OEA secures OFT stamp of approval

The Ombudsman for Estate Agents Company Limited has secured OFT approval for its consumer code of practice.

The code is designed to ensure consumers get a fairer deal when using OEA estate agents’ services.

The OEA represents around 40% of estate agency offices in the UK.

Members of the OEA can now use the OFT approved code logo to display their commitment to high quality customer service standards.

The OFT only approves codes that are effective in safeguarding and promoting consumer interests beyond the basic requirements of the law.

The main benefits for consumers dealing with OEA members include:

* Access to free dispute resolution via the Ombudsman for Estate Agents scheme

* Consumer satisfaction surveys to ensure members are complying with the code; members to use fair and clear contract terms

* A disciplinary council to deal with members who do not deliver the standards required by the code.

Sir John Vickers, chairman of the OFT, says: “The OFT approved code logo helps consumers identify businesses committed to fair trading.

“OEA’s consumer code of practice raises the bar for customer service in the estate agency sector.”

The OFT Consumer Codes Approval Scheme comprises two stages.

At stage one, the code sponsor must ensure the code meets the OFT’s published core criteria and contains measures designed to remove or ease consumer concerns about undesirable trading practices in its sector.

At stage two, the code sponsor must prove that its code lives up to the promise made at stage one, demonstrating that the code is being effectively implemented, by its members and that consumer disputes are properly resolved.