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ISO Consumer update

No. 03 - July 2010

….An update of ISO's activities regarding standards and consumer protection, for the members and stakeholders of the ISO Committee on consumer policy (ISO/COPOLCO).

ISO/COPOLCO is ISO's forum for promoting consumer interests in standardization. Its mission is to:

  • Enhance the market relevance of International Standards by promoting and facilitating the input of consumers' views into ISO's policies, procedures, standards and services
  • Help consumers around the world benefit from standardization.


 

Contents

 

What's happening …

ISO/COPOLCO engages in broad study of financial services issues for consumers

Around 120 representatives of consumer associations, public authorities, universities and national standards bodies from 30 countries attended an international workshop, Restoring consumer confidence in global financial services – can standards help?, held on 26 May in Bali, Indonesia at the invitation of the Standardization Agency of Indonesia (BSN).

Dr. Bambang Setiadi, Chair of BSN, explains the significance of the COPOLCO workshop.
Dr. Bambang Setiadi, Chair of BSN, explains the significance of the COPOLCO workshop.

The participants highlighted the need to explore innovative models for the development and provision of financial services for consumers.

The group especially noted the spectacular rise of mobile phone use for financial services such as credit, payments and remittances, particularly in developing countries. The lack of banking infrastructure, and ineligibility for financial services due to poverty, are some reasons for this phenomenon.

There are a number of different protocols for the exchange of financial data over mobile phone networks, and participants strongly recommended concerted action by ISO and other standards organizations to direct efforts into producing one set of internationally recognized criteria.

The group also discussed lending by microfinance institutions and cooperative societies. These activities could potentially benefit from international standards; a number of organizations with different business models have emerged.

Microfinance institutions have filled a pent-up demand for affordable, accessible and transparent contract terms for small business loans in many developing countries. In Indonesia alone, one provider has served five million small business owners active in Jogjakarta and other large markets. These services allow poor traders in many countries to avoid resorting to private money lenders who charge interest rates of 10-30% per month for their services.

 

Raising the stakes in financial services for consumers

The workshop highlighted the urgency of re-evaluating the potential for standards to improve design and delivery of financial services to consumers. A COPOLCO working group will investigate gaps in consumer protection and collect examples of best practices, in order to develop specific recommendations.

The study will investigate:

  1. ethical practices and the provision of financial information and disclosure;
  2. examples of best practice, including provisions from the future international standard, ISO 26000, Guidance on social responsibility;
  3. existing good quality information design and disclosure by financial service providers to cover priority consumer financial products such as pensions, credit cards, debit cards, certain insurance products, consumer loans and investments;
  4. problems of unfair conduct including aggressive marketing practices and disadvantageous contract terms,
  5. questions of liability, enforcement and redress.

For more, follow this link.

At the COPOLCO plenary meeting which took place on 27-28 May just following the workshop, the delegates decided to develop a New Work Item Proposal for an international standard on customer contact centers (call centers).

COPOLCO members also gave the green light to further consultation and development of a proposal for an international standard on consumer product warranties.

See the March 2010 issue of ISO Consumer update for more details about these proposals.


Consumers International celebrates 50 years

Originally named International Organisation of Consumer Unions (IOCU), Consumers International (CI) has come a long way since its beginnings in 1960. Starting with five consumer organizations, CI has grown to over 220 members in some 115 countries.

At the COPOLCO plenary meeting, Consumers International presented some highlights from its past 50 years of activity.

CIs-fifty-years
 Consumers International presented some highlights from its past 50 years of activity.

In the 1970s, CI achieved consultative status at the United Nations. The 1970s also saw CI opening its first regional office in the Asia Pacific and launching many campaigns, including the International Baby Food Action Network.

In the 1980s CI coordinated the set-up of the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) and spearheaded the United Nations' adoption of the UN Guidelines on Consumer Protection, with subsequent inclusion of the concept of sustainable consumption. CI also opened another regional office for Latin America.

In the 1990s CI opened its first office in Africa and published a consumer protection Model Law for the continent. More recently, CI published its recommendations for an International Code on the Marketing of Food to Children, and was appointed to the UN Advisory Board on sustainable consumption to represent the global NGO community.

For more about CI's fifty year celebrations, follow this link.

