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.

Are my terms and conditions suitable?

There are two main issues here:

  1. using terms and conditions that are not bespoke to your business; and
  2. using terms and conditions that are out of date.

Your business’ terms and conditions should:

  • underpin the provision of good, consistent customer service;
  • give clarity of expectations & payment terms;
  • provide protection for all the parties involved;
  • ensure you meet all the legal requirements for your particular business; and
  • minimise legal disputes

If the worst comes to the worst and you end up in dispute with a client or customer, if they are in writing, they provide great evidence of what was agreed in the first place.

How can Crimson Crab help?

We can provide a free no obligation quote for a bespoke set of terms and conditions. Request a quote.

For a small fee we can review your current terms and conditions and give you a no obligation quote if they need amending. Order a review.

If you operate a consultancy we can supply a standard form agreement suitable for your business read more…

 

 

As a retailer do I have to charge the price advertised on goods?

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 offers an amount of money which may be accepted by 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.

What are the potential consequences of unlicensed credit trading?

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Southern Entrepreneuers – PORTSMOUTH FREE EVENT

Regulation for Small Business

06 Dec 2016 10:00 – 13:00

Enterprise Centre – PORTSMOUTH

This workshop will give an awareness of the areas of regulation that may apply to a business and how to go about developing compliance controls as a response to the ever increasing number of regulations and need for operational transparency.

Find out more and book your place…