Facebook icon Twitter icon Forward icon

ISO Consumer update - No. 27 - September 2016

An update of ISO's activities for 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.

Our 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.

What's your country doing for consumer participation?
Why does consumer participation matter, and how can you get your voice heard?

What's happening

ISO's General Assembly: achieving sustainable growth through standards 

Through standards promoting wise resource management and environmental protection, ISO actively supports many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals ratified in 2015. Sustainable development and trade were some of the major themes of ISO's General Assembly and other governing body meetings taking place in Beijing on 12-14 September 2016. 

High-level Chinese officials, including the country’s Premier Li Keqiang, highlighted the importance of International Standards at the Open Session, “Standards Improve Global Connectivity”, on 14 September. 

Speaking to a gathering of over 500 representatives from national standards bodies, international organizations, public authorities and business, Premier Li stressed the importance of standards to help China improve its economic performance.

Also at the annual meeting of the Committee on developing country matters (ISO/DEVCO), Cecile Fruman, World Bank Group Director, Trade and Competitiveness Global Practices, cited a Memorandum of Understanding signed between ISO and the World Bank and reaffirmed standards as essential to trade. The SDGs are likely to "both shape the environment for standards and also be shaped by standards”, but that standards’ contribution to trade was particularly important.

Workshop report: 'Global services: ISO standards as solutions'

The final report from the international workshop on services held in Geneva on 13-14 June 2016 is available! All materials (agenda, presentations, photos etc) can be accessed on the event website. This workshop was held in the context of the implementation of ISO's strategy for service standardization.

Services in healthcare and government are receiving lots of press: Are you getting good service in healthcare? Can things be improved? 

See more on ISO’s work on services and #servicestandards.

The new consumers and standards report is available!

Which key areas are of particular interest to consumers in standards?

See the annual report and project overview of emerging themes. including vape, government services and more.

These are also on our homepage and resources section.

Consumers International on mobile banking standard ISO 12812

Mobile banking is taking off everywhere. An agent of development, it enables microfinance. Africa's mobile ecosystem added
$153 billion to the African economy in 2015 – another reason why standards are needed to ensure trust in mobile services, especially financial ones.

Robin Simpson and Sadie Homer, Senior Policy Advisors at Consumers International report on their work preparing the new international standard on mobile banking.

Reducing insurance losses – through standards

The first workshop of the ISO Committee on conformity assessment (ISO/CASCO) for the insurance industry, Supporting the reduction of insurance losses – the role of standards, is on 25 November in the heart of the global insurance market: the City of London.

Since the management of risk is at the heart of both the insurance industry and ISO standards, this will unite experts to debate pressing issues such as insurability in an era of disruptive technologies, smart cities, and Big Data. It will explore the potential for closer mutual efforts to deliver greater benefits.

For more information contact Anna Koroleva (koroleva@iso.org). Spread the word to colleagues and interested stakeholders!

What's new in international standards

Helping communities develop sustainably

How can a community become sustainable? What strategy should it adopt? A new ISO standard will help communities answer these questions and become more sustainable and resilient, especially in the face of rising economic, social and environmental challenges. 

Helping communities adapt to ageing populations 

The fact we are living longer is a real – and growing – issue for many governments and community providers, increasing demands such as for healthcare and safety. A new International Workshop Agreement provides a foundation on which more solutions can be built.

First International Standard for sustainable procurement nears publication

Procurement makes up a substantial budget of any organization, so wouldn’t the world be a better place if it was done in a sustainable way? 

#worldsmartcity2016Slides & videos now available 

Smart Cities promise improved quality of life for the world’s estimated 3.9 billion urban dwellers, while at the same time allowing better, more efficient use of resources and improved security. However many barriers limit Smart City development. Key pain points that inhibit Smart Cities were under the spotlight at the
first World Smart City Forum, held in Singapore on 13 July 2016.

