New December Regulation Surprise for Small Businesses

The new Provision of Services Regulations will involve a main requirement of making all necessary information available to the business’s customers and clients, including name and address of business and contact details for resolving urgent issues.  They also require details of prices, general terms and conditions and any after-sales guarantee that the business provides to be made available.

The regulations also introduce procedures for dealing with complaints which are designed to ensure adequate contact details to enable customers to contact the business with a complaint or comment about the service in a way that is much quicker.   A business must deal with the complaint by responding as quickly as possible, and find a satisfactory solution to the best of its ability.

The regulations prohibit a business from discriminating on grounds of nationality or residence, which means that the quality or price of service should not be affected by where a client lives unless there are ‘objective criteria’ for doing so that justify the difference – for example extra costs because of the distance the service provider has to travel to see the client.

The regulations will not apply to the sale of goods, but they would if there are services as well as goods being supplied. Moreover the regulations were brought in to apply to all B2B and B2C activities.  A few service providers are excluded from the regulations including those involved in electronic communications, financial services, transport and healthcare.

The required information should be available online, in print communications, or at the location where the business is provided. Therefore businesses should ensure that their websites are updated accordingly.  The regulations come from an EU Directive and will apply throughout Europe.

For most business the important provisions concern information that they must give to their clients and customers.  Much of this information is already provided by most firms but the requirements are now more extensive.  The Office of Fair Trading and various other consumer bodies will be able to take action against business in breach of the Regulations where the breach harms the collective interests of consumers, which is why it is so important that businesses ensure they are compliant.

ContractStore has devised a checklist of areas that are affected by the new regulations to ensure businesses meet the requirements.

For more information visit the ContractStore blog