At 2 AM switch to 3 AM in Europe on March 28, 2010.
It’s time to adjust the clocks in Europe again.
Tonight (or tomorrow morning if you will) clocks will be advanced from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. when daylight-saving-time begins in Europe this spring.
That means we (including me) lose one hour that we don’t get back until next fall when daylight-savings-time in Europe will end on Sunday, October 31, 2010. (Of course we will get it back without interest being paid. Maybe we’ll save a bit on the electric bill, but I’m not really sure about that.)
Attention to you folks in the USA and Canada: The time difference to Europe will get back to normal again.
Here are some examples to demonstrate the ‘usual time differences’ between USA, Canada and Europe.
In Europe it will begin in two weeks, and it will end in Australia in three weeks.
Especially if you are in Europe you could easily miss online events in the USA during the next two weeks.
Be aware of those time changes when planning or attending online events.
Here is why.
For example, when it is 1pm in New York it is usually 6pm in London. Between March 14 and March 27, 2010, however, it will be 5pm in London, only 4 hours later.
Then on March 28 daylight savings time will rule on both continents and time difference will be the usual 5 hours till the clocks will be reset in fall of 2010, again.
Life could be easier if daylight savings time were changed on the same weekends all over the world, but that's not the case.
To make things worse, Hawaii (and many other regions in the world) don't observe daylight savings time at all. On top of that Australia and New Zealand are on the southern hemisphere. While we start daylight savings time in the North, Australia will end it on April 4, 2010.
Tip:TimeAndDate.com (↑) offers detailed information and tools. Like a timezone converter, etc., …
Personally I am adding timezone information to event details. Don't leave room for assumptions. Don't assume your readers are educated about timezones, it's your job to communicate in a way they understand easily.
Here is an example for unambiguous event information.
Webinar starts on Friday, March 12, 2010 at 3:30 p.m. EST (UTC-05) as in New York, USA
Teleclass starts on Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 3:30 p.m. EDT (UTC-04) as in New York, USA.
Note: EST is Eastern Standard Time and EDT is Eastern Daylight Savings Time.
John W. Furst
P.S.: Especially US marketers seem to be unaware of — or lazy about — timezone issues that go beyond Eastern versus Pacific time. Check out my previous post on this subject: Email Marketing And Troubles With Timezones.
So should I care about the FTC? My business is in the U.K. Some sites hosted at Hostgator in the US, others here in London though. --James
Let me repeat my first answer.
Interesting and good question. I actually tipped the question off to some lawyer friends. Let's see what they come up with.
In general a business MUST respect all regulations and laws of the country where the customer -- especially a consumer -- is located.
Look at your hosting agreements with your US providers. They can pull the plug rather easily.
Hope that helps.
Let's face it, the regulations on both sides of the Atlantic are not too different altogether. It's much harder to comply with EU standards.
Disclaimer: IANAL (I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.)
Makes kind of sense, doesn't it. However, I wanted to know for sure and started some correspondence with lawyers, browsed government help sites for international trade issues, and news a bit.
Separate Website For Each Jurisdiction
The best solution would be to have a website for each jurisdiction and comply with the local standards there to the letter. That's actually what Amazon, Ebay, Paypal, and many international brands are doing (the really big businesses).
Too much effort for the little business probably, especially when starting out.
On the other hand one can be at a big advantage when offering a sought after product in the purchaser's native language in that national market. It's also interesting from the standpoint of SEO as it can be much easier to dominate a smaller, national market nice (should use country level domain, e.g., .de, .es, .uk, …).
Two thoughts (without proof):
Clickbank (world largest market place for digital products) reports growing sales of information products in foreign languages like Spanish, German, and French.
Ever thought about developing a product and licensing a foreign language version to someone else who will deal with all the local legal issues?
Think about it.
Fully Comply With Either One Jurisdiction
Consumer protection laws on both sides of the Atlantic kick in as soon as consumers file complaints. Therefore, some businesses focus on implementing the regulations where they have most of their customers.
Of course, this can get you in trouble locally.
For example: The legislation on how to handle shipping cost in case of a customer return is more relaxed in the USA than it is in Europe. Or anti-spam laws are more rigorous in Europe as well, even in business to business scenarios.
You better comply with the rules of the government that you have to pay taxes to as they can get to you quickly. But you shouldn't screw your oversea customers as well.
By the way:
If your non-compliance, earnings, (possible fraud triggering criminal charges) are big enough the US- or any European government will hunt you down, no matter where you are. A simple non compliance with a disclosure requirement for example can be interpreted as being a criminal fraud.
One internationally operating lawyer I corresponded with pointed at a case of a UK citizen who was extradited from Australia where he lived at the time to the USA. He pleaded guilty for having violated US e-commerce laws and is serving a five year term in a US federal prison. Not funny at all.
I didn't ask how big this fish was, but does it really matter?
Coming back to my initial statement:
“An ethical business should treat its customers as they can be expected to be treated as they are usually treated where thy live.”
You might not like those new regulations, they even might hurt your sales in the short run, … but only if you continue to do business on the fringe.
Don't risk violating the law in any country especially if you are making a nice full time income or more. Which brings me to in my opinion good a solution for small to medium businesses.
Hybrid Website Serving A Good Legal Mix
The major goal here is to optimally protect the business from a legal standpoint of view in both jurisdictions.
This is certainly not achieved by picking which regulations to comply with at random. An expert is required to balance the risk of getting prosecuted in any jurisdiction versus the customer experience.
The first job of your lawyer is to protect your business from governments and from not so honest customers respectively prospects.
Customer experience is the job of your business.
If your goal is to provide superior customer experience, I don't think that you will have problems with any legislation (in most cases) if you exercise due diligence.
John W. Furst Not a lawyer: This article reflects my personal
opinion is not any form of legal advice.
Advertisements are evaluated from the perspective of a typical consumer.
Three important questions.
(a) Whose opinion is displayed? (average consumer, the advertiser, an expert in that field, ...)
(b) Are there reasons this opinion could have been influenced by the advertiser?
(c) What are the results a typical, average customer can expect?
(Very soon anything without a disclaimer will look suspicious. )
Situation In The European Union
Let's not forget, the Internet is more or less a medium without national borders.
I mean to say, it is likely that any website targeted to US consumers will effect some of the 500 million consumers in the European union as well.