MEPs demand action on small business scams
Posted, December 16, 2008 @ 19:00
Business directory mis-selling causes misery
Strasbourg, 16th December 2008 -- MEPs have demanded tighter national laws and more action from the European Commission to ensure small businesses are afforded greater protection from directory scams.
Conservative MEP Sir Robert Atkins has campaigned for a crackdown on rogue directories for many years, but MEPs only got the chance today to vote on a report which was initiated after 400 petitions were received from aggrieved businesses.
The European City Guide and similar outfits advertise "free of charge" entries into business catalogues and then trick interested businesses into signing long-term agreements which foresee annual fees amounting to thousands of pounds. The scam forms have onerous contract terms in very small print, which are overlooked by businesses convinced they are merely getting a free listing. Although there is no evidence that these fraudsters have taken anyone to court to recover their fees, many small businesses have succumbed to the pressure of threats and parted with substantial sums of money.
The parliament has today called for greater awareness amongst business owners of the potential scam, tighter national laws on unfair commercial practices and for the European Commission to ensure national laws already in place comply strictly with current European law.
Sir Robert said:
"Small businesses are already under huge pressure in the current financial climate and can ill-afford to fall victim to these scams, which could in effect send some over the edge.
"It has been imperative for some time that we do all within our powers to ensure businesses are aware of these scams, and that national governments are encouraged to crack down on rogue directories.
"Many business owners have had their lives made a misery by the European City Guide and we will continue to act to shut it down for good."