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ConsumerLaw READY course for SMEs

6 months ago

Tipperary Businesses go where no Irish SME has gone before

SMEs need to do more to fully comply with EU consumer rules

Thurles, February 21st, 2018:  Eleven participants representing nine local companies attended the first ever Consumer Law Ready workshop designed by the European Union, managed in Ireland by ISME and across Europe by BEUC (the European Consumer Organisation) in a consortium with UEAPME (the Voice of SMEs in Europe) and Eurochambres (the association of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry). It is funded by the European Union with the support of the European Parliament and the European Commission.

The training workshop was facilitated by Charlie Mernagh from 2UpSkill a local training provider on 21st February in Thurles Chamber Enterprise Centre, LIT Campus and the training room was kindly provided by the board of TCEC.

“Directive 2011/83/EC on Consumer Rights came into effect on 13th June 2014. It replaced previous legislation on distance contracts but the directives on unfair contract terms (93/13/EC) and consumer goods (99/44/EC) which remain in force. Combined with this new law, this means consumer law has been harmonised across the EU and consumer rights have been extended and improved.” (source European Consumer Centre Ireland)

Key Pieces of Consumer Law

There are five key directives that traders need to be aware of and are obliged to inform their customers about, in some cases, this is getting done and that is good.

Pre-contractual information requirements

A consumer contract is any contract a trader concludes with a consumer, no matter through which channel (e.g. on the Internet, via telephone or in a shop) and irrespectively of whether it has as its object the supply of goods, services and/or digital content.

For instance, a contract concluded online with the consumer for the sale of a book.

The Consumer Rights Directive (CRD) distinguishes between "on-premises contracts" (e.g. consumer contracts concluded in a shop), "distance contracts" (e.g. consumer contracts concluded on the Internet or via telephone) and "off-premises contracts" (e.g. consumer contracts concluded at consumer's home).

Source: Page 8 Module 1 ConsumerLaw READY

Right of Withdrawal

Under the EU Directive 2011/83/EU on consumer rights (the "Consumer Rights Directive" – CRD), consumers have a right of withdrawal from consumer contracts concluded at a distance and consumer contracts concluded outside your business premises.

The right of withdrawal exists irrespective of whether the contract is for the supply of goods, provision of services or provision of digital content.

Source: Page 7 Module 2 ConsumerLaw READY

Consumer Rights and Guarantees

Concerning the sales of consumer goods, one of the most important issues is the one of guarantee, i.e. the existence of the seller’s liability for the occurrence of any defects of the goods sold. Under EU law, there is a clear distinction between the legal (or statutory) guarantee and the commercial guarantee.

You cannot present the legal guarantee as a commercial guarantee. If you want to offer a commercial guarantee yourself, it is crucial that the guarantee offers more than what is already covered by the legal guarantee.

Source: Page 9 & 11 Module 3 ConsumerLaw READY

Unfair commercial practices and unfair contract terms

Under the Directive on Unfair business-to-consumer Commercial Practices, a commercial practice is any act, omission, behaviour or representation, commercial communication (as advertising) by a trader which may affect the consumer’s economic decision to buy or not to buy a product or to use or not to use a service. The definition of a commercial practice is a very broad notion, meant to cover the widest possible number of real life situations and business behaviours that may affect consumer's choices. These rules apply to both online and offline commercial practices and to all types of goods and services. They are thus relevant for you, no matter whether you sell books in a shop or provide different types of services online.

Source: Page 8 Module 4 ConsumerLaw READY

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) & Online Dispute Resolution (ODR)

Under European law, ADR can be used for any dispute arising from a contract between a trader and consumer, whether the product was bought online or offline or whether you and your customer live in the same or in different EU countries.

The Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Platform is provided by the European Commission to help you resolve disputes with your online customers. It has been created under a piece of EU law called the Regulation on online dispute resolution of consumer disputes.

The ODR platform has been operational since February 2016 and it can be used for any contractual dispute arising from online purchases of goods or services where the trader and consumer are both based in the EU or EEA.

Source: Page 9 & 17 Module 5 ConsumerLaw READY

Prior to attending the training workshop almost all of the companies attending the one-day training workshop felt that they were compliant with the up to date consumer law directives which came into operation on 14 June 2014. By lunchtime, it became very apparent that every company represented in the room needed to update their policies and procedures in order to be fully compliant with European Consumer Law.

