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21 July 2014

Change brings consumers better value

Program will put businesses to the test.

This month Consumer NZ launches a suite of digital services designed to deliver the best value for consumers and businesses. A bunch of highly talented staff have been thinking about little else for the past 12 months. The question they were charged with answering was: How can we help businesses deliver a better deal and service for consumers?

To reach an answer we’ve talked to Consumer members, ordinary New Zealanders and businesses. We’ve looked at what other consumer organisations around the world do to ensure they remain relevant. And in typical Kiwi fashion, we’ve come up with our own unique answer.

From this month, Consumer extends its testing programme from just products and services to accrediting entire businesses that meet our strict Code of Conduct (555 KB). You can read more about the principles that underline the Consumer Trusted business programme in this issue.

In a nutshell, we’ll be recognising retailers and service providers who go beyond their obligations under the Consumer Guarantees Act to provide excellent customer service.

At the same time those businesses will be able to offer deals to our members. For example, electricity retailer Powershop, which regularly rates highly in our customer satisfaction surveys, has joined the programme (see this issue for its latest ranking).

It will be offering discounts to members who switch to its services. Similarly 2degrees, the first company to make it over our tough accreditation hurdles, will be offering discounted deals to Consumer members.

We’re pleased to have two such important service providers on board.

The value to membership is guaranteed savings on services and products used every day, and a route to buying with confidence from businesses you can trust – online, and bricks and mortar.

As well, all Consumer Trusted businesses will need to belong to either their own (approved) dispute resolution service or to ours. Anyone who has a complaint about a Trusted business can come to us for assistance.

We’ll also be personalising the service so it will be much easier for you to research and get advice on the stuff you’re interested in. And we’ll be making it easier for you to get involved in our campaigns.

At the heart of all the changes are the principles that have stood us in good stead for more than 55 years – independence , trustworthiness and a point of view with no strings attached.

About the author:

Sue Chetwin has been our Chief Executive since April 2007 after more than 25 years in print journalism. She was formerly the Editor of Sunday News, Sunday Star Times and the Herald on Sunday. She says there are strong parallels between consumer advocacy and journalism.

Sue oversees all of Consumer’s operations and is also the public face of the organisation. Sue is a director of the Banking Ombudsman Scheme, an alternate on the Electricity and Gas Complaints Commission and a member of the Electricity Authority Retail Advisory group.

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