The safety and well-being of customers and other persons is of paramount importance.
It is your responsibility to ensure that when working in your customer’s home, garden or other place or premises you follow appropriate safe working practices to avoid placing yourself, your customer or other persons at risk of injury.
In particular any power tools, cables, ladders, scaffolding, chemicals, paints and other hazardous materials must be used and stored in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions. You should also follow any relevant safe working procedures published by manufacturers of equipment, the Health and Safety Executive or as part of industry standard guidelines.
You should ensure that you leave your customer’s home secure and that any equipment or materials stored on site are in a safe and secure condition.
In 2020 the global Covid-19 pandemic significantly changed the way businesses in the UK operate. Throughout the course of the various national lockdowns several new pieces of legislation were quickly adopted to try and contain the spread of Covid-19.
We ask that all our members remain familiar with the current guidance and legislation applicable to their business and follow the best practice advice issued by Public Health to help minimise the risk of Covid-19 to others. The Gov.uk website contains up to date information about any restrictions in place as well as other preventative measures.
We promote the Buy With Confidence Scheme as ‘Trading Standards Approved’ and consumers use the scheme because they want the confidence that this delivers.
You should therefore recognise that some customers will be vulnerable due to their age, mental and/or physical condition or will need your expertise to determine what goods or services are suitable for their needs. Such customers may take longer to reach appropriate decisions, require more information and guidance and you should ensure that they are given sufficient time for this.
You must not treat customers in a discriminatory way. Customers must be treated equally and in a polite and courteous manner, regardless of age, disability, HIV status, marital status, race, religion/belief, gender/sex, sexuality, sexual orientation, national origin or ethnicity.
We also regard ‘pressure selling’, as having an adverse effect on well-being; this will include undue emphasis of the benefits of warranties, insurances and ancillary products.
You should ensure that the benefits of any warranty, insurance or ancillary product are available to the customer and applicable to the way in which the customer might reasonably use the product.
You should not undertake excessively long sales pitches, offer falsely described discounts or other benefits for immediate sales, or adopt any similar practice with the aim of applying undue pressure on the consumer to reach a decision to purchase.
Selling in the consumers home
Buy With Confidence members are not permitted to cold call at a consumer’s home (including by telephone) but are permitted to advertise using leaflets, mail shots etc.
If you make contracts to supply goods or provide services while you are at the customer’s home there are specific additional requirements you must abide by. These apply whether you are invited to the home or not.
The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013
If you sign contracts in a consumer’s home or sell goods or services ‘at a distance’ e.g. on the internet, you are likely to need to give consumers certain pre-contractual information about the goods or services they wish to receive. These are stipulated in the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.
In some circumstances it can be difficult to decide whether your business needs to comply with these requirements however, if you fail to issue the correct information when the law requires you to, it may prevent you from pursuing payment and you could be committing a criminal offence. We will provide you with advice, please make sure that you explain exactly how your business makes this type of contract.
You must ensure that customers have been provided with a full, complete and clear indication of the price, or how the price will be calculated, before they agree to purchase goods and services.
When dealing with consumers (rather than businesses), you should also ensure that all prices are quoted inclusive of applicable taxes (such as VAT).
The price of goods and services is a matter for negotiation between the business and consumer and we do not require that businesses offer the lowest or best value prices for the goods and services provided. We would regard persistent high pricing, or an individual incident of excessive/extortionate pricing, particularly where there is an element of exploitation, as detrimental to the well-being of customers.
Deposits and advance payments
We recognise that for many businesses a deposit is essential to ensure that customers are committed to purchase the relevant goods and services. The amount of a deposit should not be excessive and should reflect the potential loss to the business should the customer cancel before work begins. Excessive deposits can be unfair and may be regarded as a breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015. We will be happy to give businesses advice on their standard terms and conditions.
Advance payments may be for the purpose of purchasing materials, hiring equipment etc, to commence work. Where part-payment is required in advance of work being completed, perhaps to fund the purchase of expensive materials or equipment, this should be clearly identified as such in the contract.
It is a requirement that all BWC members maintain appropriate insurance to cover the activities undertaken including public liability insurance in respect of customers and others entering your business premises and employers liability where you employ staff. Depending on the nature of the service you provide specialist requirements may be imposed, for example professional indemnity insurance or higher liability limits if the element of work is high risk e.g. tree surgery.
You should note that insured amounts do not represent a limit of your liability to customers or others but merely the maximum amount that the insurance company will pay in the event of a claim. You must not limit your liability to the amount covered by your insurance policies.
NOTE: Whilst we require adequate and appropriate insurance to be in place we are unable to advise you on the specific policies, contents, amounts insured or related matters.
Identity theft is a very real problem, particularly in the digital era, so we ask that all our Buy With Confidence members treat their customer’s personal information as carefully as they would their own, storing and destroying it securely.
Occasionally we are informed of attempts to scam BWC members, for example hacking into email systems or targeting them with fraudulent invoice scams. Please make sure you keep your passwords and systems secure and take prompt action to safeguard your data and your finances if you become aware of being the victim of a scam. Guidance on how to avoid becoming a victim of a scam can be found here The Little Book of Big Scams – Business Edition (met.police.uk)
We expect all of our members to ensure that any employees are treated fairly and in compliance with any applicable employment law. Any suspected or proven breach in this respect would be treated as a safeguarding concern and be handled accordingly as a breach of membership terms and conditions.
We also recognise that our members may be well placed to identify suspected incidences where other individuals may be the victim of exploitation or modern slavery. We encourage our members to report any suspicious activity to the police. To educate yourself more about modern slavery, please visit the Unseen website.
Certain commercial organisations must publish an annual statement setting out the steps they take to prevent modern slavery in their business and their supply chains.
A commercial organisation is required to publish an annual statement if all the criteria below apply:
- it is a ‘body corporate’ or a partnership, wherever incorporated or formed
- it carries on a business, or part of a business, in the UK
- it supplies goods or services
- it has an annual turnover of £36 million or more
Organisations are responsible for determining whether the legislation applies to them. You may wish to seek legal advice to decide if your organisation needs to produce an annual statement.
More information, resources and training can be found on the gov.uk website.