Buyer Beware –Personal Responsibility as a Business Owner and Consumer

Buyer Beware –Personal Responsibility as a Business Owner and Consumer

“There oughta be a law!” How many times have you heard people say that? And how often have you thought or said the same?

It’s a natural reaction when you live in a mixed economy where government is involved in the minutest details of our lives in an implied attempt at achieving the impossible – zero risk for all of us. The results of this approach are a growing trend toward rewarding those who are least responsible in society at the expenses of those who are most responsible.

So, what’s the solution?


Don’t expect the government to legislate truth in advertising and somehow have it work to protect you. Just look at the campaign promises of politicians to see how ineffectual this would be. Even if you felt you were duped through overstated promises, you would still have to find the time and resources to sue and the lawyers that would fight successfully on your behalf based on your perception of what was said and what was delivered. On the other hand, contract law and written guarantees are more easily challenged in court. Better yet, take greater care before buying to protect yourself against unscrupulous business practices.

Be willing to do whatever research is necessary, including trial and error and sharing what you learn when others ask your opinion. Accept responsibility for your own decisions about who to deal with and on what terms, however good or bad the result may be in individual instances. That’s called “learning from your experience.”

There is a difference between unethical and illegal business practices. Being dishonest or exaggerating is not a crime, nor should it be in and of itself. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Resist the temptation to “make it big” with one decision, or to solve all your problems with just one purchase. Check it out. Weigh the risks. Decide wisely.


  • Most professional associations have a code of conduct that members must abide by in order to claim the endorsement that their membership implies.
  • Private testing agencies publish reports on the safety and value of products according to their test results.
  • Private organizations like the Better Business Bureau register claims of unethical business practices and allow access to that information for consumers to use in making their decisions.
  • Many publications, both free or by subscription, rate products and services for consumers and businesses alike.
  • And of course there’s the Internet, which itself requires caution as an information source. Anyone can publish anything they want on the Internet so networking with people you know and trust on line can be a great source of referrals, testimonials, and warnings about the companies they are familiar with.


Your reputation is everything. And a bad one can spread like wildfire.

Make sure your branding reflects your true values and how you act in business. Measure your business activities not only in terms of sales, expenses, or business awards. Be proud to be known as a company to be trusted to follow through on your promises. Build that culture throughout your organization and protect it through sound hiring, training and communications.

Offer a guarantee of quality and be willing to back it up with your performance and your willingness to make right for the client should there be a slip up at any time.

Put insurance in place for the higher risk aspects of your business. Accidents can happen and proper insurance helps you sleep at night. In fact, many insurance companies offer reduced rates for companies with equipment and policies in place that are in themselves reducing the risk of a claim.

Bottom line: Run the kind of company that you would like to deal with, and your clients will show their respect by paying your invoices.


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