A significant change to the member Code of Ethics will be announced shortly. Specifically, Section 7 is revamped.
Changes to the COE will affect anyone participating in any program where client data is provided to third parties. This is not limited to a single vendor or single product or service.
The key term in the revised COE is “consideration”. Consideration is the sole critical component in any enforceable contract. Absent of consideration, contracts are virtually unenforceable. Ask any attorney. Don’t take my word for it. Although compensation and consideration sound familiar, consideration is quite broad. It includes barter, exchange, rebate, incentives, etc.
Unlike the Pledge which states that an inspector will never accept compensation or consideration in exchange for client information, the COE does not. This is fine, and appropriate. The purpose ot the COE changes is not to limit the iinspector’s marketing opportunities, but to simply disclose their existence, where the data is going (precisely), what it is being used for, and disclose the compensation or consideration.
For instance, if you are giving something worth $50 that you have actually PAID for out of pocket, there is no need to disclose this. If you receive the item worth $50 (or $1) from a third party in exchange for client data, it must be disclosed.
Also, it required the clients expressed written consent. This means an opt-out may not suffice. Expressed written consent is an acknowledgement of an offer. An initial in the contract margin next to the clause will likely be okay.
Ask an attorney if there are questions. Provide him/her the COE section which applies (Section 7).
Do not take my word for this or the word of any interested party for that matter.
Steer your own boat, but understand the channel markers.
The COE changes will NOT affect your ability to participate in ANY third party program which is contingent upon client data,
It will NOT affect your ability to make money. It simply clarifies how the programs work, where the data is going, and what the consideration is. It also reveals the existence of a relationship between the inspector and the third party.