Consumer and Public Interest Network volunteers attend a whole range of meetings and events in the UK and beyond including:
- Technical committee meetings as CPIN Consumer Representatives
- Consumer training, CPD sessions and webinars
- Consumer-related conferences and events
- CPIN member Summer and Winter events
Many of our events offer the chance to engage with senior representatives from the major UK consumer and public interest organizations, such as Citizens Advice, Trading Standards, HMG and many other stakeholders.
Scotland conference on theme of ‘Trust and Consumers’
CPIN most recently hosted a conference focusing on ‘Trust and Consumers’. Attendees included ANEC (the European voice of consumers in standards), BSI, consumer organizations, experts, regulators, ombudsmen, Scottish government representatives, trade associations and many others who are interested in improving consumer trust.
Our Chair for the day was Martyn Evans, Chief Executive of the Carnegie UK Trust.
Trust is clearly an issue that binds us all together in the consumer world at the present time. It is a challenge to make some understand the value of consumer trust and mutual benefits of best practice. Standards can help organizations to earn and maintain this trust, so long as networks such as CPIN continue to represent the UK consumer's voice, when contributing to the making of business standards.
CPIN visited Edinburgh for its 2016 annual conference, in recognition of the importance of its Scottish members and the consumers they represent, and to hear the views of Scottish consumer protection organizations.
Plenary Sessions and Workshops
The plenary sessions and workshops were a great opportunity to meet some new consumer colleagues, expand our horizons and get a different perspective. Our last consumer conference at the same venue in Edinburgh was in 2003. Much has changed since then and consumer trust in big business in particular has obviously diminished dramatically.
Martyn Evans stressed that there is enormous interest in consumers and consumer trust:
- An effective consumer organization is one that makes other organizations work for consumers
- We need them to work together – this is compatible with business benefits
- Consumers occupy a powerful position: there are challenges facing organizations, especially ones providing everyday products and services
- Consumer organizations are uniquely positioned to apply pressure
- Businesses can work with them to tailor those and provide access to all
- At the heart of that is trust – in public sector and business – and that will drive significant benefits for all
- Treating consumers fairly is of high importance, especially vulnerable ones
- Standards are essential to the financial wellbeing of consumers
- The usefulness of standards as a benchmark of good practice to refer to and encourage trust
- It is important for businesses to use standards
- The importance of taking a holistic approach and making products and services accessible to all
Workshop Hot Topics:
- Bring banks, businesses and communities together
- Show how ‘If you meet this standard, here’s the benefit’
- Encourage the person-centred approach – ‘We’re all consumers – we’re all different with different needs’
- Develop a standard with BSI on consumer principles
In summing up, it was evident that it’s not just about consumers learning to trust, but also business learning to become more trustworthy. More intervention is needed; there is a need to increase the risks and the rewards; we need more information and openness.
BSI clearly has a critical role to play in improving and increasing consumer confidence.