Secure your cash flow: Disclose your legal trading entity

Your clients have the legal right to understand exactly who they are dealing with. If they don’t, you could find yourself with agreements being void and not getting paid for the work you do…

Imagine it – business is booming and you have just had one of the strongest quarters to date.

Then suddenly, your customers stop paying and you have no legal way to get your money as a result of not abiding by trading laws and disclosing your legal trading entity.

But what is the legal trading entity?

In a nutshell, it’s the name of the business used for tax purposes. It’s the ‘legal’ name of the person or entity that owns it.

If you’re a sole trader, a plasterer for example, then the legal trading entity of your business is your name with or without your initials or forenames.

So, if your name is Richard James Smith, the legal name for your business could be Richard James Smith, Richard J Smith, Richard Smith R. J. Smith, R Smith or simply Smith.

If you trade under a name which does not include your surname, for example, Phoenix Plastering Services you would have to give your surname to every current or potential client.

For example Smiths Phoenix Plastering Services or Richard Smith trading as Phoenix Plastering Services together with an address at which you can be contacted. In legal parlance an address at which you will accept the service of documents.

For unincorporated partnership in gets a little more complicated as the legal trading name is the last names (with or without initials or forenames) of all of the partners.

For limited liability companies, partnerships and corporations, the business’ legal name is the one that was registered with Companies House including Ltd, LLP, PLC etc. In addition, there are specific disclosure requirements for these types of business including full corporate name, registered office address, registered number and place of registration.

The trade or business name is the name a company uses for advertising and sales purposes. It’s imperative you understand that this is different from the legal trading names previously described.

It’s a legal requirement that your legal trading entity is included on all business documents and their electronic equivalents which include invoices, letters, emails and websites.

If you’re a business that may trade under a different name to your legal trading entity and may be unsure of the rules, get in touch with the Crimson Crab team today.

Know your customers cancellation rights – they’re a pretty big deal!

Failure to inform your retail customers of their rights to cancel the use of your product or service may have serious ramifications to your business.

Without clarity on cancellation rights, it can become more of a challenge to resolve any disputes which may arise, so it’s important for any business owner (and their team) to clearly set out their company’s approach to cancellations.

In this month’s blog, our focus is on two core areas regarding cancellation rights for consumers. Selling without face to face contact and selling away from your usual trade premises.

If you don’t understand what the law means to your business it may well jeopardise your reputation.

The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013

Its name is quite a mouthful but it’s important for any business that deals with consumers to understand how the rules on cancellations work.

A consumer is someone who is buying something for their own use which, means that they are not buying it for their business, or profession.

The law states if a consumer goes to a shop to purchase goods or services, they have no right to cancel a purchase UNLESS they are given rights to do so by the sales contract or any agreement in place. This is often referred to as a Returns Policy. This does not apply where goods are faulty or misdescribed or a service is not provided to a reasonably competent standard.

Cancellation rights apply when a consumer buys something online or through a catalogue or away from the trader’s usual premises, so for example in their home or at a craft fair.

Whether you’re a tradesman providing a service, or an independent business selling telecoms contracts, it’s essential you inform your customers of their rights to cancel when they have one.

By doing this you are making it clear that they can cancel – within the set down 14-day time period – and move on to elsewhere, hassle-free.

It’s worth noting when someone buys something online (the purchaser) they get 14 days to cancel as long as you tell them about their cancellation rights.

If you as the trader fail to tell them and explain how they can be exercised, the purchaser has up to one year to cancel and you have to refund the purchase price, cost of delivery and pay for the return costs in full.

Cancellation must be distinguished from Termination of a contract. This has a very specific legal meaning.

Termination is where someone has breached the conditions of the agreed contract. It’s a get-out clause for either party who have failed to adhere to what was agreed.

It is a criminal offence not to tell a consumer they have cancellation rights if they are completing agreements off-trade premises.

Be sure to tell your clients about their cancellation rights – even more, so where failing to inform them could cost your company money!

To summarise, every business must understand the rights their customers have to cancel and should always clearly share these before any transaction takes place.

