New guide to help businesses understand their obligations

Small businesses have a responsibility to look after client data and must understand their obligations to customers, a new guide advises.

Businesses that sell goods and services online and in people’s homes are being reminded that they can have more responsibilities and obligations than those who sell over the counter and on the high street.

The warning is in a new guide, published by trading standards experts, and comes after news that a third of businesses report that asking for cancellation fees had led to disputes with customers.

Published on the government-backed website, the guide seeks to answer the top five issues faced by businesses that sell goods or services online, by phone or by mail order.

It also looks at businesses that sell in people’s homes such as tradesmen and those who work in sales.

Adrian Simpson, CTSI’s business education and consumer advice expert, says, ‘Customers often cancel services or return goods and we understand that can be difficult for businesses. That’s why it’s important everybody is clear on the law and your customers’ cancellation rights are clear from the start.

‘For some newer and possibly even smaller businesses that might feel counterintuitive, like you are inviting customers to return goods, but businesses that fully understand their obligations save time and money, and drive up customer satisfaction.’

Simpson thinks that when you get trading standards law wrong, it’s bad for business. It often leads to complaints and reputation damage and if trading standards get involved you could end up being prosecuted and fined. We don’t want that.

He adds, ‘The new guide and the wider information on the Business Companion website allows businesses to access technical and legal expertise for free, so they can make sure they are clear on the legislation that affects them.’

Some of the issues covered in the new guide include: what information businesses should give to a customer when a contract is made; cancellation rights for various products and services including digital content; and the circumstances that apply when issuing a refund.

Further reading on data obligations

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Freddie Halvorson

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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