IFSA Code of Practice
1.1 Introduction – Why we have a code of practice
1.1.1 The International Feng Shui Association (IFSA) has as one of its primary objectives to establish, maintain and support a credible and effective system of self- regulation that will meet the reasonable expectations of consumers and businesses regarding the conduct of the Feng Shui Industry and of its members.
1.1.2 IFSA has set standards of ethical conduct and best practice to be followed by its members in this Code of Practice. IFSA reserves the discretion to refuse or withdraw Membership to an applicant who does not conform to this code of practice.
1.1.3 Members, undertake to adhere to the Code and accept that a breach of its terms may result in disciplinary proceedings. Members accept further, that they will accept and abide by any conclusion reached by the Code of Practice Committee (defined in Part V below) in such proceedings, subject to any right of appeal to the Executive Committee of the IFSA.
1.1.4 The Code is intended as an instrument of self-regulation for Members. It lays down principles to be adhered to by them in their practices or related activities and sets out accepted practices in the conduct of their business which they regard as being in the interests of their customers and the broader public. Its purpose is also to promote the highest quality standards, greater consistency and deeper understanding of the way in which the industry operates.
1.1.5 The Code is also the reference document to which recourse is needed in any dispute between a Member, its customers and the general public and between Members themselves.
1.1.6 IFSA has established a "Code of Practice" Committee of the International Feng Shui Association, which is responsible for supervising and monitoring the operation of the Code of Practice.
1.2 Interpretation - Definitions
1.2.1 For the purposes of the Code, the word "advertisement" is to be taken in its broadest sense and is to include all forms of marketing communication, including textual, visual, electronic or door to door.
1.2.2 The term "offer" means any presentation of goods or services with the intention of soliciting orders for their purchase or lease.
1.2.3 The term “Unsolicited Commercial Communication” means all communication targeted at an individual who has not requested the information and with whom the advertiser has no previous or existing relationship.
1.2.4 The term “Advertiser” means any company (including sole traders, partnerships, charities and political parties) which initiates a commercial communication to promote its products or services.
1.2.5 The term “Sender” means any company (including sole traders and partnerships), on behalf of the advertiser, distribute a commercial communication through any communications network.
1.2.6 Members should note the distinction in language adopted in the Code. The use of "shall" indicates a specific binding requirement; the use of "should" is less binding but indicates a requirement by which it is expected Members would abide but from which a departure could be accepted in light of certain circumstances.
1.2.7 The Code of Practice Committee’s determination of what is considered "reasonable" in the context of the Code shall be final.
1.3 Obligations of Members
1.3.1 Members undertake to honour the Code in the spirit as well as in the letter: in other words, not to treat its provisions as obstacles to be circumvented by legal ingenuity. IFSA, in seeking compliance with these standards, will therefore pay as much or more regard to the spirit shown towards the consumer than to the literal reading of any specific provision of these standards.
1.3.2 Members acknowledge, in addition to the obligation to their customers, an obligation to the general public, to each other and to other businesses.
1.3.3 This obligation comprises the use of selling-methods that are consistent with high standards of integrity, in promises that are honest and intelligible, in performance that matches promises, in terms that are fair and equitable and in products or services that match claims.
1.3.4 Members shall not produce for dissemination or dispatch literature or other material which is vulgar, dishonest, indecent, illegal or likely to cause widespread offence to recipients or others. Furthermore, Members shall report to IFSA any such material of which they become aware so that it can consider issuing advice to other Members.
1.3.5 Members are expected to comply in all respects with legislation affecting their businesses. Any breach of such legislation resulting in a conviction or the serving of an order or notice may be considered as a disciplinary matter.
1.3.6 Members should pay attention to the relevant legislation not stated herewith and recognize that compliance with the Code does not necessarily guarantee compliance with relevant legislation.
1.3.7 Members shall not copy the material of another Member or another's business so that there might be confusion between them in the public eye.
1.3.8 Members shall seek to act fairly and reasonably in their business and customer relationships.
1.3.9 Members undertake to ensure that they do nothing which could damage the public image of Feng Shui Practice or of the Association. Members are encouraged to strive to enhance the stature of Feng Shui Practice.
1.3.10 Members shall recognize that in the context of this Code they are normally responsible for any actions (including the content of advertising) taken on their behalf by their sales agents, their agencies, their direct marketing suppliers and others.
1.3.11 A Member acting as an agent or supplier for a non-Member's direct marketing activity shall encourage and advise the non-Member to act within the Code. If the non-Member client does not take that advice, the Member shall insist that the Code is followed in respect of any work in which the Member is involved, as a condition of acting for the client.
1.3.12 Recognizing the status that is accorded to Members in their Membership of IFSA and their adherence to its Code, Members are encouraged to include the symbol of IFSA in their direct response advertising or selling communications, other than in simple advertisements intended to keep the name of the Member in the public eye. Similarly, Members are encouraged to display it in correspondence, including invoices and billing reminders, to their customers and the public. A guide to Members on the use of the symbol is contained behind.
1.4.1 IFSA “Seal of Integrity” Symbol
- The International Feng Shui Association has been created to, inter alia, display an authoritative, responsible and consistent image to business, other organisations and to the public at large.
