Safe Trading Guidelines
- Understand what you need to do to protect yourself when using mtvan mtvan is a site solely for the use of trade users, ie people who are likely to know what they are doing in the courier industry, but even so, it’s really important that before you get started you understand the care that should be taken when trading on mtvan, to ensure the best chance of a safe and happy outcome. mtvan is a website designed to enable courier businesses to find couriers suitable for the delivery of their particular delivery needs, and for couriers to find loads. The system includes a feedback and review system, similar to many other websites. These systems can have their limitations, but are probably better than no feedback system. In particular they can help to highlight repeatedly problematic couriers, and/or courier companies who repeatedly breach payment terms. These systems cannot be relied upon as the only basis on which to make a judgement about the suitability of a particular courier or courier company. There are other factors that should be considered before committing yourself to a particular choice of courier or courier company, just as there are in any trade between courier company and courier.
- mtvan’s role
mtvan provides an entirely neutral online environment in which courier businesses who need their customers’ courier work covered can find couriers who are willing to carry out the delivery in return for an agreed fee. mtvan is designed to help solve the problem for courier company control rooms of covering courier work, and for couriers looking for extra loads. By opening the market out to a wide range of couriers, and by making the bidding transparent to all, mtvan assists courier businesses in their efforts to secure a sensibly priced deal, and gives couriers the best chance of securing a load.The information placed by users, (both courier companies and couriers) on mtvan can form a useful part of the decision making process when selecting a suitable courier. You may well need to ask for further information and/or documentation from a courier or courier company before committing yourself, just as you would if you were trading face to face.When trading with a courier or courier company, no matter which method you use to find him eg a site like Yellow Pages or Gumtree, a Google search, or face to face, or on a site like mtvan, you need to take the same care, to be sure that you know who you are dealing with, and whether they can be trusted.mtvan does not endorse any particular user, courier company or courier.
mtvan has no relationship with any courier or courier company beyond membership of mtvan. This is really important.
mtvan does not check the validity of any claim made by any user, courier company or courier.
mtvan does not play any role in identity checking, fraud prevention, crime prevention, criminal record checking or any other kind of validation role.
mtvan makes no attempt to vouch for the legality, safety, or integrity of any activity visible on the website.
- What to consider when choosing a courier to carry your customers’ goods
Light Haulage Operators, Couriers, and “White Van Men” in Europe operate in a mainly unregulated market, so some caution is, in the normal way, essential. This means that you need to take real care when choosing a courier to carry your customers’ goods. This is true whichever method you use to find a courier. Whether you use Yellow Pages, a card in a local shop, Google search, a face to face meeting, or a site like mtvan, you need to exercise the same caution, as to who you are dealing with, and whether they can be trusted with your customers’ goods. Think about the value of your customers’ goods, and ask yourself if you are happy to trust that much value to the courier. Is the courier insured for Goods in Transit for the nature and value of your customers’ goods? Does he have Public Liability in case of damage or injury? Have you seen credible evidence to that effect?Do you know who you are trading with? Have you positively established his personal identity adequately, or do you know the exact name of the limited company if appropriate, and have you run a credit check on the company? Can you be sure you can get in touch with him later if there’s a problem? Do you have anything like a business card, a utility bill, a driving licence, a passport, a landline number you have tried, a website you think looks genuine, a leaflet that is convincing?
Have you sought any recommendations, either online or from a trusted source?
Are his appearance and demeanour convincing? And his van? And any staff he employs?
Establishing whether a courier can be contacted later is an important part of deciding whether or not to trust them with your delivery.
When using mtvan to help you find a courier, you are free to choose the one you think best meets your needs. mtvan strongly recommends that you check that a courier is properly insured for the nature and value of your customers’ goods, that they have public liability insurance, and that you have identity confirmation and contact details that you can later rely on.
Every reputable courier will understand this, and will be happy for you to ask to see such documentation at the outset.
Although mtvan orders the bids in price order, it is important to remember that you are not obliged to choose the lowest bid. As in other areas of life, you may wish to pay a little more to derive some benefits that paying more may bring. These benefits could include using someone with a known and trusted brand, better review feedback, more apparent experience, a more suitable van, better equipment to keep your customers’ stuff undamaged, better communication skills, proper documentation, or just someone who makes you generally more comfortable.
- Essential actions to take when using mtvan to find a courier
Use your common sense. Just because a courier has bid on your delivery, it doesn’t mean that he is a suitable choice for your delivery. You need to do some homework first to check any claims he’s making as to his identity, his location, his past performance, his experience, his equipment and vehicle availability, his integrity, his CRB status, his company status if applicable, and so on.Treat requests for payment up front with scepticism, but with an open mind. It’s not that this is out of the question, but it should be done in the context of having checked adequately that it’s a sensible move in the real world. Does it secure you a better price? Is it justifiable in the light of how much you have already spent with him? Is it a deposit of part of the bid price? Can you be sure you’ll be able to contact him to get it back if there’s a problem later? Do know know exactly who you are giving the money to, in the event of any dispute?Look through enough of the messaging on mtvan between users, when available, to get a feel for the way the courier communicates and does business.Consider accepting not the cheapest bid, as quality may well be more important to you than price.
Consider accepting no bid at all, if you are not entirely happy with the bids or the bidders. You can always wait for more to arrive. If necessary, re-list your delivery after a suitable period of time, as the availability of more suitable couriers may have changed in that time.
Before releasing your customers’ goods to a courier, consider carefully what you would do if your consignment went missing or were damaged. Would you feel that you had taken enough precautions to ensure the true indentity, reliable contactability, adequate insurance, and general integrity of your chosen courier? Considering that only after there’s been a problem is too late.
You may wish to check on precautions he will take, and equipment he employs to prevent damage in transit and while loading and unloading, and ensure that the customer understands the need to wrap the goods adequately. For the sake of a happy outcome, this should be treated as a mutual responsibility. Better to prevent damage than have to claim on insurance.
Above all, always ask to see evidence of identity, insurance, and contactability BEFORE committing your customers’ goods, and preferably before accepting the bid. The right kind of couriers will understand completely and will not take offence.
- Guidelines for use when accepting courier work as a courier
Be sure you know exactly who you are trading with. Before you do the job you need to know who you need to claim against in court in the event of dispute later. The exact spelling of the company name, or the name of the partner of the firm if it’s not limited, and the address and landline number. Make reasonable checks, as described above, such as thoroughly googling the company name, calling the landline back, and checking the premises on Google Streetview.Make sure you get a suitable confirmation of the job (eg an email with the job details, the price agreed, and details of who to invoice and payment terms) before you do the job. You may need to rely on it later in court.You can check someone’s VAT number here: VAT Check
You can check Companies House here: UK Companies House Check
Use Google to find out what you can about them.
Discuss and agree price, payment terms, invoicing format and POD format before doing the job.
Be sure you can get back to the customer in the event of dispute later.
Really importantly, only give as much credit as you can afford to lose. This may mean turning down work, or insisting on payment upfront before further work is undertaken. Don’t be caught up in the excitement of a big new customer to a point where you put more money at risk than is sensible. Consider asking for a trade reference, ie someone you could call quickly before doing the job to check that payment is reliable from this customer. It’s a sad fact that companies often seek new suppliers when they have run out of credit with their existing suppliers.
Finally, make sure you’re not being suckered into a criminal enterprise. For example, if you’re asked to collect valuable items from a shop, by someone you don’t know, and then are asked to divert to deliver to a non-fixed address (eg a van in a lay-by), bells should be ringing in your head. Turn the job down. If you’ve started the job, call the Police before completing it.
Only leave feedback once you have been paid.