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Subject: Re: UKNM: Which webtrader scheme
From: Steve Johnston
Date: Mon, 20 Mar 2000 20:01:42 GMT

Okay, I can't resist this thread any longer.

As a former Director of Development at the IMRG ( Interactive Media in
Retail Group http://www.imrg.org/ - all round good egg industry body
promoting standards and all that) I feel suitably qualified to contribute to
this matter.

When you learn that the Which Web Trader scheme was concocted by the
Consumers Association' s Commercial Director (slight paradox that) - a man
whose commercial instincts always struck me to be in direct conflict with
the ethos of the CA - you might begin to understand why it is failing to
deliver. The Web Trader scheme was created as a revenue generator by an
organisation that previously had spoken wisely if lately and a little
naively on the subject of internet shopping. The CA had little if any
credibility in the issues surrounding e-commerce when they proposed the
scheme, but through sheer weight of the Which? brand and a seeming lack of
real concern about the issues ahead launched it anyway. We told them at the
time we thought it was flawed.

Whilst at the IMRG I wrestled big time with the update to the IMRG's Code of
Practice for E-commerce ( http://www.imrg.org/hallmark/code.htm ) and with
the problems in providing a meaningful frame of reference for online traders
and with the attempt to create a self-funding mechanism for policing it. To
some extent the IMRG both succeeded and failed in this regard. I am very
satisfied that the IMRG Code is a valuable reference, but we failed to find
a way in which the organisation could support a mechanism for policing it to
the satisfaction of the industry, so we didn't go for big, high profile
stuff, and the Code of Practice remains a voluntary scheme. The IMRG
struggles on with these issues and deserves support (well I would say that
wouldn't I).

Whether or not the CA really care about policing is hard to tell, what I do
know is that the webtrader scheme's genesis and the challenges of responding
to complaints and sanctioning offenders will consign it to uselessness. So
avoid at all costs, is my advice.


Steve Johnston
steveatjohnston [dot] co [dot] uk
t: +44 (0) 7050 6050 33
f: +44 (0) 8707 3455 33

*********** REPLY SEPARATOR ***********

On 20/03/00, at 15:09, Ian Fenn wrote:

>Ian wrote about Which webtrader:
>>And they also make a pretty poor job of leading by example. Upon initial
>>application, you are told it will take 1 month to process, and also told
>>strictly not to contact them during that period.
>>We had to resubmit, due to a couple of non compliances, and we still
>>heard back two months later. Now if we offered our customers service like
>>that ....
>The situation isn't any better if you contact them as a consumer. They
>continually failed to respond within the time limits they set members to
>achieve and it was only after I emailed the director of the consumer
>association that I finally received a response - and rather worthless it
>was too.
>It's annoying as certain ISPs are spreading the myth that a web retailer
>may only be considered reliable if they are a member of the scheme.
>I wonder if http://www.trustuk.org.uk/ will be any better?
>All the best,
>Ian Fenn MA
>Member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals
>http://www.chopstix.net/ - Chinese cooking on the web!

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  UKNM: Remeber the Kozmo thread...?, Dan Winchester
  Re: UKNM: Which webtrader scheme, Stefan Magdalinski

  Re: UKNM: Which webtrader scheme, Ian Fenn

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