- The "Seal of Integrity" symbol of the Association is designed to convey these functions.
- Only Members may use the symbol, and so declare their adherence to the Association's standards of excellence and integrity.
- Members of the International Feng Shui Association can be identified from the Association's symbol. Members are generally required to include this in all advertisements and selling communications.
- By using the symbol correctly and consistently, Members will play their part in presenting the industry in a professional way, and helping it to be better understood. The guidelines which follow are intended to ensure consistency in the use of the symbol so that it is always distinct and legible.
1.4.2 Instructions for the use of the symbol by members
- The symbol may be used on Members' stationery, advertising and promotional material, and in exhibition displays. Used in this way the symbol declares Membership of the Association and identification with its objectives.
- It shall not be used on products or packaging, or in any way that implies endorsement by the Association of any particular product. that implies endorsement by the Association of any particular product.
- Material for printing should be prepared using only the approved artwork and official colour for the symbol, which is available to Members from the Association.
1.4.3 Use of the symbol in advertisements / stationery
- When used in advertisements, the symbol confers on the Member's service a stamp of authority, good practice and assurance to a respondent.
- The symbol may be used in other applications, including leaflets, flyers, and catalogues.
- If Members wish to use the symbol in applications other than those mentioned above, or if they are in doubt about how to use it correctly, they should consult the Association.
2.1 General Rules - Rules that apply to all channels/situations
2.1.1 A Member's offer means any presentation or solicitation in respect of goods or services available for supply by the Member.
2.1.2 A Member's advertisement is to be taken in its broadest sense to include any form of advertising for goods, services or facilities, irrespective of the medium used.
2.1.3 Member's advertising shall be legal, decent, honest and truthful. Every advertisement should be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility and should conform to generally accepted principles of fair competition. No advertisement should be such as to impair public confidence in advertising generally and in direct marketing in particular.
Advertisements should not be framed in a manner so as to exploit the superstitious or play on fear to induce people to purchase goods or services.
2.1.4 Particular care shall be taken not to send to minors offers suitable only for adults and attention is drawn to Paragraph 1lI.2.4 below regarding their eligibility to participate in a Prize Draw or enter a Prize Competition.
2.1.5 As an advertiser, a Member shall express itself clearly and without ambiguity so that respondents shall know exactly what they are being offered and to what they are committing themselves when replying to an advertisement. The advertisement should, where appropriate, include accurate details of quality, quantity, supply, price and terms of business, that would apply to any respondent.
2.1.6 A Member shall not issue a misleading advertisement nor give false or misleading indications as to price, value or quantity.
2.1.7 Every advertisement that could directly result in a respondent entering into a continuing commitment for goods or services shall include a short, simple statement of the essential points of the offer, clearly displayed, for the respondent to keep. Such a statement shall include the Member's name and the full address.
2.1.8 Where it is not possible to include these points except on the order form to be returned to the Member, the Member shall supply the respondent with such a statement together with the goods; this statement should display the Association's symbol.
2.1.9 A Member shall not make any claim regarding their products or services unless it can be substantiated.
2.1.10 Members shall ensure that nothing in any advertisement, catalogue or other material could reasonably lead respondents to believe that their rights at law are in any way diminished or removed.
2.1.11 Published material such as catalogues and lists of goods and/or services for sale shall clearly state the Member's name and the full postal address at which the Member can be contacted during normal business hours.
2.1.12 The requirements of this section of the Code do not preclude a Member from also stating in an advertisement another address to which respondents are to send their orders.
2.1.13 Recognizing the status accorded to Members by their Membership of the Association, Members are encouraged to include in catalogues or promotion material, together with the Association's symbol, a statement to the effect that: "We adhere to the Code of Practice of the International Feng Shui Association and undertake to deal with any complaint speedily and sympathetically. If a complaint cannot be resolved directly with us, we provide the opportunity for it to be referred to The International Feng Shui Association or *an appointed industry body."
No testimonial shall be used unless the Member is able to substantiate its authenticity. No testimonial or endorsement shall be used unless it is the genuine and informed opinion of the person giving it and permission to use it has first been obtained. The commendation of a product should not appear in quotation marks unless the source is identified and verified.
3. CUSTOMER SERVICE
Members shall at all times aim to give prompt and courteous service to respondents and clients. Where a Mailing House or other agent is used for fulfillment, the responsibility for this and all other aspects of customer and client service remains the responsibility of the Member.
Members shall keep an adequate record of orders received for goods or services.
3.2 Queries and Complaints
Members will recognize that many complaints, when taken in isolation, are minor in themselves; but these can quickly assume major proportions when coupled with a train of events involving failure to reply, broken promises, vague assurances and a defensive or evasive attitude. Occasionally, therefore, complaints can arise which cause a high degree of frustration, leading to criticism of the industry. This damages the public image of direct marketing, reflects upon the quality of its goods and services and is liable to bring the Member and the Association into disrepute. Members should therefore investigate complaints received from customers, or on consumers' behalf from local consumer advisers or other intermediaries, promptly to assess their validity. If the complaint is complex or cannot be dealt with adequately within 5 working days of receipt, then it should be acknowledged with an indication of when a full reply can be expected. Where a complaint is found to be justified, Members should settle it quickly, effectively and courteously. If a complaint is not justified the Member should explain politely why. Once again, Members are encouraged to display the Association symbol on such correspondence. If the customer is still not satisfied, the Member should advise the complainant of the service provided by the IFSA. Members shall maintain an adequate system of monitoring queries and complaints about their goods and standards of service so that appropriate remedial action can be taken promptly.
