FSB: Is it worth joining if you run a small business?
Two years ago I joined the Federation of Small Businesses, or FSB. It’s an organisation in the UK that helps and supports small businesses. They provide lots of benefits too. Things like legal advice, assistance in case of tax investigation amongst others. (It’s worth looking at their website, http://fsb.org.uk, to discover more about what they offer).
One of their benefits is financial support for business owners who get summoned for jury service. If you read their literature, they claim to pay up to £100 per day up to a maximum of £1,000 for every day their members serve as a juror.
As I was summoned in January 2011, prior to starting Gavin Thorn Photography, I hadn’t expected to use this benefit at all. Nevertheless, when I joined the organisation in 2013, it gave me a warm feeling: if I was called again, at least I’d have something to tide me over. Or so I thought.
Fast forward to June 2014…
Then the court summons arrived. I’d been called for jury service again. The date was right in the middle of my holiday so I deferred it and the court kindly put it back to the beginning of 2015. As the date approached I contacted the FSB to find out how to make a claim – there’s no information about this on their website. After a few telephone calls I managed to navigate my way through their call centre (not a great customer experience if I’m honest but then what call handling system is?) and finally got to speak to someone who could help me. She emailed the forms over that afternoon so I knew exactly what I needed to send them when I made my claim.
January 2015 came and went. The court sent me the paperwork I needed and I filled out the clam form then sent it off.
Imagine my horror to discover yesterday the FSB refused to pay a single penny in compensation. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Funnily enough they’re still more than happy to take my membership fees from me.
It was an insurance policy that would never pay out.
The upshot is, in my situation, my membership of the FSB is completely worthless. I had no protection and I had no support. In my case it’s an insurance policy that doesn’t pay out. That, dear reader, leaves a very bad taste in the mouth.
Time to cancel…
Needless to say I’ll be cancelling my membership forthwith.
My advice? If you’re thinking of joining, don’t just listen to the sales pitch. Make sure you do your own due diligence. Just because the FSB refused to help me doesn’t mean they won’t help you.
It’s ironic that as a sole trader I run a small business but they’re really there to support much bigger businesses than mine. I estimate you need a turnover in excess of £80,000 per year to receive the full benefit of membership.
Crunching the numbers I would need to at least quadruple the size of my business to claim benefit. This begs another question… “What other benefits of FSB membership are there that are completely worthless to me?“