It’s back folks well, it never really went away: European City Guide (ECG), aka Industry and Commerce. Since it has 16 other names to my knowledge, it’s hard to keep track of them.
To remind those of you who haven’t heard from ECG, it sends out its ‘business registration forms’, asking you to tick boxes. Mrs P Patel got one at her store in Port Talbot and it had wrongly (probably deliberately) identified her as a PO. She corrected it, posted it and thought no more about it. Then came the bill for her ‘ad on the internet’. In Euros, 1,176. That’s 1,000-odd quid.
They emailed her a copy of their terms and conditions. First time she had seen these - she maintains they were not on the back of the corrected form she sent to them. (To be fair to ECG, the T&Cs may have been there. The company uses such teeny-weeny type as to be near invisible!)
Her son Hitesh sent me all ECG’s guff, but I was able to ID them the minute his mother mentioned euros, tick boxes, ads, guides. I’ve been writing about ECG for most of the 21st century.
A press release from the Office of Fair Trading informed me in 2003 that a Catalan court had shut ECG for a year, so it moved on, from Barcelona to Valencia and set up again, fleecing as much of Europe as possible.
The website stopecg.org is still up, although I believe its petition to get an inquisition finished last year. It estimates there have been 32,000 ‘trick contracts’ issued over six years.
The only good news is that ECG can only harass. Where’s it going to take you to court? Its shady tactics would come to light anyway. But show the form to your trading standards officers to keep them in the loop.