“Charlie Mernagh the training workshop tutor states it is evident all SMEs need to attend this workshop to ensure their policies and procedures are in line with the up to date EU Directives and key areas are addressed such as pre-contractual information requirements, rules on the consumer’s right to withdraw from distance and off-premises contracts, remedies which traders must provide, unfair commercial practices and unfair contract terms, as well as alternative dispute resolution and the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform.”

There are some basic rights that consumers have in Ireland such as a legal guarantee on new and second-hand items for example as a car or a fridge and that is a statutory right all consumers have. Most consumers have stated the that they are familiar with warranties offered by traders on goods and items but do not know about the legal guarantee set by the state and the European Union despite the law stating that you cannot exclude the application of the rules on consumer rights and guarantees.

A comment made by one of the participants attending the training workshop on 21st February last in Thurles sums it up:

“This is a frightening subject for small businesses and leads to feeling of potential exposure to challenges from the public. It is important to reinforce that providing the information to customers is important and does not expose the business to claims”

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is one of the independent statutory bodies with a dual mandate to enforce competition and consumer protection law in Ireland.

What Next

There is another training workshops organised for early April in Thurles and any business who feel they need assistance in bringing their policies and procedures in line with the up to date consumer law please do not hesitate to contact 0504 49155 and book your place on the next training workshop in your area.


Sales Planning

6 months ago

How to Write a Sales Plan

When your business is sales, many of the factors that determine success are out of your control. Whether you are trying to develop an overarching guide to your sales business strategy, or are a salesperson seeking to define your goals and tactics for meeting (and exceeding) your targets, writing a sales plan can be of great value. By briefly but thoughtfully considering your business, market, customers, competition, and plans, you can take a bit more control over your position within the unpredictable world of sales.

Writing an Individual Sales Plan

Consider what you can do to reach your sales target. Every salesperson has a sales target he or she is expected to meet. In all honesty, practically every salesperson has a sales target he or she is expected to exceed. Creating an individual sales plan helps define the strategies and tactics that will be utilized to meet and exceed the target.

Start your plan by establishing your sales target — weekly, monthly, yearly, or otherwise — and then outline several overarching strategies that you will use to achieve it.

Strategies for enhancing sales might include increasing awareness in the community, obtaining more referrals from existing customers, or adding to your number of weekly “cold calls” to potential customers.

Define your tactics for increasing sales. If the strategies you lay out are your general guidelines, then the tactics you describe are the specific ways in which you will make more sales.[14]

For instance, if one of your strategies is to increase community awareness, your tactics may include attending a set minimum of community events and volunteering at least so many times per month/quarter/year in the community.

If one of your tactics is to enhance your social media presence, you should provide specific details. For instance, how many social media posts do you intend to average per day?[15]

Determine how you will stay relevant to current customers. For many engaged in the sales business, holding onto current customers is as vital as recruiting new ones. Here again, you want to begin by laying out some key strategies that you will employ, then add some specific tactics which you will utilize.[16][17]

One strategy, for example, may be to increase your opportunities for at least monthly interaction with each of your existing clients.

If so, your tactics could include calling once per month with a relevant idea or tip, setting up an interactive newsletter, or taking a minimum number of existing clients to lunch per month.

Explain how you will “prospect” within your existing customer base. Obviously, you want to at minimum retain your existing sales with existing clients. Even better, however, is to mine this fertile ground for increased sales with existing clients and new sales to additional clients.[18][19]

Your strategies here could, in fact, be listed as “increase sales within my existing client base” and “identify new clients through my existing client base.”

Your tactics could include meeting with the key decision-maker for every account you hold, scanning client social media outlets daily for useful news, or including promotional materials with every delivery of goods or services.

Lay out your individual sales plan. Individual sales plans should be brief, and generally shorter than sales business plans. One page is a reasonable length. For clarity and convenience, straightforward subject headings and succinct, specific bulleted points are recommended.[20]

Simple and direct is key. You want something you, your boss, or anyone else who wants to look can scan quickly and understand. Think of it as something you can (and may actually want to) post on a bulletin board.

Simple and direct plans are also easier to revise as times and circumstances change. You should indeed revisit and revise your individual sales plan regularly.

Consider the following example for four possible subject headings for an individual sales plan. Each section would include three to five bulleted strategy or tactic examples:[21]

I. New Business Acquisition Strategies

II. New Business Acquisition Tactics

III. Existing Business Growth Strategies

IV. Existing Business Growth Tactics



In association with KnowledgeCity

6 months ago

Keep Learning, Keep Evolving
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