A B2B Advertiser *WARNING* about StaffBenefits.Co.Uk
This is our review and contract renewal warning for any B2B business advertiser thinking of, or currently, advertising on www.staffbenefits.co.uk ; learn from our experience and do not make the same mistakes we did, with regards to their restrictive notice and renewal terms. It may double your costs.
Summary: We had a telesales call, then a face-to-face sales pitch about advertising directly with NHS staff on their intranet. We were sold the concept and spent £1717.20 on a two-year advertising NHS Intranet package. Due to the fine print and lack of renewal warnings near the end, got stuck into another two years for another £1717.20. Total cost £3434.40 inc. VAT. Our business gained £0.00. For a micro-business struggling with lockdowns and Covid, to succumb to these business practices has had a lasting negative effect.
Most companies we have come across allow notice to be given at the end, either by phone or email. However, if the contract happens to renew automatically, we have found in most instances, cancellation tends to be needed on a 30, 60, or 90-day rolling basis. With this contract, we failed to give notice in the first 365 days, so the contract rolled over into a 1460 day, four-year contract. That's right, we had to terminate in year 1 of a 2-year contract or we were locked into 4 years, in total
In our opinion, when a company has drastic renewal terms and restrictive notice requirements, it means they can’t retain business through the quality of service, and need to hook people in. Posts online have referred to this company’s service as a scam, and we won't argue with that.
Please don’t make the same mistake we did!!
How the contract can catch you out! Buyer Beware!
- Contract cancellation must be at the BEGINNING half of the contract! This seems designed to get people locked into the contract extension.
- Termination notice delivery is in a highly restrictive manner! Failure to follow their notice delivery method may invalidate your legal notice. The notice requirements seem to us to be designed to make it very hard and inconvenient to give notice.
- There is no guarantee your advert will be shown to local NHS staff. There is no contractual obligation to advertise with the NHS or any other staff that we can see.
- Not everything the telesales and salesperson may tell in their sales pitch is contractually binding and may not be delivered.
About the website StaffBenefits.Co.uk
The website is currently (13/08/2021) run by a limited company called Online Marketing Services Ltd and trades under the name OMS Online Marketing Services with what seems an inactive website www.omservices.co.uk.
The company is controlled by Claire Louise Martin, who is a director and person with significant control.
The company address, according to their contracts, emails, and Facebook is 4th Floor, Colmore Gate, 2 – 6 Colmore Row, Birmingham B3 2QD. They have recently moved to 11 Brindley Place, 2 Brunswick Square, Birmingham B1 2LP. Their telephone number on the emails is 0121 655 0074.
The website was previously run through a limited company called Internet Media Experts Ltd run by Lee Martin. We don't know if Lee Martin and Claire Louise Martin are related or not. The company was liquidated, and the staffbenefits.co.uk website was transferred to the current company controlled by Claire Louise Martin.
According to Companies House, Online Marketing Services Ltd was run by Lee Alan Walls (Resigned), Lee Martin (resigned) and Clare Louise Martin (Active)
(Amusing observation we made: When we viewed the Facebook page on 25/07/21, the page had photographs that we assumed depicted their office. It seems the images are used by companies, especially in South Africa and Russia, according to a Google Search. Their company filed accounts, show 5 staff employed, so we think definitely a bit of marketing went into the photo choice. The photo predates this company's formation)
The contract is very hard to read, with very small writing that is around 1.5mm high. Even with corrective glasses we struggled to read it.
- The advert is placed on staffbenefits.co.uk. They will promote to NHS Trusts or other organisations.
Our interpretation is that OMS Online Marketing Services will only try to get their website link shown to NHS Trusts, those trusts are not obliged to link, and many may not list this website.
- We believe NHS Trusts may provide several advertising links to their staff, and there is nothing to say this website is THE single NHS Trust Intranet benefit site their staff use.
Notice has to be given at the BEGINNING HALF of the contract! Don’t assume, as it common practise, it is near the end.
- How often have you come across this? Let us know.
- Failure to give notice in the prescribed manner will mean the contract automatically renews for a duplicate term.
- Notice must be given by Royal Mail, First Class Signed For post to the registered address
- Even if received and signed for, notice is not deemed given unless a POST OFFICE, proof of POSTAGE receipt is held. So, if you use Tracked, Special Delivery, 2nd Class, 1st Class, or any other method besides Royal Mail, First Class Signed For / Recorded with a POST OFFICE receipt, notice has not been given according to the contract.
- How many contracts have you come across with similar, restrictive notice requirements? It’s a first for us so let us know, please.
- If you use Franked Mail or the Royal Mail collects your mail, that is no good. You need to go to your Post Office Branch, possibly queue, post the item and get the proof of postage. Royal Mail and Post Office are different. You need the Post Office receipt.
- Email or telephone notice is not contractually binding.
