First there was the European City Guide now there is the Euro Trade Register Update 2012, which appears to be offering businesses a "free" listing or asking if you wish to continue being included in a hard copy or online business directory. Businesses may be asked to check the details on their company or small firm or be informed that an employee of yours has requested the form.
You will be told to return the form even if you don't want to place an order.
The con is that in the small print it will state that by signing the form you are committing to an order. If you sign and return the form you are agreeing to pay for ongoing entries in the Directory, costing hundreds of pounds per year. The publisher may try to enforce this debt by sending threatening "debt collection" letters.
You can protect your business by always carefully reading the small print in any business directory offer in order to be clear about what you are being offered and the costs involved.
Stephen Hughes MEP contacted the Office of Fair Trading about such business to business scams and was told:-
"Unfortunately, the enforcement powers of the Office of Fair Trading in relation to business to business scams are limited. Under the UK Misleading Advertising laws, we can act against misleading advertising originating from the UK, however, the Office of Fair Trading cannot take direct action against misleading advertising targeting businesses that originate from other Member States of the European Union".
Mr Hughes also contacted Commissioner Viviane Reding of the European Commission and was assured that:-
"...the Stockholm action plan foresees a possible review of Directive 2006/114/EC concerning misleading and comparative advertising and this matter can be considered as part of this wider review. In this context, the European Commission will issue by the end of 2011 a Communication which will identify and examine areas for possible revision of the Directive."
Mr Hughes, speaking from Brussels today said:-
"My office was sent an email from the Euro Trade Register and we recognised this as a scam. I would urge all businesses in the North East to be vigilant about a communication coming from this organisation and suggest that you forward the correspondence you receive to the Office of Fair Trading in your area or to the Office of Fair Trading, Fleetbank House, 2-6 Salisbury Square, London, EC4Y 8JX".
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