A Member shall return all money paid in advance by the respondent upon the return of the advertised goods and services:
(a) where, for whatever reason, the product or service does not conform to the description of it contained in the offer; or
(b) where the respondent has expressed a wish to be reimbursed because of unreasonable delay in the dispatch of the order; or
(c) where the Member is otherwise in breach of its statutory or contractual obligations.
4. THE “CODE OF PRACTICE” COMMITTEE
4.1 Role and Composition of the Authority
4.1.1 A committee of IFSA will administer and supervise the Code of Practice and consider complaints from Members of the public and companies using Members' services, regarding the treatment they have received from a Member. These complaints may be received directly or may have been referred by another self-regulatory or consumer body. The committee will always seek to conciliate such complaints but, when appropriate, it will adjudicate upon them within the provisions of the Code.
4.1.2 The committee will comprise a chairperson and 4 members being appointed by the Executive Committee of the Association, at least 1 member of the committee should be *an independent person. (* non-IFSA member)
4.1.3 The committee will also respond to a complaint addressed to it against a company which is not a Member, advising the complainant and/or referring the complaint to a competent body.
4.1.4 The committee may make visits to Members to review procedures and to discuss current issues.
4.2 Complaints against and Disputes between Members
4.2.1 The committee will investigate complaints against Members when complainants identify themselves and set out their complaints in writing or when a complaint is referred to it by a statutory, advisory, self-regulatory or enforcement body. Before investigating a complaint, the committee will consider whether it is, nevertheless, the appropriate body to do so, in the light of the nature of the complaint.
4.2.2 Where the complaint concerns the supply of goods or services, a disagreement over an account or other customer service problem, the committee will invite the Member to attempt to settle the matter directly with the complainant and report to the committee.
4.2.3 When the committee considers it not appropriate to handle a complaint in the manner described above or it is an alleged or possible infringement of the Code:
(a) The committee will, except when the complainant can be answered satisfactorily without reference to the Member, put the complaint to the Member and invite an explanation.
(b) The committee will review the explanation and, if it considers it necessary, invite the Member to discuss it.
4.2.4 Where the committee rejects a complaint, it will inform the complainant in writing of the reasons for its decision and, where appropriate, invite any further comment the complainant may wish to make in writing.
4.2.5 If the committee is unable to effect a conciliation or otherwise fails to satisfy the complainant, it will advise the parties of the possibility of recourse to the relevant authority.
4.3 Infringements of the Code - Adjudications and Sanctions
4.3.1 Where the committee concludes that, prima facie, an infringement of the Code has taken place, it will provide an opportunity for the Member to answer the allegation, including, where necessary or when requested by the Member, issuing an invitation to a meeting with the committee.
4.3.2 For the purpose of Adjudication, the quorum shall be the Chairperson, the independent member and at least one of the industry Members.
4.3.3 If the committee is satisfied that any infringement was not intentional and an undertaking is given by the Member that it will not be repeated, no further action may be required.
4.3.4 Nevertheless, if the committee concludes that an infringement of the Code or any previous undertaking under X3.3 has occurred, it may admonish the Member formally and, if it considers it appropriate, publish a statement to that effect setting out its reasons.
4.3.5 The committee may, however, conclude that the seriousness is such as to merit either the Suspension or the Expulsion of the Member from the Association.
4.3.6 If the committee recommends the Suspension of a Member, it will inform the Member and the Executive Committee of the Association accordingly.
4.3.7 An appeal against Suspension may be made by the Member to the next meeting of the Executive Committee. If the recommendation is upheld, the term of Suspension shall run from the date of the determination of such appeal.
4.3.8 Whilst under Suspension the Member shall not be entitled to use the Association's symbol (other than on advertising already in final process and upon approval by the Codeof Practice Committee) nor to imply in any manner whatever Membership of the Association.
4.3.9 The same procedures shall be adopted if the committee recommends Expulsion of the Member.
4.3.10 Upon the Suspension or Expulsion of a Member from the Association, the committee and the Executive Committee may notify the appropriate industry bodies and may issue a joint public statement, giving reasons for the Suspension or Expulsion.
4.3.11 Voting upon a proposal for Suspension or Expulsion of a Member by the committee shall be by simple majority of those present.
4.3.12 No member of the committee or of the Executive Committee associated with the Member being adjudicated upon, shall sit as a member of the committee or of the Board in considering an appeal of Adjudication or an appeal of a recommendation for Suspension or Expulsion.
5. REPORTS TO THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
The committee shall, as occasions may arise, comment on and / or make recommendations (including any amendments to the provisions of the Code of Practice from time to time) to the Executive Committee of the Association concerning aspects of the Code of Practice.