A new series of Human Resources standards put people at the heart of organizations

If an organization’s greatest asset is its people, it makes sense that putting people at the heart of its operations is a recipe for success. A new series of ISO standards aims to help not only improve the recruitment process, but improve businesses through
better human resources.

Around the world …


Defining Consumer Protection in the Digital Age
Robin Simpson, Consumers International's (CI) Senior Policy Adviser, represented CI at the OECD Ministerial Meeting on The digital economy innovation, growth and social prosperity in Cancun, Mexico. He spoke on Consumer Trust and Market Growth.

Consumer trust and protection are inherent and essential to increase consumer use of digital money services globally
Thus, Consumers International is participating in the United Nation’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Focus Group on Digital Financial Services and its working group dedicated to the topic of Consumer Experience and Protection. Jami Solli, Senior Policy Adviser at CI, reports.

Data as a defining consumer issue 
Speaking at the International Symposium on Rule of Law and Consumer Data Protection in Beijing, CI’s Director General Amanda Long outlined why data is fast becoming a defining consumer issue for the 21st Century, and the need to identify effective responses that ensure consumers benefit from this data-driven innovation.


Can you trust online reviews and endorsements? 
The International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) has released guidelines for market participants involved in the collection, moderation and publication of online reviews and endorsements. Global enforcers have found that online reviews and endorsements are proving useful to consumers when, for example, booking travel accommodation and other travel-related products and services. It is important that consumers can trust the reviews and endorsements they use to help make these buying decisions.


More consumer news!

The Asia and Pacific Consumer Policy Council has released its second consumer newsletter. Asia-Pacific countries are strongly encouraged to contribute!


2016 Consumer Markets Scoreboard

Market performance has improved, but more efforts are needed in telecoms and energy.  "We can see from this year’s Scoreboard that consumer-friendly rules, market reforms, as well as effective enforcement of consumer rules, have made consumers more confident in the markets", said Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality. "We must keep this encouraging trend going, especially for markets that still underperform, like telecoms and energy. That's why consumers are at the heart of the Commission's priority projects, like the Digital Single Market and the Energy Union."

The Consumer Scoreboards are used by national policymakers and stakeholders to assess the impact of policy over time and compare the situation between Member States. The Commission uses the findings of the Consumer Markets Scoreboard as evidence to develop its policy.

ANEC: The European consumer voice in standardization

ANEC President, Arnold Pindar, was one of the co-signers of the Joint Standardization Initiative with the EU Commission, reinforcing the message that only strong consumer participation in standardization will help the Single Market deliver for consumers.You can find out more on why consumer participation in standardization is crucial in this blogpost.

ANEC's first blogpost on Consumer Champion, a capacity building programme for European Consumer Professionals, ‘Standardization: for industry only?’ answers key questions on standards, such as what standardization is, how it works and what the future holds. It also explains why consumer representation is needed in the writing of standards to ensure products are safe, interoperable, accessible and sustainable.



Standards: helping us to be more informed consumers

See the video featuring Alison Scotland, on how unit pricing can help consumers save money. Unit pricing saves money but is the forgotten shopping tool.



National conference on vulnerable consumers and standards

The Czech Consumer Association organized a national conference, "Vulnerable Consumers and Standards – 2016", with the Cabinet for Standardization, under Swiss-Czech cooperation.

This aimed to define who vulnerable consumers are, and how to include their needs in standards and technical regulations. It drew on the experience of stakeholders present – civil servants, the National Standardization Body (ÚNMZ), professional associations, SMEs, consumer organizations, associations of persons with disabilities and others. About 65 people attended, and there was a press conference. Two booklets issued last year by the Czech Consumer Association (in Czech) informed the topic: 
Accessibility of products and services for vulnerable consumers
and Vulnerable consumers: who are they? How to protect them?

The concluding recommendations drew attention to standardization and its role for vulnerable consumers and all users of goods and services.

