European Consumer Centre Bulgaria

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Can I trust the trust mark?

More uniformity needed for on-line trust marks according to the ECC-Net.

In its report “Can I trust the trust mark?”, the network of European Consumer Centres, ECC-Net,  provides consumers  with a panorama of 54 online trust mark schemes existing in the EU. The report details criteria to assess how  trust marks achieve their objective of guarantying that their members offer good commercial practices, security and privacy for consumers. The main problem is the lack of uniformity in the various features offered by these schemes, according to the ECC-Net.

The report builds on a web survey of 573 European consumers from 19 countries which confirmed both that consumers value trust marks but lack knowledge about their caracteristics and reliability. The ECC-Net analysed, from a consumer perspecitve, in detail 54 trustmarks schemes existing in the EU. The results show big differences between them, both across countries or within a single country.

The report contains detailed tables for all the schemes examined in order for consumers to compare their characteristics in an easy and accessible way. Information is available on aspects such as  membership, cooperation with ADR or ODR schemes, certification process, inspections, revocation of trust mark, blacklisting.

Trust mark areas that can be improved:

  • Make it mandatory to participate in ADR/ODR shemes and to comply with decisions or recommendations.
  • Provide on the trust marks’ websites and on the traders’ websites an internal complaint handling system where consumers can address their problems with a certified trader.
  • Provide transparent and clear rules for checkup procedures. Imposing exclusively, or partially external checkups of members.
  • Providing multilingual information and service.

It is clear that consumers are faced with a"jungle" of trust marks and also to a certain vagueness of their rules. It is therefore difficult for consumers to decide if the trust marks can be really trusted, and what added value they bring.

The ECC-Net recommends that trustmarks are developped according to uniform best practices, minimum rules or mutual codes of conducts could be established on a pan-European level by business associations collaborating.

It must be easier for consumers to get informed of the concepts on which the various trust marks operate. Multilingual information from trust marks on their own and their members websites would be neccessary to also inform consumers shopping cross border.

The web survey also showed that consumer reviews are used frequently when shopping, 82 % reads reviews before a purchase. It is the opinion of the ECC-Net that there is a need to look into, assess and evaluate how this tool for raising consumer awareness and confidence doesn’t spin out of control and mislead, rather than guide, consumers in the future.

For more information:

Ignat Arsenov – Director of ECC Bulgaria

02 986 76 72
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