Consumer Law and the Internet: Are You Compliant?

If you have an online website selling goods or services to Australian consumers, you need to be aware of the consumer laws to ensure your website business is compliant.

The regulators are now ‘patrolling’ websites selling products and services to consumers and issuing penalties to non-compliant websites. This includes sites that copy terms and conditions and privacy policies.

The Australian Consumer Law that came into effect in January 2011 has a number of significant implications that businesses must be aware of. The Australian Consumer Law replaces the old Trade Practices Act and is in place to protect consumers, with particular focus on online e-commerce.

With the growth of online businesses, it is difficult to protect Australian consumers from both overseas and local online scams and false and misleading online advertisements. By regulating what and how local consumers are sold products and services, the legislation provides a good level of protection for those who purchase online from reputable sources.

The majority of e-commerce websites are not compliant. The sites have either no terms and conditions or have copied another website’s terms which are non-compliant or do not relate to their business. These websites are being sought out and reviewed by the Consumer Commission and being issued with penalties or being shut down until such time as they comply with proper terms and policies.

The laws are further regulating sites to protect consumers by requiring specific consumer guarantees and warranties. These guarantees and warranties must be included in the terms of purchase and must comply with a minimum standard. The consumer laws also regulate testimonials, advertising, timing for service, spare parts, refunds and other requirements for provision and sale of goods and services to your consumers. You need to be aware of these laws that restrict your commercial business policies such as stating that you do not, under any circumstances, provide refunds. This is not permitted under the law with most products and services.

Generally, you need to be aware of the new laws so that you know what your obligations are, as an e-commerce business, to your customers before you begin selling any goods or services on your website.

More importantly, businesses must ensure that they have the appropriate terms included on their websites to be compliant with the new law. This will also accurately guide your customers as to what to do if there is a problem with any products that they purchase from you and what your warranties are with respect to the goods or services you are selling.

This consumer law is being followed and is similar to requirements in other English speaking countries. Eventually government regulators around the world will follow this method of regulating both overseas and local online businesses as it is one of the only means by which they can make online business owners responsible and accountable.

The underlying message behind the significance of the new consumer law requirements and regulation is that this means that online website businesses must have good, up-to-date terms and conditions and privacy statements on their websites.

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Now Is the Time To Break Into the US Market and Sell Your Products and Services

Some have said that the Trump Administration has made the US is an unfriendly place to do business for foreign companies. The political opposition says that the threat of tariffs and trade wars causes uncertainty in global markets and is not good for the US economy. Those who call themselves ‘traditional free traders’ have sided with Trump’s political opposition, at least temporarily. Personally, I see just the opposite.

First, I see more foreign money coming into the US market to seize the opportunities of low corporate tax rates, and as a way to avoid potential tariffs. Further, I see temporary tariffs as a shot over the bow that the US will not be played with unbalanced trade agreements or lack of fair trade agreements. These temporary trade tariffs will bring billions into the US government’s coffers while trade negotiations happen, and our foreign counterparts will rush back to the table to renegotiate with more favorable terms. No international company wants to skip the US Market, it’s too big, and there is far too much money here.

Why Should Companies Move Operations to the US and Establish Themselves Here?

The United States of America is the largest consumer market on the planet. In 2016 and then again in 2017 the US consumer market alone was nearly 13 Trillion Dollars, and that doesn’t account for another Trillion or two in unreported sales – cash transactions in the underground economy, which includes everything from a kid’s lemon aid stand or house maid to a handyman remodeling a kitchen. And, realize at 13-15 Trillion, this is only the “consumer economy” and has nothing to do with what businesses spend or the US government spends annually.

The Federal Government, not including state governments or local governments, has a budget of $4 Trillion. State Governments total an estimated $2 Trillion and all the local governments combined also near $2 Trillion. The total government spending for fiscal year 2018 is estimated to be around $7.5 Trillion. Guess how much US businesses spent in 2017? It’s so huge no one can figure it out, it’s so mind-boggling that it makes the rest of the world’s economies look like child’s play. Did you know that 2018 business spending is already on course for a 7% increase, even with a so-called trade war scare?

The United States is not only the largest consumer economy by far, but it is the largest for government and business spending as well, and second place isn’t even close. If you are not in the US Market selling your goods and services you are missing out. Are you ready to go for it? If so, there are plenty of US based international business consultants here who are ready and willing to help get you set up. Here are some of the things you’ll need to enter the greatest market in human history;

Business Plan
Marketing Plan
Set Up Books – Accounting
Business Name Registration
Business License Acquisition
Business/Commercial Insurance
Website with email addresses
Tax Strategy and Tax Planning
Set Up Books – Bookkeeping/Accounting
Business Location and Rental/Lease Negotiation
Business Corporation Formation
Setting Up Bank Accounts (Business Checking)
Start-up Business Coaching
Start-up Marketing Consulting
If you own a business that sells internationally, you’ll now need a US base of operations, and you’d be wise, very wise to do it sooner than later to take advantage of this booming economy.

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