Before trading please find out what consumer law may apply to you.
Avoid committing criminal offences. We would rather advise you than prosecute.
Advice from trading standards
Small businesses are increasingly targeted by dubious marketing schemes which provide little benefit. Examples notified to Trading Standards include:
- Business Rate Reduction
Schemes offering investigation of and appeals against the level of business rate. Very few businesses have received a reduction. The Valuation Office Agency is an executive agency of HM Revenue & Customs and deals with enquiries about business rates. More information can be obtained from their website.
- Grant Availability
Scheme promises to search for available Government or EU grants. Businesses with no hope of obtaining grants are persuaded to pay the standard charge.
- Charity/Public Service Adverts
The promoter's telesales staff will imply that they are organising a diary or wall planner for a charity or a public emergency service, which is not the case. The journal or wall planner will be published but its circulation is limited to those who advertised in it.
- Fax/Internet Directories
Unsolicited invoices often from companies based out of the European Community, for entries in Fax, Internet or Trade Directories.
- Photocopier Leases
Hard sell tactics used by commission paid salesmen have led to businesses signing contracts involving costly settlement terms, obscure and steep escalation in service charges and contracts for periods much longer than the life of the equipment.
- Data Protection Registration
The Information Commissioner is responsible for administering and maintaining the public register of data controllers. The current fee payable for registration is £35 and VAT is not payable. More advice is available from the Information Commissioner’s website.
- Debt Collection Agencies
Unsolicited phone calls will offer to collect outstanding business debts for an up front fee. Some even offer an insurance backed guarantee (which is not available for such a service). You should avoid any agencies which ask for an up front fee as opposed to payment by results.
- Domain Names
Be wary of the sales tactics of some internet domain name registration agents. Typically the agent informs the business that a third party is interested in - if not on the brink of - registering close variants of their name.
A very short time interval is then offered for the business to pay to register these domain names with the agent before the third party is able to.
Such registration agents never seem able to substantiate the existence of the third parties.
In these circumstances we suggest you first contact your internet service provider (ISP) or your usual domain name registration agent.
To avoid falling into these traps businesses should:
- Shop around
- Take time to think
- Read contracts with care
- Do not agree to a verbal contract over the phone