Archive for December, 2010
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It’s always heart-warming to receive a mailshot asking you to enjoy a free gift, isn’t it? And this one’s a doozy. I got it today.
The message was from Business Update 2011-2012. Clearly they’re a reputable firm. They said that if I wanted “my company inserted into the registry of World Business for 2011/2012 edition”, I should print off their form and submit the PDF file to their address, which is
WORLD BUSINESS GUIDE,
PO BOX 3079
3502 GB, UTRECHT
Underneath, it happily points out that “Updating is free of charge!”
I’m glad to hear it. Updating could otherwise be such an expensive chore, couldn’t it? What the thing doesn’t say, though, is that it’s not the first year that’s free – it’s any updates to it. This is a contract (read the first three letters of that word) for 995 Euros per annum. And if you don’t cancel, the contract rolls on. Oh, and if you don’t read the small print in the first 8 days, you’re deemed to have signed.
So, folks – you’re in your office today, and you think – ah, I think that looks good. It’s a deal. I’ll take the free offer. Unfortunately that means you’re committing your business to the money – but it’s better than that. If you read the small print carefully (and it is fairly small, isn’t it?) what you’re agreeing to is THREE YEARS rolling contract, not one.
This is what it says:
“THE SIGNING OF THIS DOCUMENT REPRESENTS THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS AND THE CONDITIONS STATED IN “THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR INSERTION” ON WEBPAGE:WWW.WORLD-BUSINESSGUIDE.COM. THE SIGNING IS LEGALLY BINDING AND GIVES YOU THE RIGHT OF AN INSERTION IN THE ONLINE DATA BASE OF THE WORLD BUSINESS GUIDE, WHICH CAN BE ACCESSED VIA THE INTERNET. A CD ROM WITH WORLDWIDE BUSINESS IS GRANTED ALL IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONTRACT CONDITIONS STATED IN “THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR INSERTION” ON WEBPAGE:WWW.WORLD-BUSINESSGUIDE.COM. THE VALIDATION TIME OF THE CONTRACT IS THREE YEARS AND STARTS ON THE EIGHTH DAY AFTER SIGNING THE CONTRACT. THE INSERTION IS GRANTED AFTER SIGNING AND RECEIVING THIS DOCUMENT BY THE SERVICE PROVIDER. I HEREBY ORDER A SUBSCRIPTION WITH SERVICE PROVIDER INTERNATIONAL DIRECTORIES LTD “WORLD BUSINESS GUIDE”. I WILL HAVE AN INSERTION INTO ITS DATA BASE FOR THREE YEARS. THE PRICE PER YEAR IS EURO 995. THE SUBSCRIPTION WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY EXTENDED EVERY YEAR FOR ANOTHER YEAR, UNLESS SPECIFIC WRITTEN NOTICE IS RECEIVED BY THE SERVICE PROVIDER OR THE SUBSCRIBER TWO MONTHS BEFORE THE EXPIRATION OF THE SUBSCRIPTION. YOUR DATA WILL BE RECORDED. THE PLACE OF JURISDICTION IN ANY DISPUTE ARISING IS THE SERVICE PROVIDER’S ADDRESS. THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE SERVICE PROVIDER AND THE SUBSCRIBER IS GOVERNED BY THE CONDITIONS STATED IN “THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR INSERTION” ON WEBPAGE: WWW.WORLD-BUSINESSGUIDE.COM”
In other words, I think this letter is a fraud. It’s trying to sell me a dodgy prospectus. It’s saying in the headline that I can have an entry in a registry. Underneath it says the update is free. It’s all too easy for people to link those two words. What it does not say, except in small print, is that this is a request for you to buy a three year contract that you cannot cancel – in other words, 995 euros times three.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had these cowboys try to rip me off. Luckily, being self-employed, I’ve always believed in reading the small print. I’ve also always believed that any offer that sounds too good to be true, probably is. Oh, and I don’t honestly give a flying wotsit about having my business in a register of any kind. Still, I always read unsolicited emails to see where the catch is.
There was a program on Radio 4 a little while ago which was trying to get these cowboys stopped and their mailing scam cancelled. Clearly they haven’t managed it yet, sadly. Still, we can hope that sometime someone will catch up with these nasty people and give them an incentive to stop trying to rob the innocent, and instead go and get a real job that helps people. I say that, because so many folks have bought this rip-off and seen themselves driven into real financial trouble. Not many people expect to see three thousand stolen, but this mob are ruthless about enforcing their contract. Not reading small print isn’t an excuse.
So, for goodness sake, read any offers carefully. Look at the small print, and when there is even a small niggle at the back of your mind, listen to it. The subconscious warning signs are all too often operating efficiently to save you money!