For further information about cancellation rights please get in touch.  

Three don’ts to protect your customer relationships

The relationships any organisation has with its customers is important if it is to succeed. Also, the retention of clients is a pretty big deal.  

But, at times, we understand our working lives can be testing and offering excellent customer service may be a challenge.

However, within any context, business owners and their teams must strive to deliver a strong service to its clients if it wishes to achieve a positive reputation… while protecting it too!

That’s why our top three don’ts are to support you with protecting the relationships you have with your customers.

  1. When things go wrong, don’t ignore them!

Most businesses treat their consumers well. How do we know this? Because, if they didn’t, there would be no business.

But what happens when things do go wrong? Firstly, it’s important you don’t bury your head in the sand if something, such as a complaint, takes place. Be prepared for any negative response from your clients; have a clear complaints process and be genuinely ready to help people when they’re not happy.

  1. Breathe! Don’t respond on the hoof…

Your focus must always be on protecting the relationships you have with your customers.

To have someone walk away after using your service or product with a negative opinion can be detrimental to how other people perceive your offering.

We’re only human, so it’s understandable if you’re upset as a result of some negative feedback.

Nonetheless, take a moment to consider how you are going to approach your response, as well as how what you say will have the ability to preserve an existing relationship.

  1. Understand the law behind consumer complaints, and don’t neglect it!

There is law around dispute resolution, complaints and mediation, so it’s important you understand what is appropriate/what isn’t if you’re to address the negative experience of a consumer correctly.

Let’s use a complaint from a customer as an example. Businesses have to comply with rules and regulations when dealing with an issue.

These rules don’t necessarily change from one industry to the next, but some sectors do offer an alternative dispute resolution.

Fancy some bedtime reading? The Consumer Rights Act 2015 is a good place to start.

The Act consolidates consumer protection law and legislation while also providing consumers with their rights and remedies, so it’s an essential read for any business that deals with consumers.

For further details on how to protect your consumer relationships, and the best tips on what to do if something does go wrong, get in touch with Crimson Crab today.

 

Crab Insight August 2020

Red Tape Busters Volume 7, Issue 11, Protect

Welcome to the August edition of Crab Insight

The positive relationships any business has with its clients will help it thrive and survive – but there are things you must do to protect the bond between you and your customers… That’s why PROTECT is our word of the month! Don’t forget Crimson Crab is always on your side, ready to help you rise to the challenge. Stay safe.

Claudia Crab’s August Focus

Claudia the Crimson Crab icon

“If you deal with consumers respect their rights and comply with the standards of trading.”

If you deal with retail sales and have consumers as your customer there are a plethora of rules and regulations that apply, including:

  • The Consumer Rights Act 2015
  • The Consumer Protection from Unfair Commercial Practices Regulations 2008 – control unfair practices and create criminal offences for traders that breach the regulations.
  • The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013
  • The Provision of Services Regulations 2009

The law covers:

What you sell:

  • Goods
  • Digital content
  • Services

Where you sell it:

  • On-premises sales
  • Off-premises sales
  • Sales made at a distance

How you sell it:

  • Consumer contracts
  • Good practice
  • Pricing and payment

Other key areas to consider:

  • Underage sales
  • Food & Drink
  • Product Safety
  • Animals & Agricultural Products
  • Weights & Measures

Whatever you do you need to respect consumers rights and comply with certain minimum standards of trading.

To fail to do this can lead to serious consequences including being prosecuted by a regulator such as Trading Standards or Environmental Health.

Top tip – A great starting point to find out where you are, is our Business MOT


F2 Business Huddle Online

The next FREE

F2 Business Huddle online

is on

Friday 14 August 2020

12 noon to 2 pm

It’s going to be the biggest ever

F2 Business Huddle

– so far

All the favourite features that you have come to know and love at the F2 Business Huddle – online


Reputation Advocates

When you need a reliable and dependable expert click on the crab

Accredited Crimson Crab Reputation Advocate Logo
Feedback

We love to receive feedback and it really helps us to improve our services for everyone.


Until next month look after your reputation!!

