Have you ever written an email to a company and received a bounce back?  Well, it seems that if you resort to writing a letter to them instead, they might still not receive it.

London Trading Standards has highlighted a problem it has encountered during an investigation it was carrying out about investment fraud: letters sent to registered offices are never received by the companies.

Limited liability companies are legally required to have a registered office in the UK under section 86 of the Companies Act 2006 which states: 

“a company must at all times have a registered office to which all communications and notices may be addressed.”  

It is worth noting that this says, “all communications and notices”.

However, London Trading Standards has pointed out that there is a thriving mail forwarding industry provided by trust and company service providers which allows limited companies to pick a ‘virtual’ registered office address that they can use. Over the last few years this trend has resulted in some limited companies selecting which type of mail is actually forwarded to them. For example, some choose to only receive written communications from official government agencies such as HM Revenue & Customs and Companies House with everything else being ignored (including letters from customers asking for problems to be resolved). The problem was highlighted after a letter from one London Trading Standards authority was returned to sender despite being addressed to the legally registered office of a limited company.

Although it may be tempting to avoid customer complaints in this way, it is a breach of professional diligence provisions in the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. Such a breach is a criminal offence for which directors and other company officers could be fined or imprisoned. Any trust and company service providers facilitating this practice could also be committing offences. 

Limited companies are therefore being urged to ensure that they have proper arrangements in place to receive all mail that is addressed to their registered office.

Customer service issues are regularly highlighted by the consumer press and by organisations such as Which? that regularly run surveys and publish articles about the customer experience of well-known companies.  Therefore, to provide good customer service, and to comply with the law, companies should ensure that postal addresses for complaints are clearly set out and that all correspondence to registered offices is forwarded to the relevant departments to be dealt with.