ISO new work on standards for external customer dispute settlement and market based codes of conduct   

Updated February, 2004

ISO development  work  on External Customer Dispute Resolution Systems  and Market Based Codes of Conduct  has begun  The first meeting of the Working Groups was  held in conjunction with the plenary meeting of ISO TC176 in October 20-24, 2003 in Bucharest, Rumania.

Progress during the first meetings included the following according to a summary by the Chairman of the working groups Kernhghan Webb

•Defined key concepts underlying the two new standards
•Articulated the scope, objectives, and table of contents of the two new standards
•Articulated conceptually-linked titles for codes, complaints handling, and external disputes resolutions standards
•Proposed that that three standards be re-numbered to reflect their conceptual linkages
•Described the terminological compatibility/inter-operability between the two new standards
•Described the relation between the two standards and with other standards
•Set out long and short-term workplans for the two new standards
•

Definition of codes of conduct: a set of commitments about the behaviour of an organization towards its customers or potential customers regarding its products and processes

•This International Standard is intended for use by organizations of all sizes and in all sectors
•This International Standard provides 
•guidelines for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and communicating codes of conduct
•guidelines with respect to continual improvement of codes of conduct
•The International Standard does not prescribe what the substantive content (e.g., the subject matter, the substantive commitments) of codes.
•This International Standard deals exclusively with codes of conduct which are intended to relate to the behaviour of an organisation towards its customers
This International Standard is intended to enhance customer satisfaction with the organization’s products and processes.

  

Definition of External Disputes Resolution for Purposes of the Standard
Facilitative, advisory or determinative processes undertaken outside an organization to address an unresolved customer complaint regarding the organization’s products or processes
•This International Standard is intended for use by organizations of all sizes and in all sectors
•This International Standard provides:
•guidelines for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and communicating external dispute resolution processes
•guidelines with respect to continual improvement of external dispute resolution processes
•This International Standard is intended to enhance customer satisfaction with the organization’s products and processes.
•

Table of Contents for Codes of Conduct Standard

Foreword

•Introduction
•Scope
•Normative Reference
•Terms and definitions
•Guiding Principles
•Codes of Conduct Framework
•Planning and design
•Operation
•Maintenance and Improvement
•Customer Communications Regarding the Code
•Annexes
 

 

•Table of Contents for External Disputes Resolution Standard

Foreword

•Introduction
•Scope
•Normative Reference
•Terms and definitions
•Guiding Principles
•External Disputes Resolution Framework
•Planning and design
•Operation
•Maintenance and Improvement
•Customer Communications Regarding External Disputes Resolution Processes
•Annexes
Conceptually Linked Titles of Codes, Complaints Handling and External Disputes Standards
•Quality Management: Customer Satisfaction – Guidelines on Codes of Conduct
•Quality Management: Customer Satisfaction – Guidelines for Complaints Handling
•Quality Management: Customer Satisfaction – Guidelines for External Disputes Resolution
 

Proposal for Re-Numbering of Three Standards

Currently, the ISO International Standards numbers allocated for the three standards do not convey their linked, sequential operation:
External disputes – ISO 10001
Codes of conduct  -- ISO 10002
Complaints Handling – ISO 100018
Proposal that the three standards be sequentially re-numbered -- e.g. ISO 100024 (codes), 1900025(complaints), 100026 (external disputes resolution)

•
Identification of Compatibility/Operability Between Codes and DR Standards

Shared concepts/terms include: codes of conduct, complaints handling, external dispute resolution, customer, customer satisfaction, product, process, quality, effectiveness, efficiency, objectives, policy, top management, personnel, audit, maintenance, continual improvement, requirements, quality management

•
Assessment of Relation of Codes Standard to Other Standards

Codes of Conduct Standard is designed to operate in a manner compatible with:

• ISO 9000: 2000 Quality Management Systems – fundamentals and vocabulary
•ISO Quality Management -- Customer Satisfaction – Guidelines on Complaints Handling
•ISO Quality Management – Customer Satisfaction –Guidelines on External Disputes Resolution
•
 

Assessment of Relation of DR Standard to Other Standards

External Disputes Resolution Standard is designed to operate in a manner compatible with:

• ISO 9000: 2000 Quality Management Systems – fundamentals and vocabulary
•ISO Quality Management -- Customer Satisfaction – Guidelines on Complaints Handling
•ISO Quality Management – Customer Satisfaction –Guidelines on Codes of Conduct
•
 

Long-Term Workplan for both Codes and DR Standards

Meet approximately once every six months, for at least two days on codes of conduct standard, and at least two days on external dispute resolution standard

•Likely take at least two years to complete the two standards (and no longer than three years)
•April 2004 (meet separate from TC); October 2004 (meet with TC); April 2005 (meet separate from TC); October 2005 (meet with TC)
•Anticipated publication of both International Standards in the Spring of 2006
 

•Short-Term Workplan for both Codes and DR Standards

Next meeting is in Ottawa, Thursday April 29 – Sunday, May 2.  WG 13 (codes) meets April 29 – 30. WG 12 (disputes resolution) meets May 1 – 2.

