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Double Sided Tape (Ramsdens Solicitors LLP at the Target 2016 Open Day)

Posted On - 26/08/2016 07:49:21

Consumer law, by protecting customers, protects youMaking money in the IT Trade; making a turn on selling everything from inks to laptops, from screen replacements to maintenance contracts to custom builds, from tuning up performance, recovering data to rooting out malware.

Whatever you do, you're doing it to make a difference. Or more accurately, make a margin. What could possibly be the problem with that?

The chase

Drucker may have said "the purpose of business is to create and keep customers" but we're all doing it to make money. You'll only survive if you make enough profit to cover costs. And if that's all you want - ‘breaking even' or making a ‘few quid' - that's fine.

It's also fine if you want more – a business that makes enough to fuel growth. So hiring one or two staff or even having a division in every town. Any of these is fine – it's your ambition. The question is what price are you prepared to pay to get it?

Bad sectors

We're not talking about problems with a drive here. This is about shady business practices. It makes perfect business sense to keep margins wide. That means selling at fair - not low - prices and buying shrewd, not cheapest.

But as simple as this advice is there are temptations. Whether it's anxieties over making ends meet, bare-faced greed or pure contempt some bend the rules, cut corners and dupe their customers. Cheap goods end up over-priced, dangerous ones sold as safe, counterfeit sold as branded, and services not delivered to spec. Customers get taken for a ride while rogue traders profiteer.

Hallmark

Dishonest business practices aren't new. In 50 B.C. the Romans implemented a law criminalising the destruction of cargo vessels by competing traders. Enforcement over weights and measures legislation goes back to before the Norman Conquest. In 1352 and 1360 Acts banned the use of inaccurate scales. In 1773 the Sheffield Assay Office introduced hallmarking of precious metals. The Merchandise Marks Act of 1887 addressed the accuracy of written statements describing goods.

The list goes on and on and... Because the temptation for some to, shall we say, "cheat" is too much.

Enough of the history lesson!

Yeah, we aren't experts. So let's call time by just saying the "Sale of Goods Act", the "Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations" and the "Supply of Goods and Services Act". Why? Because bad service and shoddy goods are such huge issues legislation has ‘bred' in its wake. And you need to get your head around it. Because, despite how you may feel, all this this legal stuff's there to protect.

Consumer legislation protects the public against fraud. Screwing over consumers is dishonest. And letting businesses off the hook condones it. Failing to deal with it damages consumer confidence and trade suffers. But not only that, turning a blind-eye to these practices encourages unfair competition. So you end up doing business in depressed markets with devious competitors.

Consumer protection turns all this on its head. It corners the rogues and calls them to account. Not only that, by protecting consumers the law protects you. It restores confidence, improves trade and makes competition fairer. Perhaps the red tape isn't so bad?

Latest show in town

The 2015 Consumer Rights Act came into force October 1st 2015. Not more law! Well yes and no. Yes, it's a new name. But no in that it's simplified (replaced), strengthened and modernised existing law. Why? Because there was too much of it and it was increasingly out of date. Some reform was needed. So most of those Acts we mentioned before? Now gone!

Things change. Think "internet" and how much stuff now gets bought online. Plus remember some traders just can't stop themselves bending the rules? They can't resist interpreting things in ways that suit them? So as well as consolidating existing rules others have been made crystal clear. Now there's no doubt about what they mean. Make no mistake, profiteering is like an addiction. And putting junkies through rehab is tough.

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