With royal fever sweeping across the country to mark the coronation of King Charles III, one question that has been raised with the Furniture and Home Improvement Ombudsman (FHIO), is the status of Royal Warrants and what they mean for and to consumers.
You will have heard the phrase “By Royal Appointment” and probably seen the Royal Arms used by certain businesses, but in order to use any endorsement or quality mark, strict rules apply both in terms of the body or organisation providing the mark and the consumer protection law more broadly.
What is a Royal Warrant?
A Royal Warrant of Appointment is a document that permits a company to use the Royal Arms in connection with its businesses and which is granted for up to five years at a time in recognition of the ongoing supply of goods and services to the Royal Household. The Monarch decides who to appoint as grantees of Royal Warrants and they are reviewed upon change of Monarch.
From a trader’s perspective, this is an endorsement for their brand from the top of the UK establishment; from a consumer perspective, this is evidence of a commitment to the highest standard of service, quality, excellence and craftsmanship.
The Royal Warrant of Appointment is viewed as a high accolade and mark of quality which may draw consumers to certain brands and which traders will leverage to highlight commitment to the highest standards.
From a consumer protection standpoint, this also has certain important considerations. The consumer protection landscape is subject to many elements of consumer law that businesses need to be aware of and which impact all areas of a business’ dealings with its consumers. The regulations contain banned practices, totally outlawed and not justifiable in any form. It is a banned practice, and therefore automatically outlawed by these regulations, to display a quality mark without authorisation, to claim an endorsement that the trader does not have and to make such a claim without complying with the terms of the approval. This becomes, therefore, a question of trust, that when displaying any endorsement be it from the Royal Household, an endorsed trader scheme, or membership of an Ombudsman, traders need to ensure information is true, kept up to date and does not mislead consumers thereby influencing their transactional decisions.
Sometimes mis-using an association as a mark of quality may be blatant, however sometimes it could be in error for example by not updating a website, of the signage on vehicles and in showrooms. That it is why it is vital that traders understand the rules and the implications of non-compliance.
The Ombudsman offers various courses that have been designed to help businesses assess and respond to risk, ensuring compliance with a range of consumer protection laws and embedding the spirit of consumer confidence. For more information on training, visit www.fhio.org/courses.