The UK top ten sectors most complained about includes: train operators, computer companies, holiday and tour operators, airlines, internet service providers, bank and finance companies.
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
- compiling statistics
- preparing and distributing publicity materials and displays
- interpreting/explaining legislation, sales contracts and/or official contracts
- researching cases
- 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
Vacancies are advertised online, in local, regional and national newspapers and in specialist publications such as Adviser Magazine.
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.
Resourcefulness and good verbal and written communication skills are essential, as is a mature, confident, caring and patient manner.