consumer confidence in service providers.The law says that shops and service providers must treat The standard was published in 2010 and can be used byconsumers fairly and be especially careful to provide fair any service provider dealing with the public – from energyservice to ‘vulnerable’ people. But it can be difficult for companies, to broadband providers, local councils, governmentcompanies, and consumers, to know what this means. departments, charities, banks or transport providers.The British Standard for Inclusive Service Provision sets It’s not only consumers who will benefit from the standard.guidelines to help organisations provide a fair, flexible service Organisations that choose to comply with the standard, andthat can be used by all consumers equally, regardless of their provide a flexible and inclusive service, could benefit fromhealth, age or personal circumstances. increased customer loyalty and confidence in their brand. What are British Standards? The British Standards Institution (BSI) has been developing standards for over 100 years to make products and services safer for consumers. Standards set out good practice and guidelines for organisations to follow. It’s not compulsory for organisations to sign up to a standard, so you can feel confident that those that choose to comply with British Standards take safety and customer service seriously.
  2. 2. Fair, flexible services for all 02A summary of the British Standard for inclusive service provision (BS 18477:2010)BS 18477 – What to expect from • Be made aware of organisations that might be able to help consumers with particular issues so that they canorganisations point them in the right direction for further assistanceOrganisations that choose to follow the British Standard or information (for example, debt advice services or thefor Inclusive Service Provision make a serious commitment Citizens Advice Bureau).to providing services that are fair and accessible to all. Youshould expect organisations that comply with the standard to: Fair marketing • Make sure that marketing information is clear, jargon free,Policies and planning and not misleading.• Make sure that all staff – from senior management to • Make sure that inappropriate goods and services are not customer-facing staff – are committed to inclusive service marketed to vulnerable consumers (for example: high and get the training and resources they need to interest loans to those in debt). implement this. • Take reasonable steps to ensure that all customers• Do their best, from the start, to design services that are understand their right to cancel contracts and change flexible and easy to access so that as many consumers their minds. as possible can use them.• Try to anticipate potential problems and prevent them Sales activities from happening, as well as make changes in response Create a ‘sales code of conduct’ detailing what the to customer feedback and complaints. organisation expects from its agents and regularly check• Continually review existing services to see where that sales individuals, whether employed directly or via improvements can be made. a third party agent, are following the code.Flexible services Contact methods• Give customer-facing staff the power to resolve consumer • Offer several alternative methods for consumers to problems themselves, where possible, so that customers contact the organisation. For example, email, telephone have a single point of contact rather than being passed and a postal address. round different departments and staff members. • Offer a free or low cost telephone number to make• Allow staff to be flexible when it comes to dealing with it easier for consumers to get in touch. individual consumer problems – for example, to be able • Have a well-publicised procedure for dealing with to offer a payment holiday if a consumer is ill, or to offer complaints and target timescales for responding to them. flexible repayment terms for those in financial difficulties. • Keep customers updated on the progress of their enquiry• To never knowingly withdraw basic services, such as or complaint and when it is expected to be resolved. heating, light and phone, and to thoroughly investigate why bills haven’t been paid before taking action. Provision of information• Have procedures in place to allow third parties (such as • Make sure that all bills, letters, marketing materials carers, or Citizens Advice) to act on behalf of individuals. and other communications are available in a range of accessible formats and do their best to ensure thatStaff training customers receive information in their preferred format.All customer-facing staff should: • To test their products and services on end users for• Be trained in how to recognise signs of vulnerability accessibility and usability. in individuals, identify their needs and offer them the appropriate solutions and assistance.• Receive full training in relevant legislation, such as the Equality Act, the Disability Act and Data Protection Act.
  3. 3. Fair, flexible services for all 03A summary of the British Standard for inclusive service provision (BS 18477:2010) Frequently asked questions Q. Who do I complain to if I think that an organisation has treated me unfairly? A. You should always contact the organisation first, to give it an opportunity to put things right. If it has a formal complaints procedure then follow that. If you are still unhappy then you can take your complaint to the next level by complaining to the Ombudsman (if there is one) or the regulator of that particular industry (for example, the FSA for financial services). If you want any help or advice about making a complaint, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or Consumer Direct (see the Useful Information section). Q. Where can I find out more about my legal rights as a consumer? A. The Citizens Advice Bureau has lots of up to date information about consumer rights. Contact your local bureau or visit its online advice guide www.adviceguide.org.uk. You can also get advice from Consumer Direct. Q. If an organisation doesn’t follow the standard is it breaking the law? A. It is not a legal requirement to follow the standard. But, if an organisation claims to comply with the standard, then doesn’t, it is in breach of contract and can be reported to Trading Standards. Even if it does not claim compliance, in the event of a serious complaint or incident, the standard could be used in a court of law to provide a benchmark of best practice. Q. Where can I find a copy of BS 18477? A. Your local public library should be able to give you access to a reference copy, or you can purchase a copy from BSI either as a printed document or in electronic form (PDF format) http://shop.bsigroup.com/BS18477. USEFUL INFORMATION AgeUK 0800 169 6565 www.ageuk.org.uk British Standards Institution (BSI) 020 8996 9001 www.bsigroup.com Citizens Advice (to find details of your local bureau) www.citizensadvice.org.uk (to read the online advice guide) www.adviceguide.org.uk Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) 0845 604 6610 www.equalityhumanrights.com Consumer Direct (for advice and links to local Trading Standards) 08454 040506 www.consumerdirect.gov.uk Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) 0808 808 0123 www.rnid.org.uk Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) 0303 123 9999 www.rnib.org.uk Trading Standards www.tradingstandards.gov.ukBSI Group Headquarters389 Chiswick High Road London W4 4AL UKTel +44 (0)20 8996 9001Fax +44 (0)20 8996 7001www.bsigroup.com© BSI copyrightraising standards worldwide™

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