Half (52%) of small firms have been stung by unfair contract terms with suppliers, costing nearly \u00a34bn in the last three years.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nNew research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found suppliers are failing to make auto-rollover clauses clear (24%), tying business into lengthy notice periods (22%), charging high termination fees (20%) and concealing details in small print (20%).\r\n\r\nTwo in five (40%) respondents said they felt powerless to do anything about unfair contract terms because the supplier was \u2018too important or powerful\u2019 to challenge, highlighting small firms can be just as vulnerable as consumers when buying goods and services.\r\n\r\nMike Cherry, national chairman at the FSB, said small firms \u201con the bad end of a deal\u201d are losing out to the tune of \u00a31.3bn each year. He said: \u201cWe have identified persistent problems with suppliers, across sectors, treating small firms unfairly. This suggests the market is failing to deliver value for money products and services for small business customers.\u201d\r\n\r\nHe added: \u201cSmall businesses don\u2019t have the time, expertise or purchasing power to scour the market to find and negotiate the best deals. Small business owners behave in a similar ways to consumers, but they don\u2019t have the same guarantees of quality or legal redress in an unfair situation.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe research suggests 2.8 million small firms have suffered because of unfair contract terms.\r\n\r\nOne in 10 (11%) small businesses affected by unfair terms was set back by more than \u00a35,000 dealing with a single problem. Meanwhile, two in five (37%) lost more than \u00a31,000 through an unfair agreement with a supplier.\r\n\r\nThe FSB said to drive change in this area, government and regulators of energy, financial services and telecoms should more routinely and explicitly focus on small business vulnerabilities.\r\n\r\nCherry added of small businesses were better protected when entering a contract with a supplier, they would have more confidence and trust in the market.\r\n\r\n\u201cSuppliers would be more accountable and businesses would spend less time and money dealing with the fallout. Tackling unfair contract terms would lead to a more efficient and competitive economy,\u201d he said.