I feel as though I have always been writing about European City Guide (ECG), but every so often I get calls from yet more worried retailers who finds themselves with a bill for e937 (£643) for some spurious listing. I’ve had two complaints this month, my most recent being minutes before settling down to write this column.
In December Akram Malik, who runs Gawsworth Store in Manchester, says that he is normally careful, but thought he was signing up for a free listing as indeed that’s what the form looks like (I have several in my files).
Then he got the invoice and proof sheet of his ‘advert’ (ie his listing) and realised what he had actually signed. So he wrote on the form “Why would a newsagent want to advertise in Europe?” and sent it back with his cancellation. ECG has now sent reminders and will, as many of you will know, get heavy and threaten debt collectors and court.
Here’s what to do. Don’t pay. Go on to the Stop the European City Guide website (www.stopecg.org) and read all about it.
I have never heard of ECG taking anyone to court and neither has its opponents on the website. In fact, as the site explains, it has collected a fighting fund and would dearly love to test ECG in the courts.
ECG is no stranger to courts, though. Various versions of the ECG’s forms have been ruled to be both misleading and deceptive by the courts in Barcelona. (ECG is currently located in Valencia. The Catalan authorities have twice ruled against it, eventually closing it down, whereupon they pitched up in Switzerland and the Netherlands.)
The website urges action - if you do nothing else, write to the Valencian Authorities in Spain. The address is on the website.