Often ‘dubious’ companies targeting timeshare owners are presented under a simple trade name, a website with a phone number and a virtual address.
It is obvious that what behind this lack of transparency there is an obvious objective.
We would like to point out the ‘minimum’ information that a company has to provide to its potential clients.
Whether a business is trading online or not, it is almost certainly affected by the E-Commerce Regulations which came into force in the UK in 2002. They cover more than just e-commerce.
The Regulations, properly called the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002, implement the EU’s Electronic Commerce Directive 2000into UK law. The Directive was introduced to clarify and harmonise the rules of online business throughout Europe with the aim of boosting consumer confidence. The Directive was passed in June 2000.
Service providers, whether involved in e-commerce or not, should provide the following minimum information, which must be easily, directly and permanently accessible:
- the name of the service provider must be given somewhere easily accessible on the site. This might differ from the trading name and any such difference should be explained – e.g. “XYZ.com is the trading name of XYZ Enterprises Limited”;
- the geographic address of the service provider must be given;
- the details of the service provider including his or her email address, so long as it allows rapid contact and direct and effective communication. A ‘contact us’ form without also providing an email address in not sufficient;
- details of a register, including any registration number, should be provided;
- if the business is a member of a trade or similar register available to the public, confirmation of that. For example, if a company, the company’s registration number should be given;
- the particulars of the relevant supervisory authority if the services are subject to an authorisation scheme;
- details of any professional body or similar institution with which the service provider is registered, his or her professional title and the Member State where that title has been granted besides reference to the applicable professional rules where the service provider exercises a regulated profession;
- a VAT number, if a business has one should be stated – even if the website is not being used for e-commerce transactions; and
- prices on the website must be clear and unambiguous and, in particular, state whether prices are inclusive of tax and delivery costs.
Finally, do not forget the overlapping information requirements of other laws:
- The Distance Selling Regulations contain various information requirements for businesses that sell to consumers over the web. For details of these requirements, see our guide, The UK’s Distance Selling Regulations.
- If the service provider is a company, the Companies Act 2006 requires that the place of registration should be stated (e.g. “XYZ Enterprises Limited is a company registered in England and Wales with company number 1234567”).
Then, beware of a company that cold calls you and does not meet with these requirements.
Customer Care – Mindtimeshare