MEP Warns Western Isles Businesses Against Marketing Scam

21 February 2006
Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith today joined with the Scottish Chambers of Commerce to call on businesses in the Western Isles to be wary of direct marketing scams. Mr Smith was speaking after having been contacted by several businesses targeted by a company called European City Guides.

Businesses have been left with invoices for thousands of pounds andeven visits from debt collectors after inadvertently signing up to contracts with ECG.

The scheme is against a European Directive on misleading advertising, but it is up to individual countries to take legal action against companies like European City Guides (ECG).

Mr Smith, speaking from Stornoway, said:

"This kind of scam can be very damaging to businesses. Not every business has the time or the resources to deal with law suits, debt collectors and the stress that can be caused.

"European City Guides are not the only company operating in this way. There are many firms on the Western Isles that may have been affected by it, and who may be being targeted at present.

"I want to advise all businesses to be aware of these activities and to be very careful when responding to any direct marketing they receive, especially anything by fax asking for company details.

"The Spanish government are hopefully taking action against ECG and I am supporting a petition in the European Parliament to bring an end to these sorts of activities. I will also be checking with the Scottish Executive and London government what action they are taking."

Liz Cameron, Director of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, added,

"These days firms have to be extremely wary of potential scams which can end up costing them money they can ill afford. Scottish Chambers of Commerce support moves to tackle these scams at both a national and European level, and anything which can be done to reduce the cost to business is very welcome."

European City Guides faxes companies requesting information on the business, however when the information is supplied they then invoice the companies for advertising services.

The Italian Fair Trade and Competition Authority, where ECG has also operated found that they were using deceptive contracts, however companies here are ending up in long and lengthy battles facing visits from debt collectors for money.