Consumer, the Kiwi non-profit that started in 1959 to delve into the quality of products of services and investigate consumer issues, has launched a business accreditation scheme.
New Zealand has a range of accreditation programmes covering everything from environmental and safety practices to employment, training and product quality - and various schemes in particular industries.
Consumer NZ boss Sue Chetwin says this programme, Consumer Trusted, plays to its strengths. "It's way of us extending our programme of testing of products and services to whole businesses but certainly we're using our trusted and independent brand to do it.
"There are others out there. None of the others have quite the same history and mana that Consumer does."
Consumer Trusted is based on a Code of Conduct for the accredited business, which includes the right to exchange or return for a full refund a non-perishable product within 30 days of purchase; no bond charge for returning faulty goods; refunds for products worth over $100 that go on sale within a week of purchase; and advisors to help customers of the accredited business.
It also uses eight principles: excellent customer service; fair, clear returns and refunds policies; an informative and up-to-date website; fair complaints and disputes procedures; fair and easily understood contracts; clear pricing; no exploitation of customer details and accurate advertising.
A big business will pay about $25,000 to be accredited, with smaller firms charged in the low thousands, says Chetwin, adding companies will be re-certified each year initially.
Consumer wants to add about 25 companies to the scheme by the end of the year, she says, including a mix of small and large firms.
It also wants to add recognition of sustainable practices and environmental awareness to the programme in future.
Accredited companies can also offer benefits to consumer members, with 2 Degrees and Powershop already offering discounted services.
Companies that are accredited are given a brand mark to display.