Ethical, legal, responsible trading wave
T:023 9263 7190 | E: enquiries@crimsoncrab.net | W: www.crimsoncrab.co.uk

Copyright (c) 2020 Crimson Crab Ltd, all rights reserved.

Is my company’s website legal?

Building a website is easy, right? With the click of a few buttons and some vibrant graphics, you’re ready to go. Yes, perhaps, but is it compliant?

Even though your website is your organisation’s shop window, it’s important for it to look good and entice your target audience, it’s also crucial for it to be legally compliant.

But – what does that mean and how can you ensure it is compliant? 

All websites must conform to the Data Protection Act (and GDPR Regulations).

“If a business can’t show that good data protection is a cornerstone of their practices, they’re leaving themselves open to a fine or other enforcement action that could damage bank balance or business reputation.”

“Three-quarters of us don’t trust businesses to do the right thing with our emails, phone numbers, preferences and bank details. I find that shocking.”

Elizabeth Denham UK Information Commissioner

Your website is a powerful tool to grow your business – but can also be detrimental to the business if it isn’t compliant.

That’s why our tips are some of the top things to consider when it comes to your company’s website.

Always have a valid reason: Personal information from individuals and organisations can be useful for many reasons – but do you have a valid reason to use it for your intentions? Be clear about WHY you’re collating peoples’ details – and what it’ll be used for. Always give them the opportunity to give you permission in the correct way if you need to.

Security is key: If your website isn’t secure, you’re leaving yourself and your visitors susceptible to hackers and cyber-attacks. Don’t be responsible for this!

Is your privacy information in check? One of the most important documents on your website – above any information about what you sell – should be your privacy notice. Many businesses use a privacy policy, whatever you call it, it must contain specific information about your use and processing of personal data and if it’s not there you are not covered. Feel free to get in touch for more details.

Crab Insight July 2020

Red Tape Busters Volume 7, Issue 10, Profile

Welcome to the July edition of Crab Insight

What has been your biggest learning in recent weeks, and how will this change the way you present yourself to people?

Our word of the month for July is PROFILE, it’s all about how you will present yourself so as to stand out from the crowd in a digital-focused world?

Crimson Crab is on your side and ready to help you meet the challenges ahead.

Stay safe.

Claudia Crab’s July Focus

Claudia the Crimson Crab icon

“A website is a shop window to the world – it is also a great way to showcase breaches of the law”

If you have a website you need to make sure that you comply with the law in the following areas:

Disclosure

You should identify yourself correctly and give an address at which you can be contacted, there are specific requirements for a registered business, (e.g. Ltd, PLC, LLP).

Copyright

It’s imperative that you protect your copyright effectively and make sure that you do not breach other peoples copyright. It makes sense to also have a document setting out the terms of use of the website.

Disability Discrimination

Businesses have an obligation to make reasonable adjustments to help disabled individuals access their goods, facilities and services. The Equalities Act 2010 requires that websites are accessible to disabled people including Blind people. One way of meeting this responsibility is for website owners to comply with the WCAG 2.0 standard at Level AA the UK Governments recommended best practice for accessibility. 

Data Protection

You need to make sure that you comply with the Data Protection laws (including the GDPR) for all contact forms and any personal data collection. You also need to make sure that you have an appropriate Cookies policy detailing the cookies used and their purpose (and for example use a pop-up or other means to obtain ‘consent’).

Provision of Services

If you provide any services on or offline you have to make sure you comply with the Provision of Service Regulations. They require service providers to make available contact details where information requests and complaints can be sent, together with other specified information.  One way of complying is to include the required information on a web page and proactively provide the link to clients when discussing your services.

E-commerce

When using a website for e-commerce purposes then you still need to comply with the law that relates to a bricks and mortar outlet along with some special rules for an online business.

So there must be for example no unfair commercial practices and suitable control of sales of age-sensitive products (e.g. alcohol, tobacco, fireworks, knives, solvents, videos & games). If any products are sold to which safety legislation applies, for example, toys, bicycles, electrical goods the rules have to be followed, as they do when food of any type is sold. 

