Skip to main content

Businesses Need Free Fast Advice

I have just come off the phone with a very helpful lady at the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB - staffed by volunteers - bless 'em all). As a business mentor I needed a quick piece of advice from Trading Standards (the government department responsible for making sure businesses in the UK trade within the law). The only phone number you can find on the web for advice is a call centre designed exclusively for consumers. The first two options on their IVR greeting is for utility supplies, the third and final option is 'anything else'. Naturally I got "All our operators are busy, but leave your name and number and we'll call you back...".

So when she called me the next morning I briefly explained the issue my client is experiencing. She stopped me and said the CAB are only able to offer advice to consumers, not businesses. She then gave me a number for Surrey Trading Standards who apparently will give me an hours free consultation and then charge me £67 for subsequent time. Fair enough. Apparently the deal depends on which part of the country you're in. Why not one charging  policy for all you might think?

I've not yet called them yet. But that's not the point of this gromble. I wanted advice about whether a trading practice was legal or not. Nothing more. Had my query led to a request for action from an official, that's another matter. But the fact that there's no national helpline for business advice about Trading Standards is a nonsense. My (trying to be) helpful CAB lady told me the advice they provide to the odd business caller is 'speak to a solicitor'. But all I wanted was advice on helping my client to ensure he was trading within the law. Lawyers I am sure would love to make money out this, but my client is a tiny start-up business who shouldn't have to pay for quick and simple advice to help him start trading. Anything more complicated and he either pays his local Trading Standards chaps, or indeed a solicitor. But surely not for the answer to a quick 'can I, or can't I...?' question.

So my point is, Mr Cable, instead of making it hard (depending on where you live) for businesses to obtain free, consistent advice about the legalities of trading in the UK, why not aggregate all the regional helplines under a central number (using sensible telecoms, you don't need to congregate the people). If you need some financial support for it, perhaps an 0870 or even higher rate number would be acceptable (the call revenue might cover a proportion of the costs). And publish that number for business advice on your Trading Standards website instead of restricting it to consumer information.

Make doing business easy! Perhaps then you'll reach that holy grail of growth we all sorely need.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Phillips screws - yes I'm angry about them too

Don't get me wrong. They're a brilliant invention to assist automation and prevent screwdrivers from slipping off screw heads - damaging furniture, paintwork and fingers in the process. Interestingly they weren't invented by Mr Phillips at all, but by a John P Thompson who sold Mr P the idea after failing to commercialise it. Mr P, on the otherhand, quickly succeeded where Mr T had failed. Incredible isn't it. You don't just need a good idea, you need a great salesman and, more importantly, perfect timing to make a success out of something new. Actually, it would seem, he did two clever things (apart from buying the rights). He gave the invention to GM to trial. No-brainer #1. After it was adopted by the great GM, instead of trying to become their sole supplier of Phillips screws, he sold licenses to every other screw manufacturer in the world. A little of a lot is worth a great deal more than a lot of a little + vulnerability (watch out Apple!). My gromble is abo

Norman's Autobiography

The following is an unfinished autobiography written by my father who passed away earlier this week at the age of 93. Cheerbye Dad (you were the only person I knew to use this expression). You were a huge influence on my life. Thanks for taking the time to record so much that I never knew about your own life and those of our immigrant ancestors. Dad's the one in the middle ;-) The HorBraJacSac Saga by Norman Horwood  9th June 1926 (or possibly earlier!) - 27th June 2019 The Families' Backgrounds. We have four families; Abrahams/Horowitz/Horwood; Bralofsky/Braley; Jacobs and Tchaikofsky/Sacof. Taking my pair, the (Abrahams) Horowitzs/Horwood and the (Bralofskys) Braleys. They escaped from different parts of "Mittel Europe" at different times. Abraham and Rachel Abrahams, nee Gess, (Horowitz), had been in England longer than the Bralofskys, having come here from Lithuania in about 1897 as a married couple without children. It is certain that Abraham

Prepare for Alien Contact

I've not gone barking mad or joined some weird religious cult (aren't they all?). But I do predict that we will make contact with intelligences from other planets soon. Here's my reasoning: There are approximately 100,000,000,000 stars in our galaxy (easy way to remember this order of magnitude is it's one hundred, thousand, million). Usefully there are also approximately the same number of galaxies in the universe. And assuming every star has about the same number of planets orbiting it as our Sun, and that the Milky Way is an average size of galaxy, that means there are around 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets in the universe. A lot. Scientists have long debated the probability of life, as we would recognise it - reproducing, eating, etc - existing outside Earth. Most agree mathematically that it's a certainty. What they did was take all the components they believed were required for life to have evolved on Earth and then extrapolate what they know about