An email arrived yesterday
Your business was a sponsor of the Borders Audio Guide recorded in 2005, we are currently putting together a guide on the Best Places to Stay in Scotland – a cross section of some of our 500 accommodation providers who have been sponsors of our Scottish series to-date.
Please visit http://www.discoveryaudioguides.com for more info on all our guides.
I will call back once you have had a look at this in more detail, to discuss your possible sponsorship.
Discovery Audio Guides Ltd
We did indeed pay money to this company back in 2005 but it wasn’t paid willingly. The gentleman involved came to see us and after a brief meeting we shook hands and he left. A few weeks later merchandise appeared – our not having said “NO” very loudly apparently meant that we had agreed to inclusion on his cds. We put it down to experience and the CDs and tapes gathered dust on the shelf. A year later a further invoice arrived – in the small print of the contract (which we hadn’t been given a copy of) we had apparently agreed to inclusion in the guides in perpetuity.
We refused to pay and, inevitably threatening letters from debt collectors arrived. Like most small businesses we had neither the time nor resources to fight them and paid up. We did however alert trading standards and an accommodation suppliers’ bulletin board that we sign up to.
So we weren’t terribly pleased to see Mr Xxxxx still in business and presumably using the same underhand tactics to gain business. Here’s my reply to his email:
We were signed up to your audio guides in 2005 without our approval and a further speculative invoice was presented one year later. We reluctantly paid this but would like nothing whatsoever to do with you,
your company or your audio guides. Any further communication from your company will be discarded without being read.
Quite restrained don’t you think? Granted “F*** off” would have been shorter but you have to maintain some decorum.
There are no end of marketing scams such as this. Granddaddy of them all is the Swiss CD ROM scam which appears with monotonous regularity…
Here’s the email that you get:
In order to have your company inserted in the EU Business Register for 2011/2012, please print, complete and submit the enclosed form to the following address:
EU BUSINESS REGISTER
BOX 252 – 28020 Madrid
Fax: +34 91 791 9167
Updating is free of charge!
Note that last line and note it carefully.
A pdf is attached. Here’s the top of it:. You’ll need to click on these to see them full size.
read the small print!
Did you notice that at the right hand side it says “updating is free of charge”? That’s twice they’ve said that now.
Here’s the bottom of the form. You’ll notice it’s in an odd blocky font that makes it difficult to read…
OK here’s a closer view:
Ah, there we are. Our “free” update will cost 995 Euros in perpetuity. Nice.
It’s worth noting a couple of things:
1) we haven’t actually fallen for this one – it’s too well known. I refer to it as the Swiss CDRom scam because for years the address was Lucerne. They seem to have upped sticks and moved to Spain now.
2) If you refuse to pay they will of course set the debt collectors on you. If you are an accommodation provider and have accidentally signed up to this thinking it’s free (where could you have got that idea?) then as far as we can tell there is NO case of anyone actually being taken to court by them. So hand over no money, stand your ground and get trading standards involved as soon as possible. It’s questionable what they can do with a company in another country but it makes you feel less alone and gives you a nice warm feeling inside.
Here endeth today’s lesson on scams. Have a nice day 🙂