How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Ben Jones Your Own Question
Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50198
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
Type Your Law Question Here...
Ben Jones is online now

There,This is a question relating to UK law.I have

This answer was rated:

Hi there,This is a question relating to UK law.I have created a independent website where I plan to 'mystery shop' in a sense local businesses and then highlight those businesses who have performed well on my website, as my personal recommendations for each sector.My questions is, am I allowed to contact businesses with no intention of purchasing or using their services, send them emails from a prospective customer to see if they respond etc, or can they have a case for suing me for wasting there time in effect? Also can they sue me for not asking their permission to judge their business, although I won't be saying 'Mr J's Plumbing' is terrible as they never answer the phone or come back to you, I may be saying we recommend 'Mr R's Plumbing' if they performed well so by inference instead.If the answer to either of these is negative, so I could be potentially sued successfully, then would an opt out email suffice, i.e. emailing all saying I'm going to mystery shop, please email back to opt out ?
Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. So to clarify you will be rating them on their responses, rather than the goods/services they supply?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Ben,Thank you for your response.No it will be in service sectors so recruitement to start with, I haven't completely thought it through but wanted to check the legal side first. So I in effect will be reviewing their customer service levels, which will involve some email tests which I will send as prospective clients. I don't want to waste peoples time, I just want to highlight companies who are actively excelling with their customer service as I find this is an important aspect and often you don't get a response.
Well there is no such thing as wasting time in civil law – there is such a thing in criminal law, for example if you were wasting police time, but not in civil law. So in reality you could do as you have proposed because you would not be committing any offence, be it civil or criminal. The companies advertise their services and anyone is free to contact them and enquire about them or be a potential client. Whether that is true or not does not really matter – no one can question your motives as you have no obligation to engage their services – until you have actually entered into a contract with them, you are not bound to anything. Also you do not need their permission to judge their services you are not expected to obtain their consent. You just have to ensure that any comments you make on them are truthful and represent facts and that you are also able to back them up in the event they are challenged. So keep copies of any correspondence you have. I hope this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (3, 4 or 5 stars) as that is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Ben,Very impressed with your answer, I hope you don't mind me clarifying just before rating you 5 stars, as you have been great.My main concern surrounded someone suing a PPI company as they had stated that if the company kept ringing they would charge them £10 per minute and this was upheld. also thought if we took it to the extreme and I sent 1000 emails to a business, they could arguably say that I am sabotaging by costing them money and affecting their business, so in taking resourcing away from real clients. So I thought if that makes sense that they might have a case, maybe on a smaller level they could argue the same points. As I am contacting them incognito from a review site, there is no intention from the start to use their services, so thus I am knowingly taking resources that in effect cost them money in wages, away from potential paying customers, so I thought this is where they may try and sue? Also they can't object as they don't know that I am not a real customer? Can you just clarify that in your opinion on this and then I'm happy.I am not going to mention any of the negatives of any business, just mention the ones who performed well.
Yes well that is linked to harassment laws where the person had asked to be left alone and the companies continued to hound him with calls. So in your case, you calling them a couple of times and them making no objections to that would not qualify. However, if they got wind of what you were up to and asked you to stop contacting them, yet you continued to do so and then started wasting their time even though they had specifically asked you not to be in touch, then that is when you could be in trouble. So the easiest thing to do is to immediately stop contact with a company if they have requested you do not contact them any longer. So you have to keep things to a reasonable level – make it appear like a genuine query and keep your level of communication to a reasonable level. If you were to send multiple requests, disguised as different potential customers then that could be an issue but if they were kept to a few occurrences with each company then it should not be an issue. Hope this clarifies?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you Ben, that is where my concern lay, I was planning on sending 15 emails over the course of a month, 5 from different prospective companies looking to enlist their services, 5 from job applicants and 5 with questions about the company. I can of course reduce this to 3 in each category, I just wanted to give them a fair crack of the whip as 1 email in each category wouldn't be a fair representation. So in your opinion would 15 emails over the course of a month be an issue? If so would this be eliminated by emailing them informing me of my intentions and offering an opt out should they wish. I would rather not do this, so if you think 15 would be fine. It would be a one off test but may be repeated in 12 months time.
No one can really say how many email precisely is too much and how much is reasonable. There is no figure you can refer to and to be honest if this was to end up in court each judge may have a different interpretation so it can vary. I would not say that 15 emails on the whole is too much but obviously it would depend on how much detail there will be in each and how much time it will take up. Also remember that you will not really get into trouble unless you continued wasting their time once they had asked you not to If your original question has been answered I would be grateful if you could please quickly rate my answer by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page - it only takes a second to do and is an important part of our process. I can still answer follow up questions afterwards if needed. Thank you
Ben Jones and 3 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you Ben, much appreciated, if you could give me one last piece of advice it would be much appreciated. If someone did sue me over all this, what would you guesstimate that they would be suing me for, would it just be the time spent responding to my emails that would be considered proportionate ? Kind regards Rob
They can only sue you for losses incurred as a result of your actions so yes it would be time spent dealing with you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you Ben, I have really appreciated your help. Happy new year.
You are most welcome, all the best