Consumer rights advisers deal with consumer complaints and provide information, advice, and guidance to members of the public about items and/or services that they have purchased.
The majority of consumer rights advisers are employed by local authorities and work for trading standards departments, in specialist consumer rights advice centres and in general advice centres. Opportunities also arise with government watchdog organisations that monitor the performance of specific companies such as utilities and public transport operators.
Duties range from interviewing clients, assessing problems and writing reports to mediating in disputes on behalf of clients and providing legal representation in court. Other responsibilities include:
dealing with general enquiries about consumer issues
providing advice via the telephone and online
maintaining records and information systems
preparing and distributing publicity materials and displays
interpreting/explaining legislation, sales contracts and/or official contracts
negotiating and/or acting as an intermediary with service providers/retailers
maintaining awareness of changes to codes of practice and consumer rights legislation
liaising with other relevant organisations
Previous paid or voluntary relevant work experience will help with entry into the profession. This can be gained by helping in a local advice centre or students' union welfare office. There are also volunteering opportunities with Citizens Advice.
Personality and relevant experience are usually more important than qualifications, although a degree in law, counselling, guidance, psychology, education, social/community work, public administration or social sciences can be helpful.
Key skills for consumer rights advisers
Resourcefulness and good verbal and written communication skills are essential, as is a mature, confident, caring and patient manner.