Starting in 2002, CI participated actively in deliberations leading to ISO's decision to launch work on an international standard on social responsibility, which will culminate with the publication of ISO 26000, Guidelines on social responsibility by end 2010. CI has been key to coordinating the consumer stakeholder group participating in the development of ISO 26000.

According to CI's Website, "A 50th year survey of CI found that ISO 26000 was voted as one of  CI members'  top three achievements. With sustainable development and consumer protection as key strategic priorities, ISO 26000 will be a well received birthday present and a symbol of what a successful consumer lobby can help to achieve".

For more about CI and social responsibility, follow this link.

 

 

What's new in International Standards

Proposed ISO Technical Activity on Nutrition and Dietetics 

The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) has submitted a proposal to ISO for a new field of technical activity on nutrition and dietetics (ISO/TS/P 213).

According to the proposal, ISO/TS/P 213 will guide standardization in the field of nutrition and dietetics services, covering intervention programs, nutritional clinical practice, and nutrition in emergency response. Standards will address the preparation and serving of institutional and household foods, detailing terminology, nutrition assessment tools and methods, and food measurements. Criteria for nutrition supplements, advertisements and promotions, and training in nutrition and dietetics will also be included.

The proposal can be found here (password protected). Comments can be submitted through your national standards body.  National positions are due at ISO by 21 August 2010.

 

Measuring customer satisfaction with new ISO technical specification

ISO has developed a new technical specification, ISO/TS 10004:2010, Quality management – Customer satisfaction – Guidelines for monitoring and measuring, which provides guidance to organizations in establishing effective processes for monitoring and measuring customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is one of the key elements for the success of an organization, whether in public or private sector.

The information obtained from monitoring and measuring customer satisfaction can help identify opportunities for improvement of the organization's strategies, products, processes and characteristics that are valued by customers, and which serve the organization's objectives. Such improvements can strengthen customer confidence and result in commercial and other benefits.

For more, follow this link.

 

ISO 26000 on social responsibility approved for release as Final Draft International Standard

The way is now open for the publication of ISO 26000, Guidelines for social responsibility, which gives guidance on social responsibility, as an International Standard by the end of year. The multi-stakeholder ISO Working Group on Social Responsibility (ISO/WG SR), which includes experts and observers from 99 ISO member countries and 42 public and private sector organizations, approved the draft ISO 26000 for processing as a Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) at its 8th plenary meeting in May 2010 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

For more, follow this link.

 

ISO toughens toy safety for hazard-free and fun play

Millions of toys have been recalled around the world because of hazardous levels of lead or cadmium, choking hazards, dangerous magnets and other safety hazards. Two new standards in the ISO 8124 toy safety series aim to reduce the risk of a child being injured by unsafe equipment or dangerous substances. These new standards are:

  • ISO 8124-3:2010, Safety of toys – Part 3: Migration of certain elements, and
  • ISO 8124-4:2010, Safety of toys – Part 4: Swings, slides and similar activity toys for indoor and outdoor family domestic use.

"There is no question that ISO 8124 is a cornerstone of the global toy safety network," said Arnie Rubin, CEO of Funrise and President of the International Council of Toy Industries, in a recent interview in ISO's magazine, ISO Focus+. "Assuring the safety of children has been our industry's priority."

For more, follow this link.

 

 

Around the world … COPOLCO member news

CANADA

Chair of ISO/PC 243 calls members to action

Dr. Elizabeth Nielsen, Chair of ISO/PC 243, Consumer product safety is inviting all members of ISO/PC 243 to attend forthcoming meetings. These are planned to be held in Vancouver, Canada, on 12-14 August 2010; Santiago, Chile in November and tentatively in Australia in March 2011. The group is close to developing a committee draft of ISO 10377, Guidance Standard - Consumer product safety: A practical guide for suppliers.

This international project committee was established to provide practical guidance to those in the consumer product supply chain (including designers, manufacturers, importers, distributors, retailers, and other producers of consumer goods), on how to identify, assess and eliminate or reduce the risks to consumers associated with the products they manufacture, import or sell. It is intended to help them in determining, documenting and implementing the best approach to reduce the risks and consistently design, produce, purchase and market safe products as required by the laws of many countries.

