It could be an opportunity, depending on the potential neighbour.
Assuming they have a generally good reputation, it may be worth speaking with a senior partner there, explaining that you're looking to relocate and it might be next door. If they'll tell you their ideal client profile, and it is very different to yours, you may be able to come to a gentleman's agreement not to poach each other's clients, but also for each of you to refer potential new clients between yourselves to whichever they'd be the best fit for.
You might even find that they could pass you some overspill work at busy times or if they need expertise in specialist areas you've got and they lack.
Is it a UK company ?
My understanding is that EU- prefixed VAT numbers are issued to non-EU companies who incur VAT obligations within the EU (e.g. certain China-based Amazon sellers fulfilling orders via a UK warehouse).
Although it is likely nothing untoward is going on, it would be worth establishing the exact company structure, where it is registered, where the directors are domiciled etc (i.e. all the standard KYC stuff, but maybe with a few additional probing questions).
Another question to ask is, wouldn't it be simpler just to register the business in the US, which means they could sign up to Amazon.com. Signing up to Amzon.co.uk, and then jumping through all e extra hoops to sell in the US and potentially reclaim VAT seems to me to be a little unnecessarily (and maybe artificially) complicated, unless there's a very good reason for it.
See if there is a way you can check quality before taking the plunge, and if there is anything you need to do technically to maintain quality. I'd definitely ask lots of questions about whether your internet upload speed is enough to support current internet use plus VOIP calls.
I dread talking to some support lines, because they use VOIP and sound so muffled. What is impossible to know is whether the problem is that they use VOIP, or that they are trying to push too much data down a cheap line, or that it's a call centre with 1000 people in the room all using cheap headsets that don't sufficiently damp down the other 999 people talking.
It's a shame there isn't some way to measure the clarity of speech over it that could be built into an SLA.
What kind of clients do you want ?
If you prefer to deal with sole trader tradesmen, CIS clients, and the "old school" clients who turn up with a cardboard box full of a year's receipts (and I recognise that these kinds of clients can be profitable and pleasant to deal with), then a website probably isn't too important.
If you prefer clients from office-based service industries, e-commerce businesses etc, then a decent website is essential.
I know when I'm looking for a new service provider, I Google the companies in the local area (I prefer to support local businesses where I can), and shortlist down to 3-4 entirely based on their websites. Word of mouth recommendation is a key factor, but I still look at their websites as well. It's only then that I contact the ones on the shortlist, so those without a website, or with a poorly designed website have already lost out on the chance of the work.
You don't need a website with lots of bells and whistles, just an attractive, fast-loading and up-to-date "brochureware" site.
If you really want the client, you could quote them for three options;
1. A plain hourly rate.
2. A fixed fee which includes up to "X" hours of support & advice, with additional support chargeable at your hourly rate and X being a reasonable guess at where you think the support requirement will bottom out after, say, 6 months.
3. "Unlimited" support charged at the equivalent to 35 (or more) hours a week, on the assumption that you'll effectively be working for them full time if they think they can get away with it !
Paypal buttons are a great way to get the ball rolling on an E-Commerce business. Yes, they will charge you fees, but personally, I think their fees are excellent value compared to those charged by credit card processors. PayPal fees are all transaction based, while the traditional card processors will generally have fixed fees of £20-£30 a month, complex transaction fees based on the type of card used, £30-£50 PCI-DSS fees per annum, and sometimes an initial set-up fee as well. Most important of all, PayPal doesn't tie you into a 2-3 year contract.
Areas of concern for PayPal are that they tend to tilt things a bit in the buyer's favour if things go wrong (loss / fraud), and their standard checkout is very basic when it comes to setting up postal charges, particularly international ones.
I'd suggest that if things go well (and hopefully they will !), you might look at something like RomanCart after a few months. It still works with PayPal buttons, but provides lots of help when it comes to the html used for more complex ones (options, colour choices etc). It also has excellent shipping setup and invoicing capabilities (useful as PayPal never seem to have got their head around the legal requirements of VAT invoices...). A stand-alone shopping cart is a useful halfway house on the way to a full e-commerce website, but is less complex and less expensive.
Good luck with the new business venture !
I get lots of emails like this, often from "businesses" purporting to be official or semi-official registrars in China. They'll either register a whole bunch of domains on your behalf at a ridiculously inflated cost, or take your money for doing nothing, or just plain steal your credit card details.
Add them to your spam list, and whatever you do don't reply in any way, because then they'll know they've got a "live" email address and sell it to hundreds of other scammers. The latest twist is for their emails to ask for delivery, read and/or deleted receipts, in the hope that you'll automatically hit the "yes" button out of habit, which again confirms your email address is live. Another one to watch out for is where scammers send meeting requests through, which add themselves to your calendar if you're using Outlook or a similarly full-featured email client. Check your settings; in most cases declining or deleting the request either from email or within calendar will send a notification to the originator.
Royal Mail are not always VAT exempt
Even before privatisation, shortly after the Royal Mail regulator changed from PostComm to Ofcom they started charging VAT to customers with business accounts.
While most (but I don't believe all) post paid for at a Post Office counter is VAT exempt, once a customer opens a business account, they normally move onto a pricing structure where most postage types are quoted and charged exclusive of VAT. To be sure, you'd need to look at the invoice or check Royal Mail's (rather over-complex) rate tables.
From memory, STL and SD1 service codes are VAT exempt, while CRL, OLA and T201 (among others) are standard rated.
Amazon have always levied Marketplace fees based on total sale value including postage. Ebay introduced a 10% fee on postage charged a few months ago as part of a raft of measures to encourage sellers to offer "free" shipping (i.e. in practice to include postage in with the item price).
Won't HMRC have something to say ?
I admit I'm not an expert in this particular area of company law. But if Newco has bought any of the assets of Oldco, it it could be argued that the substance (no matter what the form) is that the supplier has been created as an indirect preferential creditor. Some of the value of the assets will be used to pay them, which could mean that HMRC misses out on some of their slice.
I fully appreciate that the supplier wants to (and should be) paid rather than writing the debt off against tax. But why have they let a debt ride for a year without pursuing it through the courts ? With (as has been suggested) a more neutral IP installed, could the debt be pursued directly with the directors if wrongful trading can be proven ?
Royal Mail and VAT
Royal Mail already charge their business customers VAT and fuel surcharge for everything except the most basic letters. I think they also charge the public VAT for some value-added services, but I'd have to check to be sure.