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Consumer Rights Adviser Profile


Introduction

This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as Consumer Rights Advisers. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as Consumer Rights Advisers
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Consumer Rights Advisers Work Information


Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

The following description is an overview of what the above job position entails, what kind of salary you can expect, what hours are involved in carrying out the work, where you can find additional information about the job in both web and trade publication formats and the required skills that may help you in looking for employment in this particular field.

Consumer Rights Advisers - An Overview:

Consumer rights advisers deal with queries and complaints from members of the public about goods and services they have purchased.

Most work for local authorities and are based either in 'one stop shops' offering all kinds of advice or in a specialist consumer advice centre, which is usually attached to a trading standards department. Some consumer rights advisers go on to work for the various government watchdogs that have been set up to monitor the performance of utilities, such as transport or water, or for other organisations representing consumers.

Much of the advice given is offered by telephone and, increasingly, online. New services have been developed that only offer advice in this way, such as 'consumer direct', which is supported by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The activities that a consumer rights adviser can be involved in will vary, but typically include:

• responding to enquiries and complaints made in person, on the telephone, or in writing, including via e-mail, on consumer issues;
• interpreting and explaining legislation, official letters or sales contracts to clients;
• mediating in disputes;
• negotiating with the retailer or service provider on the client's behalf;
• giving talks to schools and other interested consumer groups;
• keeping up to date with relevant consumer rights legislation and codes of practice.

A consumer rights advisor’s job falls into five categories as follows:

• information;
• advice;
• referral;
• mediation;
• representation.

The mix of activities varies according to: the post; the type of advice offered; experience and seniority of the adviser. Tasks typically involve:

• responding to requests for help made in person, on the telephone, by letter or e-mail;
• providing information in person, on the telephone, or by offering appropriate leaflets and guides;
• interpreting and explaining legislation, official documents or the content of letters to clients;
• interviewing clients to assess their current situations;
• researching and identifying possible courses of action and advising clients on the options they have identified;
• guiding clients towards taking appropriate action;
• liaising with other organisations;
• producing written material, explanatory leaflets and/or information displays;
• following up information queries on behalf of clients;
• mediating, for example by writing a letter on behalf of a client or attending a meeting with them;
• referring clients to other sources of help, for example solicitors, social workers and human resource managers;
• representing clients in court or at tribunals;
• researching general or specialist fields of advice work to remain up to date with appropriate legislation and procedures;
• writing reports and maintaining and developing own administrative systems;
• training staff, either within or external to the organisation;
• setting up support groups if appropriate.

What level of salary and benefits are there?

These figures are purely for guidance only. Salaries may vary for the area the job is situated in, age, experience along with a host of other factors:

• Typical starting salaries - £12,500 - £24,500.
• Salaries at senior level - £16,000 - £30,000.
• Starting salaries may be higher for advice workers joining local authorities or academic institutions. Starting salaries are relatively low and the highest salaries are for posts that incorporate management responsibility or those based in larger organisations. Salaries are often dependent on external and sometimes unpredictable sources of funding.

What type of hours will I have to work?

A nine to five day is standard, but some organisations may offer advice sessions during the evenings and at weekends. With increasing use of e-mail and telephone advice, irregular hours may be more common, although this depends on the organisation and the service they are offering. Advice work in the independent and voluntary sector can be insecure because of short-term funding contracts. The work is normally office-based and the quality of work environment varies greatly according to who the employer is and what kind of funding and facilities they possess.

What type of skills will I need?

You will need to have some or all of the following type of skills to carry out this job:

Experience in dealing with people and running administrative systems is very important. In addition, potential candidates will need to show evidence of the following:

• excellent communication in both speech and writing;
• interpersonal skills;
• the ability to relate to people from a variety of backgrounds;
• the ability to deal sympathetically with clients and firmly with organisations;
• a caring and sensitive nature;
• a non judgemental attitude;
• resourcefulness;
• flexibility;
• the ability to cope with stress;
• good attention to detail;
• impartiality, tolerance, self-confidence and a sense of humour;
• IT skills.

What type of training will I receive?

Since specific higher education qualifications are not essential for advice workers, training within the profession, even if much of it is informal, is very important. Each organisation is likely to offer its own particular on-the-job training scheme. This might be a combination of induction programmes, being mentored by more experienced advisers or being sent on relevant training courses. These may be in basic counselling skills, specific aspects of the law or relating to gaining an understanding of a particular social issue, such as drug or alcohol dependency.

Career Progression:

For many advice workers, career development is likely to involve a move away from giving advice face to face, at least for part of the time. Promotion is often linked to taking on additional or different responsibilities, such as:

• training new staff;
• developing the work of volunteer advisers;
• working on promoting or publicising the service;
• income generation and financial management.

Although there are also some openings to move into advice bureau or centre management, in general, advice work is a low pyramid offering relatively few numbers of management posts. Some advice centres are co-operatively run, with no hierarchical job structure.

What Sort Of Industries Have A Requirement For This Type Of Job?

Local authorities employ advice workers in various units and centres. Sometimes, these are attached to specific council departments, such as education, housing, social services, youth and community services or consumer advice. In other models, councils run one-stop advice centres where local people seeking advice on any of the areas mentioned above can go for initial advice and referral to the appropriate specialist support.

The National Health Service (NHS) may employ advice workers at community health centres or other locations offering advice on health education or drug and alcohol dependency issues. Some NHS trusts work jointly with local social services, employing staff to offer telephone advice on, for example, issues affecting older people. 

Any Related Types Of Jobs?

Yes. This list is not exhaustive but here are some similar and associated types of role:

Careers adviser/personal adviser (careers)
Community development worker
Consumer rights advice worker
Counsellor
Debt/finance adviser
Employment advice worker
Equal opportunities officer
Health promotion specialist
Higher education advice worker
Housing adviser
Housing manager/officer
Race relations worker
Social worker
Solicitor, non-commercial
Welfare rights adviser
Youth worker.

What trade magazines or publications are available for this industry?

All of the following magazines and journals can be purchased from any good bookstore:

Adviser Magazine.
The Big Issue.
Charity and Voluntary Sector Appointments.
The Guardian.
Inside Housing.
Municipal Yearbook.
Social Services Yearbook.
The Voice.
The Voluntary Agencies Directory.

Where can I find further information?

Further information can be found by visiting any of the following bodies and organisations the addresses and their respective websites are:

Volunteering England (VDE)
New Oxford House, 16 Waterloo Street, Birmingham B2 5UG
Tel: 0845 305 6979
www.vde.org.uk

Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH)
Octavia House, Westwood Business Park, Westwood Way, Coventry CV4 8JP
Tel: 024 7685 1766
www.cih.org

Citizens Advice Scotland
26 George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9LD
Tel: 0131 667 0156
www.cas.org.uk

National Association of Councils for Voluntary Service (NACVS)
117 Arundel Street, Sheffield S1 2NU
Tel: 0114 278 6636
www.nacvs.org.uk

National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux (NACAB)
Myddleton House, 115-123 Pentonville Road, London N1 9LZ
www.nacab.org.uk

Northern Ireland Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux (NIACAB)
Reqional Office, 11 Upper Cresent, Belfast BT7 1NT
www.citizensadvice.co.uk/

Other Useful Consumer Rights Advisers Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Consumer Rights Advisers job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Consumer Rights Advisers Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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