Vulnerable Consumers Policy

At Newton & Co our staff are trained in how to identify vulnerable consumers of which may not be able to make a fully informed decision about the services we offer. These include those suffering a bereavement, illiteracy, illness, disability or other impairments. Our friendly staff will listen carefully and identify needs of each of our customers and adjust our approach accordingly.

Typical signs we look out for are as follows:

• Does our client appear confused?
• Does our client know what is being discussed?
• Does our client ask unrelated questions?
• Does our client understand what you are saying?
• Does our client hear the complete conversation or are they missing important bits?
• Does our client ask us to speak up or speak more slowly?
• Does our client keep wandering off the point in the discussion and talking about irrelevancies or things that don’t make sense?
• Does our client keep repeating themselves?
• Does our client say ‘Yes’ in answer to a question when it is clear they haven’t listened or understood?
• Does our client that they don’t understand their bill, a previous phone conversation or recent correspondence?
• Does our client take a long time to answer questions?
• Does our client sound flustered or out of breath, indicating they may have a lack of mobility due to age or illness?
• Does our client say “My son/daughter/wife/husband deals with these things for me”?
• Where there is a language barrier is our client vulnerable as they may not fully understand what is being said to them?

From a practical point of view, when dealing with vulnerable consumers, our staff will;

• Aim to speak clearly and enunciate
• Aim to be patient / empathise/ listen carefully
• Aim to guide a phonecall/ email/ conversation to keep it ‘on topic’
• Aim to give the client time to explain fully – and not interrupt or show impatience
• Aim to repeat anything that is not understood
• Don’t rush them – if they need to put the phone down to find account details it could take
• Aim to clarify understanding at every point posing the question “is there anything you’d like me to explain?”
• Aim to ask the client to explain to you what they understand the agreement to be
• Aim to offer alternatives to dealing with things by phone/ email – maybe they would prefer to meet face-to-face
• Aim to distinguish between verbal cues and agreement e.g.
• Aim to explicitly and clearly confirm all the important information
• Not assume that the client is sighted – they may be unable to read details or small print
• Not assume that the client can hear everything you are saying – they may have a hearing impairment
• Not assume that a client fully understands all the implications of an offer/agreement.
• Ask a client if there is anyone else they need to talk to before making the decision.
• Ask a client if they understand the consequences of making, or not making, this decision?
• Ask a client if they understand and can process information about the decision?
• Ask a client if they need to discuss this with anyone else”
• Ask a client if they would you like us to explain any parts again
• Ask a client if they want to think about something before making a decision
• Ask a client if there is anything we can do to help them deal with us
• Remember that vulnerable consumers can sometimes be forgetful or overly trusting
• Make sure that the consumer is not flustered, agitated or in an emotional state when they make a decision