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Due December 4: Comments on Proposed New ISO Field of Activity on Consumer Warrantees and Guarantees


11/18/2015

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has submitted an updated proposal for a new field of activity on consumer warrantees and guarantees. As the U.S. member body to ISO, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) invites all interested stakeholders to submit comments on the proposal by the end of the business day on Friday, December 4, 2015.

The work item proposal, submitted by ISO’s Committee on Consumer Policy (COPOLCO), notes that the standard is intended for use by producers or sellers of goods and services to offer best practices and requirements for effective warranties and guarantees when these are provided with their goods and services. A warranty is a contractual promise by the seller [to a consumer] regarding the quality, character, or suitability of the goods it has sold.

The updated proposal, which initially passed ISO voting in 2012, has been updated to reflect content related to other countries and online shopping, and was re-submitted for vote, as the ISO recently received an offer from DSM (Malaysia) to undertake the secretariat the project committee.

The document explains: “The economic importance of product warranties is to provide insurance against unsatisfactory product performance.” In some instances, businesses may mislead customers on their right to have a purchased product (or service) repaired or refunded if it does not function, and may refer customers to wholesalers, manufacturers, and regulators without disclosing information on the status of their repairs or refunds. The proposed area of work would also be relevant to e-commerce and online shopping, which continues to expand, and would cover consumer rights when business is conducted online and across borders.

Stakeholders who would be impacted by this proposed area of work include consumers, who would get some degree of assurance that they will retain redress if and when things go wrong, among other benefits, and suppliers, who have a competitive advantage in that consumers will purchase goods that have a warranty that conforms to an international standard. Additionally, an international standard would help regulators communicate requirements to the relevant stakeholders better.

The proposed area of work may influence the work of ISO Technical Committee (TC) 290, Online reputation, and any international standards which deal with business-to-consumers information about products and services. It also draws on the ISO/IEC Guide 14:2003, Purchase information on good and services intended for consumers.

U.S. stakeholders are also invited to review the updated proposal here and submit comments to Steve Cornish, ANSI director of international policy (scornish@ansi.org), by close of business on December 4, 2015. Based on the input received, the ANSI ISO Council (AIC) will then be asked to approve an ANSI position and comments to be submitted to ISO before its January 14, 2016, deadline for voting on this proposal.

ANSI has published an explanatory information document outlining the process used to develop U.S. positions on issues and activities under consideration by ISO and IEC. Click here to download the document.

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