One of the main target groups for this guidance standard is small and medium sized enterprises who often are not aware of what needs to be done or do not have the capacity to carry out the complex analysis. The future standard will also benefit those in developing countries who may not have a robust regime by providing an international benchmark to protect their consumers and facilitate access of their products to international markets.

The aim is to promote the trade in consumer goods, promote consumer confidence and competitiveness, and at the same time protect consumers against risks to their health and safety. To obtain further information about participating in the development of this standard, contact your national standards body, or the ISO/PC 243 Chair, Dr. Elizabeth Nielsen, at knielsen@magma.ca.

 

NEW ZEALAND

Rating water efficiency

The New Zealand Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme (WELS) was introduced on 1 April 2010. The scheme is designed to provide information to consumers buying products that use water. The New Zealand WELS is underpinned by a series of joint Australian/New Zealand Standards, particularly Water efficient products – Rating and labelling AS/NZS 6400:2005.

In announcing WELS, New Zealand Minister of Consumer Affairs Heather Roy said, "Water efficiency labels have an easy-to-use zero to six-star rating system – the more stars an appliance has, the more water efficient it is. The labels will also provide water consumption information based on litres per minute, cycle or flush. This information will help consumers make informed decisions and access benefits associated with reduced water consumption – particularly hot water consumption, which can lead to reduced energy bills. Being able to reduce water use lessens demand on water supply infrastructure and may avoid the need to invest in new plant or storage lakes, or to extract more water from rivers. It is also important for those consumers who pay for water, or who have restricted supplies."
In New Zealand, WELS regulations were developed by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and implemented by the Ministry for the Environment. The Commerce Commission is responsible for compliance and enforcement of the WELS regulations.

For more, follow this link.

Consumer advocate wins Standards New Zealand excellence award

Consumer advocate Patricia Cunniffe was recently presented with the Standards Council Award for Outstanding Contribution to Standards and Standardization.

Patricia Cunniffe
Patricia Cunniffe (center), with Standards Council Chair Richard Westlake and Hon Lianne Dalziel in Wellington.

Patricia has been a consumer representative on national Standards committees for over 10 years, and has been a consumer rights advocate for decades. As Standards New Zealand Chief Executive Debbie Chin said at the annual Standards New Zealand Meritorious Awards event held in Wellington, "Patricia has earned the esteem of consumer advocates, industry representatives, and regulators alike."

In her acceptance speech, Patricia noted that "respect and consensus are two of the trademarks of Standards committees. It’s imperative that consumer representatives are involved at the decision-making level in Standards development."

 

THAILAND

New TIS Standards for consumers

The Thai Industrial Standards Institute (TISI) has published a mandatory standard on stainless steel-seamed stockpots, TIS 2440:2552 (2009), due to the wide use of such products as cookware for cooking noodles. This standard is expected to help protect consumers nation-wide. The main focus of this standard is safety related to contamination, corrosion resistance, production technique, properties of materials, and marking and labelling. For the latter, a statement prohibiting repair of the product with lead soldering, or a mixture of lead and other metals, is required.

In addition, the TISI standard on gas lighters, TIS 879:2551 (2008), has been revised. Amendments include sparking requirements for the spark magneto lighter, where the force used was changed from 5 N to 15 N; thermal resistance, for which the temperature was changed from 55° C to 65° C to obtain a safer product, and compliance ensured with ISO 9994:2005, Lighters – Safety specification. Some requirements were also revised, and ISO 9994:2005 is referred in the test methods.

 

 

Did you know …?

Some 1.2 billion persons have a mobile phone …..but have no bank account.

 

To find out more...

Visit us in the consumer section of ISO's Web site, ISO Online, www.iso.org. Consult: "Resources for ….. Consumers".

Is the ISO member in your country a member of COPOLCO? If not, encourage this national standards body to join COPOLCO!

For a full list of ISO members, see http://www.iso.org/iso/about/iso_members.htm.

Is your organization a member of Consumers International? Find CI at www.consumersinternational.org.

Questions? Comments? News to share? Subscription requests?
We would like to hear from you!  Contact us at copolco@iso.org.

 

ISO Consumer update is a free service by the Secretariat of the ISO Committee on consumer policy (ISO/COPOLCO).
Editor: Ms. Dana Kissinger-Matray, Secretary of ISO/COPOLCO.

ISO Consumer update gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the Marketing, Communication and Information services of the ISO Central Secretariat.

 
 

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