As of 13/08/21 – Six 1-star reviews for the staffbenefits.co.uk website/business, seemingly from businesses https://goo.gl/maps/8DYHbFrhSzu61Kbd6
It can be challenging to see the B2B business advertiser reviews for this company. Their Trustpilot page has many consumer reviews, which are on the whole positive, and this can bury negative B2B advertiser reviews. Finding the business reviews can be done using keyword searches or filtering for the 1-star reviews. We are only concerned with the advertiser reviews.
From 2015 there are quite a few 1-star B2B advertiser reviews with some titles, dates and links. Please note there are consumer positive reviews; please visit Trustpilot to view those. The list below is filtered for some of the business reviews we could find.
14/10/15 - Avoid
08/10/15 - £2000 down the drain, avoid staffbenefits.co.uk
05/10/18 - Not acceptable behaviour
23/10/18 - Run a mile!
06/11/15 - Stay away!
30/11/17 - Avoided at all costs. Expensive with no results
18/12/17 - Stay away from this company
10/08/21 - Advertisers Beware, The T&C’s can double the length of your contract if they rollover. (our review)
There are more 1-star company reviews, however, we don't want to add too many links here for technical reasons. We searched for positive business reviews, and we managed to find a couple using keywords company, advertise etc. There may be more, however we doubt it.
View them all here https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/staffbenefits.co.uk?stars=1
Advertisers on StaffBenefits.Co.UkIt seems it is relatively simple, to find deals to offer through affiliate programs, with the benefit that some big names can be on your website. We imagine this could impress the small and micro-businesses out there, in that they may get the impression they get to advertise with the big corporates. Small advertisers may think, for example, if BMW, Subway, Costa etc. is paying to advertise on Staffbenefits.co.uk, perhaps we should. We think it is the small guys, like us, who probably splash out money upfront, and the big names, only pay out on results. We believe that the big names are just window dressing and its the small companies that are the real target. Is this really how it works? If you work in marketing, do let us know!
Before we were removed off their site, we counted the advertisers. There are roughly forty unique advertisers on there, that we counted. Some of those names are pretty big, the likes of BMW, Subway, Costa, Apple, Odeon, Virgin etc.
So this is puzzling to us; why would top names partner with this company? Do these blue-chip type companies seek out small advertisers and companies like this one?
We think they are unlikely to. Doing some research, some of these top names have Affiliate Programs where companies can approach them and earn commission on referrals. One example we found was an excellent company, Office Monster (we use them - highly recommended); they do B2B stationary. We wondered why would they be advertising on a consumer website? Here are some details for their affiliate program listed through Awin - Office Monster Affiliate Program
We will be writing to all the advertisers to enquire, hopefully, they will respond.
This post is written to share, bring awareness and alert other companies like us, to the business practices of this company and its website. We want to warn them to be extra vigilant, and from our experience, we advise based on our experience, that any business approached by Online Marketing Services Ltd / StaffBenefits.Co.Uk / OMS Online Marketing services to stay away from them!
What we have learnt, advise, and what we will do in future to avoid businesses like the above whether its just restrictive terms, poor results, scam artists, dubious contracts or anyone who may be fraudulent.
- Always read the terms before signing and take a few days doing so. Never rely on salespersons warranties. Get it all in writing within the contract itself.
- Always check the termination notice period and method in the contract. Diarise and give not early if not straight after signing to avoid forgetting. Don't assume all companies have the helpful and service orientated model where they warn you.
- There is little protection in B2B contracts. Buyer beware!
- Be extra vigilant with a face-to-face salesman, as what they say, may not be enforceable in the contract or delivered.
- Beware cold-callers.
- Any time a salesperson says sign now, or threatens you with losing a discount or price, run a mile! They probably have something to hide or know once you have time to think and research, you will see it is not a good deal or a scam/fraud.
- Research the website, reviews, legal company, and Company House reports.
- Anyone who mentions NHS Intranet, be aware there are loads of discount sites out there.
A last funny illustration about Online Marketing Services Ltd.
They told us they did remind us about the renewal. This confused the hell out of us as we never received a renewal email! So we looked, and they did send a reminder, but not what we would consider a renewal email.
We signed the 2-year contract on 17/07/2019, and the email they sent was a few days later, on 07/08/2019. We looked, could not immediately find the email. The email these people sent had the subject "Copy of Paid Invoice", and within the body at the end, a sentence about renewal. As much as we would love to read invoice emails from the first line to last, it's not something we usually do with them. We just forward them to our bookkeeper. They told us this was their renewal reminder, and this pretty much sums up the company in our opinion!!
If you were/are an advertiser on their site, feel free to contact us.
Note: all information given above it our opinion based on our experience of this company, their website and contract. Information correct as 17/08/2021
We say, buyer beware, be warned, learn from our errors and don't fall for these people they way we did!