The Consumer Contracts Regulations require that you provide certain information when selling online, and also require you to tell the customer about their right to cancel the purchase within 14 days (not 7 any more). Failure in this respect can mean that the customer can enjoy a much longer cancellation period (up to 12 months)!

You also have to be careful to comply with the requirements of Card Providers and you cannot make additional charges for using such payment methods.

There are also rules around the way that complaints are dealt with and the provision of access to Alternative Dispute Resolution and the European Commissions Online Dispute Resolution Platform.

Top tip – We can check out your website


F2 Business Huddle Online

The next online F2 Business Huddle is FREE

It’s on Friday 10 July 2020

12 noon to 2 pm

It is going to be the biggest F2 Business Huddle ever – so far

All the favourite features that you have come to know and love at the F2 Business Huddle – online


Reputation Advocates

When you need a reliable and dependable expert click on the crab

Accredited Crimson Crab Reputation Advocate Logo

Feedback

We love to receive feedback and it really helps us to improve our services for everyone.


Until next month look after your reputation!!

Ethical, legal, responsible trading wave
T:023 9263 7190 | E: enquiries@crimsoncrab.net | W: www.crimsoncrab.co.uk

Copyright (c) 2020 Crimson Crab Ltd, all rights reserved.

Why are Terms and Conditions important for my business?

Terms and conditions (T&Cs) – the small print – is understandably not the most exciting of issues for you to focus on, but they are crucial to safeguard your company and its clients.

Trusting peoples word is good, but it’s not enough if things go wrong.

What is the point in having Terms & Conditions for my business? Are they required by law? When did I last read the small print before signing on the dotted line?

Questions like these may be floating around in your head – so let’s clear up some of the negative connotations you may have when it comes to terms & conditions, and work towards building your understanding of their value.

Protect yourself

Even when your terms are written and signed, it doesn’t necessarily make them legally secure. When you are dealing with a non-business customer, according to the Gov.UK website: “A contract term and notice has to be fair to be legally binding on your customer. If it isn’t, they can challenge it – including in court if necessary.” There is also legislation which limits the extent to which one party can avoid liability through the use of exclusion clauses such as disclaimers in any contract.

Terms & conditions which are fair to your client have the power to protect your business if or when someone that has agreed to purchase your services doesn’t stick to what was originally agreed. It would be unwise to provide a service without terms & conditions with thorough but fair terms you will have more of a leg to stand on to protect yourself.

For example, if you sell something online a non-business customer gets a right to cancel the purchase for any reason within fourteen days of delivery. If you don’t tell them about that right they can have a year to cancel. You have to give a full refund including all postage charges.

Protect your clients

Whether you are operating as a B2B or B2C enterprise, nothing you achieve now would be possible without your customers. Every business needs the money to prosper – it’s economics – so why would you not want to protect your clients and reassure them in the process?

When you invest time to write your terms, place yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask yourself about how they may read and access them.

Review your Terms & Conditions

It’s best practice to review terms on a regular basis – perhaps once a year or every time you change an element of your service – make it a part of your annual plan, to ensure they continue to be robust for your business, they are fit for purpose and continue to reassure clients who purchase your product or service.

It’s also worth noting and understanding what ‘force majeure’ means. It’s written into contracts to cover situations where unforeseeable circumstances prevent a person from fulfilling a contract. So – in a nutshell – when something goes pear-shaped your business and clients remain protected.

For more information or to discuss this topic further, get in touch with our team.

Online endorsements

As business owners we know that a positive online endorsement can help sell our products and services.

Checking out blogs, vlogs and other online endorsements is an increasingly common way for people to decide what particular product or service to buy.

It is not illegal for businesses to pay people or publications to promote their products in online articles.

BUT the people that publish such content, both the businesses that want to get their products endorsed and any media agencies that place endorsements all need to make sure that the consumer knows that the endorsement has been paid for.

Misleading consumers may breach consumer protection law. Also the UK Advertising Codes, published by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), contain rules to ensure marketing communications are easily identifiable.