This Scorecard is due to be updated in 2018
In a competitive market, businesses often have opportunity to engage in unfair or deceptive practices or actions that could disadvantage other business and/or customers. Though the precise definition of ‘unfair’ or ‘deceptive’ is impossible because each case must be judged on its own facts, there are certain categories of behaviour that can be recognised to be harmful, if not illegal, and detrimental to people, the planet and other businesses. These may include:
● Misrepresentation in a commercial setting, such as ‘mis-selling’ an insurance policy
deliberately making contractual terms obscure and overly complex;
● Changing terms once a contract has been signed, particularly if one party has more power/money/clout than the other
● Ignoring or disregarding hazards, dangers and inconveniences, such as poorly made products that purport to be higher quality than they are
● Deceiving creditors and suppliers, in regards to an organisation’s financial health
● Extending credit to an individual who is not creditworthy
● Libeling or slandering another organisation's product or business activities, either overtly in advertising or covertly e.g. fake negative reviews/cyber trolling in discussion forums etc
● Making a false representation to make a person believe that the goods or services offered are those of another, such as a competitor (‘passing off’)
● Falsely implying that a network/endorsement exists
● Charging for a service that can be accessed/undertaken freely elsewhere
● Limiting production and supply, controlling access to technical developments or markets, such as through contractual conditions
● Interfering with another company’s contracts, directly or indirectly
● Systematic overcharging of customers, e.g. consistently overcharging on wines so that significant ‘discounts’ can be made without affecting profits
● Misleading customers with hidden costs e.g. charging cancellation fees out of proportion to initial membership fees
● Discriminatory pricing, such as variable tariffs according to method of payment, e.g. charging to use debit cards, or time of joining, when new customers get a better deal not offered to old customers
● Exclusivity or other unfair trading conditions, e.g. limiting payment options to one provider such as Visa at the London 2012 Games.
Many of these behaviours are very subtle or even unconsciously taken by those who have not questioned the norms of current business practice. They are often hard to identify and rectify, so may persist for a long time and be inherent in a business’ working culture and processes. Often, they are a question of degree and context rather than a clear infringement of black and white, right or wrong. Often, when challenged at law, the result is the award of both compensatory and punitive damages.
This question is focused on the more intangible shading of values and principles before the activity becomes outright illegal.