•Sub-group of each WG prepares and distributes first drafts of both standards to full WG. The first drafts will the design specifications developed this week. Distribution will take place at least one month before the next working group meeting in April 2004.
•After the Ottawa meeting, the next meeting will be in October 2004 with the full TC 176

 

External customer dispute resolution mechanisms (ECDRS), and  Codes of conduct  Kernaghan Webb has provided examples of the use of such codes of Conduct in Canada. 

Market-based Codes of Conduct

Noting that merchants and others are increasingly developing codes of conduct, and making claims about those codes of conduct to consumers, COPOLCO observed that to date there has been no internationally agreed set of criteria for the development, content and use of codes of conduct, with the result that both merchants and consumers alike have difficulty knowing which code claims are credible and verifiable and which are not. 

COPOLCO considered it important to develop a set of essential criteria for effective codes developed by both demand and supply side interests in order to give consumers the confidence to deal with traders who comply with a code based on criteria established by a reputable and well recognized international body, i.e., ISO, and also to give guidance to merchants about how to develop effective and credible codes of conduct. Currently, in response to consumer and other marketplace demands, at both the international and domestic level, claims are being made by organizations about their codes of conduct, but there is considerable marketplace confusion concerning these claims. Recently, both domestic and regional governments have indicated their dissatisfaction with the current situation and a desire for a corrective solution to the problem. Those who operate codes have also indicated awareness of deficiencies in their own code development and implementation processes.

The objective of the proposed International Standard is to enhance fair trading in the marketplace by harmonizing the use of claims about codes. It is anticipated that benefits will include accurate and verifiable claims that are not misleading, a reduction in marketplace confusion, facilitation of international trade, an increased opportunity for more informed purchasing choices, and improved quality of codes.

The International Standard would establish procedures for code development and implementation to ensure that claims about codes can be substantiated and are verifiable. It should be emphasized that the proposed International Standard does not in any way prescribe what should be the content of codes: this is for individual organizations to decide.

The creation of the proposed International Standard can provide the consistent high quality in claims made about codes wanted by businesses, consumers, and government.

 

External Customer dispute resolution systems  

External customer disputes schemes have become popular for domestic transactions in many countries (e.g., in banking, insurance, communications, direct marketing, cars, better business bureaus) and are also being adopted in the e-commerce

Experience suggests that when guidance is provided about what constitutes fair and effective consistent and credible dispute resolution, customers and industry both benefit.

The proposed standard is intended to establish a set of consensus-based essential criteria for developing and implementing external customer dispute resolution systems. Such an external system would be available for either a business or its customer to give an avenue of appeal when a supplier cannot remedy a complaint internally.

This standard is intended to provide optimal levels of c consumer protection and be of application on a global level, within individual jurisdictions, and across jurisdictions. In those jurisdictions where effective regulatory dispute resolution mechanisms already exist, the standard would be available (if necessary) as a supplement or complement. In those jurisdictions where there is minimal or no regulatory framework the standard may play a more significant role. The standard would be particularly appropriate to address dispute resolution in cross-border contexts, such as with respect to electronic commerce. It would not be envisaged that the standard would undermine consumer’s statutory rights.  

While this standard is primarily intended to address business to consumer transactions, the approach may prove useful in other contexts.  

The ISO member voting tally was identical for both proposals: 10 members in favor; 3 members not in favor and 3 abstentions  (See voting results excerpted from  ANNEX 1 to COPOLCO 4/2003)   The United States; Japan and Turkey opposed the new work.  While the proposals passed,  the result of consultation among ISO members about an appropriate forum for the development of the two work items  was not conclusive. The ISO TMB subsequently  held further discussions and  passed the following resolution:

Technical Management Board resolution 82/2002

COPOLCO NWIPs

The Technical Management Board, noting the positive result of the votes on the work items, decides to allocate to ISO/TC 176/SC 3 Quality management and quality assurance /Supporting technologies the following items: External customer dispute resolution systems Market based codes of conduct

Five of the 10 yea votes (UK; Denmark; Canada; South Africa; and The Netherlands) volunteered to participate in a standards activity. ISO TC 176 is the parent committee for the ISO 9000 Quality Systems standards. The Secretariat for the   ISO TC 176 SC3 (see scope) is the Nederlands Normalisatie-instituut.    See  ISO/AWI 10001 and  ISO/AWI 10002

The United States participates in the TC176 and SC3 activities through the Technical Advisory Group for TC 176 administered by the ASQ (see at   http://standardsgroup.asq.org  )

 
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