Office of Fair Trading
Question :- I called in to see my agent this week and found a member of staff removing the Office of Fair Trading logo from the shop window. What's going on?
Answer :- What has happened is this. In common with similar bodies in other industries, The Property Ombudsman scheme - which provides both sellers and buyers with access to a free, fair, and independent complaints arbitration service - operates a Code of Conduct which up to now has been officially approved by the OFT. This gave agents like yours, who have signed up to the code, the right to use the 'OFT Approved' logo.
Now, however, for reasons best known to the powers that be, it has been decided that the OFT will cease its Consumer Codes Approval Scheme from 31st March. As a result, the right to display the logo is being withdrawn from that date. Your agent is simply being particularly conscientious in removing it well in advance.
From April 1st (yes, I know what you're thinking!) responsibility for approving such codes of conduct will pass to the Trading Standards Institute. Again, don't ask me why. But in any case, the TSI hasn't yet got around to deciding how the new system is actually going to work – let alone devising an appropriate logo for it!
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In view of this, you might expect the TSI to give agents who are signed up to The Property Ombudsman's code of conduct a reasonable period of grace before the old OFT-approved logo must be removed. Not a bit of it! Instead, the TSI is insisting that all trace of the old logo – not to mention any reference to the OFT on stationery or other printed documentation – must be completely eradicated by the April 1st deadline. The result: agents up and down the country will be forced to remove the OFT logo without being able to replace it with anything else – thereby not only incurring the expense of having to reprint all their documentation at least once this year, but also causing entirely avoidable concern to customers like yourself!