Tag: Business Attorney in Newton

June 9, 2014   Posted by: Margarita Smirnova

BUSINESSES DEALING WITH ON LINE DEAL SITES!

At one point, sooner or later, you, as a business owner or business principal will consider offering your services on a Groupon like or an on line deal sites to promote your business and show potential customers your service.   Forbes’ article Are Daily Deal Sites Like Groupon Still Worth It? points out the wariness of the consumer.  In the article, a writer didn’t use her coupon.  She stated that customers became disillusioned by the deals and burnt from experiences.  She ended her article with a list of great advice for the buyers.  The list is great to connect with customers and figure how to make your business last.  The list below will take it a little further and list issues that businesses may deal with when working with companies that providing on line deals.  Keep in mind that the list is not exhaustive and not all companies are the same.

1.     Deals are contractual agreements.  When dealing with a corporation that offers an on line deal you will be provided with an already prepared contractual agreement that contains multiple clauses.  One of the most commonly used clauses is expiration date.  Each contract varies.  In 2012, Groupon, Inc. paid $ 8.5 million and settled a class-action lawsuit, which alleged illegal expiration dates when customers didn’t use their vouchers.  See, In re Groupon Inc. Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation, 11-MD-2238, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California. The result affected businesses that now must accept monies customers paid even after the deal, sans the discount.

When facing with on line deal like contract, this is the time to review every clause very carefully.  It is important to understand the company’s motive, which is to sell.  This means what is said is not always what is in writing.  One Boston magazine offered an on line deal to a business where the salesperson verbally offered a deal-type scenario that consisted the company would provide the deal on their website and keep 100% of proceeds from the deal while the business would provide a service to the customers who would buy the deal in exchange for the publication.  When they sent the contract to the business, it was shocking to see that no deal-type scenario was included anywhere in the contract.  In fact, the business would be solely responsible for the publication.

2.     Cancel the contract clause.  Deal-type companies retain the right to cancel the contract with the business at any time without warning or explanation.  That means whatever efforts you made to prepare your business to deal will go to waste.  They also can change a day and a time of the without being liable to you.  The contract can limit the business’s right to cancel which renders the clause illegal when one sided.

3.     Another big one is condition of approval clause.  If the business isn’t careful and signs this clause, the company can get the right to strip you of your right to condition for approval, which I think, is atrocious.  You want to see your final version of advertisement before it goes out in print or on line.

4.     Watch out for your own property rights.  One company wanted to retain rights to own and sell to third parties of businesses’ pictures or images and trademark perpetually.  This means that not only they can use your images that you’ve spent time, money and energy to obtain and belong to you, but also to sell them to whoever they please forever.

5.     Customer dissatisfaction.  All on line deal like companies contain limitation clauses in their contracts.   They also will make sure to be indemnified from further liability and the responsibility will fall almost entirely on the business.  It is important to be aware what type of liability the business will absorb.

Groupon like companies retained attorneys to draft contracts for them.  There is nothing wrong if you get help from one.

Written by Margarita Smirnova, Esq.

If you have a specific question relating to your business or any other legal questions, please contact Margarita

Call: (617)398-7482
E-mail: margarita.smirnova@gmail.com
This post is for informational and educational use only and does not create attorney-client relationship.
no comments posted in: Business Law   |   Commercial Law   |   Litigation
November 8, 2013   Posted by: Margarita Smirnova

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN BUSINESSES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

On November 22, 2011, Massachusetts allowed casinos through the Expanded Gaming Act.  This month is a 2 year anniversary since the casino business became legal in this state.  So, what happened since Governor Deval Patrick signed the law.

205 CMR regulates gaming through Massachusetts Gaming Commission.  Under the 194 §1(7), Massachusetts Gaming Commission was established that consists of chair and four commissioners and it is tasked to overview fair and transparent gaming experience.  Chapter 194 §1(13) requires businesses to “have received a certified and binding vote on a ballot question at an election in the host community in favor of such license; provided, however that a request for an election shall take place after the signing of an agreement between the host community and the applicant; provided further, that upon receipt of a request for an election, the governing body of the municipality shall call for the election to be held not less than 60 days but not more than 90 days from the date that the request was received; provided further, that the signed agreement between the host community and the applicant shall be made public with a concise summary, approved by the city solicitor or town counsel…”

This means that Massachusetts requires local voters to agree before casino applicants can even obtain a state license to conduct any type of gaming activities.  While Boston residents voted against casinos entering their city, Revere residents voted for the casinos and dog racing trucks to enter their city.  Leominster residents were a bit more conservative and allowed only slot machines.   With casinos entering the area, the employment and financial improvement will affect the economic growth of the city.  At the same time, the local government will have to raise security to balance out the influx of the visiting people and to protect from potential criminal activity.  Similarly, Jamaica Plain is legendary opposed to work with chain companies.  For example franchises such as Arthur Murray, Fred Astair, and Apple store will have a tough time opening their doors in Jamaica Plain.  At the same time, a small independent dance studio or a computer store would have no problem doing their business.  What this essentially means is that people decide what business they want where they live.

Its a known fact that business owners must comply with all Federal, State, city/town to ensure their business is legal and runs smoothly.  States and cities/towns are of local nature and still hold enormous power over how they want their businesses to run.  Not all is lost.  Besides compliance, there is another way to make sure the business process in the community is doable.  Business owners can and should become an integral part of their local government.  They can work with and participate in the community to ensure they reflect the area and assist growth in the community which in turn improve their chances of staying afloat and profiting.

Written by Margarita Smirnova, Esq.

If you have a specific question relating to your business or any other legal questions, please contact Margarita

Call: (617)398-7482

E-mail: margarita.smirnova@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

no comments posted in: Business Law   |   Commercial Law   |   Litigation
July 29, 2012   Posted by: Margarita Smirnova

Use disclaimers if you want to prevent your e-mail communications from turning into a legally binding contract.

Internet has already changed our lives and how we do business.  A definition of a deal is also evolving!  For better or worse, Massachusetts E-Sign law is changing the way we do transactions today.  A Massachusetts case Feldberg v. Coxall (May 22, 2012) says that an email with an unsigned offer may create a binding agreement.  In its decision, the court relied on the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 110G. The main factors are the context and the surrounding circumstances of between the parties’ communication.

The case involved a real estate transaction consisting of an undeveloped property located in Sudbury, Massachusetts.  Parties negotiated and the prospective buyer e-mailed an offer to the seller with definitive price tag in the amount of $475,000.00.  Later, the prospective seller refused to sell the property.  The issue was whether the emails reflected an offer and acceptance sufficient to show a present intent to be bound to the purchase and sale.  The buyer sued.  The buyer claimed that emails reflected the binding contractual agreement because it satisfied the Statute of Fraud requirements.  See Feldberg v. Coxall.  Under the Statute of Fraud, agreements involving land transaction must be signed.  See http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws for more information.

Essentially, the best way to prevent an unwanted contract from forming is to include a disclaimer in your e-mail correspondence stating that the e-mail exchange will not constitute a binding agreement unless signed in writing or stated otherwise.

Written by Margarita Smirnova, Esq.

If you have a specific question relating to your business, please contact
Margarita

Call: (617)875-8663

E-mail: margarita.smirnova@gmail.com