Fair commercial practices are essential when contracting with consumers. These would typically include giving accurate and complete information about your products or service. The key point is that it might be unfair if the consumer is not able to make an informed decision. Clearly, practices which involve harassing or coercing a consumer to commit to a purchase would be unfair; practices which could be deemed to be aggressive can be criminal offences.
The list of practices which are regarded as unfair in all circumstances is extensive. They do not relate only to specific dealings that you have with a particular consumer, but extend to the claims you make in your advertising, general statements about price or endorsements, giving misleading impressions as to the obligations that a consumer may be under, visits to people’s homes, advertising targeted at children, and plenty more.
You should have systems in place to reduce the likelihood of falling foul of these provisions. For example:
- policy manuals
- training records and materials
- an audit trail
The existence of these may give you some protection if you are accused of an offence. But the safest course is to consider whether a third party would regard a practice as fair to the consumer or consumers generally, and to make sure you and your staff act accordingly.