This will come as good news to retailers in this country who have been harassed by European City Guide (ECG), a company fingered as operating a scam by quite a few European countries. The high-profile website www.stopecg.org claims that 50,000+ businesses are fighting against bills they never expected to receive for their ‘free’ listings in this guide.

The last two retailers who rang me because they had been harassed by Swiss-based debt collection agency Premium Recovery AG will be keen to learn that the website reports that SECO, the Swiss state department for the economy, has been investigating scam guides for some time, and on September 6 announced a number of raids. Among them was Premium Recovery AG.

The Swiss authorities point out that the forms give the impression that the entry in the guide is free, but by completing and signing a form you tie yourself to a long contract costing four figures in euros. The fees charged bear no relation to the so-called‘benefits’. The Swiss conclude that, as the debt collection agencies being investigated also represent ECG in Spain, Austria and Germany, “there is reason to suspect an international scheme of dubious business practices”. So: don’t pay. And if you have been targeted, visit the website and fill out your petition to the European Parliament against the ECG.