Here we deal with:
1) Terms and Conditions of business,
3) Accreditation and Regulation,
4) Consumer Protection and Consumer Rights,
5) Disability Discrimination,
6) Sales Channels (Internet, remote, off trade premises)
7) Provision of Services
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!
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 youwill 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.
Claudia Crab’s July Focus
“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:
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is an interesting question which the group I was in debated at the F2 Business Huddle on Friday 10th February 2017.
Funnily enough on 13th February the BBC reported that customers of a large retail brand are being overcharged by out of date offers read more…
Without going into too much detail of contract law, the price marked on goods is called an invitation to treat. The customer offersan amount of money which may be acceptedby the retailer (or it may not). Of course, if the customer’s offer is the same as the amount marked on the goods the retailer is more likely to accept it, but the important point is that they don’t have to.
That is why a retailer is perfectly correct to refuse to sell a 50″ Flat Screen TV which has been mis-priced at £49.99 when it should be £349.99. What they should do is withdraw it from sale rather than just charging the higher price. Because if the retailer charges more than the price marked on the goods then they may breach The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. This is also the case when the till is programmed with a higher price to that marked on the goods.
Do remember that, although not often used in retail shops in the UK, haggling is perfectly feasible.
Carrying out unauthorised credit business is an offence punishable by up to two years imprisonment or a fine or both. It can also mean that any agreements made are unenforceable and can be taken into consideration if an application for authorisation is made.
An individual carrying out a consumer credit business, appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court on 17th January 2017 charged with offences under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. The case was sent to Southwark Crown Court for trial, and a Plea and Trial Preparation Hearing is provisionally listed to be heard on 14 February 2017.
It was alleged that the individual operated as an unlicensed consumer credit lender and conducted regulated activity without authorisation by entering into and administering regulated credit agreements as a lender. This type of financial service was licensed by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) until 1 April 2014, when it became regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
This is the first time that the FCA has taken criminal action in a case related to its consumer credit powers.