The Czech Consumer Association and Cabinet for Standardization performed other activities during the year to promote the development and use of standards. They acknowledge the support of the Swiss Government, the national standards body, UNMZ – which finances several standardization projects – and the Council for Quality of the Czech Republic, which also supports some standardization initiatives. These are examples of good practice on how to support consumer participation in standardization.


US $222k: to focus consumer awareness

A recently approved European Development Fund-sponsored Consumer Protection Project seeks to raise awareness of the rights of consumers in Dominica.The Ministry of Trade under the 10th EDF standby facility requested USD 222'843 for Building Capacity for Effective Consumer Protection in Dominica. The project  ‘Building Capacity for effective Consumer Protection in Dominica’ is to enhance the capacity of Dominica to protect the rights of consumers, to comply with obligations taken as members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States and the Caribbean community. In parallel, another workshop discussed Consumer Protection Law and Policy.


Nano:  invisible – and pervasive

"Le Monde" newspaper decries the prevasiveness and potential risks of nanoparticles in a wide range of everyday consumer products, and the lack of labeling to help consumers make an informed choice. Several products tested by consumer watchdogs failed to meet the French legal requirement to reveal the presence of nano particles. A shame as a standard to help companies better inform consumers of the presence of nanoparticles in consumer goods now exists.


Consumer protection boost nationally  and regionally 

The Central American Economic Integration's Regional Program for Quality Support and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SIECA PRACAMS), boosts regional quality system integration in Standards, Technical Regulations, Certification, Accreditation and Metrology, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (risk and surveillance, traceability, inspection) and private sector support (disclosures). PRACAMS unifies Standards and Technical Regulations for use throughout Central America and Panama; for example, the net contents of pre-packaged products.

It draws on complaints received in the last three years by the Authority of Consumer Protection and Defense of the Competition. ACODECO interacts with consumers – and receives their complaints through a contact center, and a free app. Its department for Responsible Economic Commerce (AER) also resolves trade-related complaints. 

The Consumer Protection and Defense of Competition Law was updated in August to address receiving money of any denomination, tip or gratuity for services rendered, and compliance in rental services parking.


Consumer protection department and national policies

The Saudi Arabian Standardization organization (SASO) is establishing a department dealing with consumer issues.This is to ensure consumer's rights are protected against traders through an authoritative body; and so consumers know their rights. 

The Ministry of Trade and Industry has set up legislation on the return of goods, guarantees and receipts. It has also designed a new app which allows consumers to complain about any issues they face. Also, SASO has designed a new app called Sure, which allows consumers to quickly check if electronic devices are energy efficient. It has recently been extended to tires as well. 

Saudi Arabia is now focusing on adapting customer satisfaction standards in the market to  improve  after-sales  service  and  to build satisfaction and equity for customers.


Safe before sale

Now new chemicals must be found safe before they can be sold. Similar to what exists in Europe under the REACH provisions, where, after their introduction, the burden of proof of chemicals' safety has shifted from consumer bodies and public authorities to companies, the United States now requires new chemicals to be found safe before they can be sold: the precautionary principle. 

Did you know?

Counterfeit – despite its apparent benefits – can end up harming consumers. Be aware of the dangers to protect yourselves and your loved ones.

Upcoming events

International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) conference, 29 to 30 September 2016, Bad Wiessee, Germany - afternoon session by COPOLCO on The ISO way to leveraging voluntary consumer protection networks

ANEC, ECOS and ETUC joint conference: "Making standards serve society” : Exploring how standards can better reflect the needs of consumers, workers and the environment, 13 October 2016

ISO Conformity Assessment Committee's (ISO/CASCO) first workshop for the insurance industry, Supporting the reduction of insurance losses – the role of standards, 25 November 2016, London, United Kingdom

COPOLCO Chair's Group and related meetings, 8-11 November 2016, Geneva, Switzerland

To find out more...

Visit us at ISO under 'Consumers' on ISO's Website, www.iso.org.

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

See the full list of ISO members.

Is your organization a member of Consumers International

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
Writer: Katia Kerswell