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If you’re a business in Argyll approached by phone by a company you’ve never heard of, offering to see you advertising in publications supporting schools, emergency services and charities – you’ve probably been selected for a scam. They may even claim you already have a contract with them and are in default. Their behaviour can be quite threatening so read the advice below.
Argyll and Bute Council’s Trading Standards Officers are warning businesses in the area to be extremely cautious if they are approached by unknown companies in these circumstances.
Over the last few weeks Trading Standards has received numerous complaints from businesses, particularly in the Oban area. They have been called by a company alleging to sell adverts for this sort of publication.
Because of this, the Council has now produced a telesales checklist for you to put to any such caller. It is available on request through your local Trading Standards Officer. Unless you receive satisfactory responses to the questions on this list, you should exercise extreme caution about supporting such publications.
The complaints received relate to the following practices:
- Telephone calls claiming an existing agreement to support the publication when there is no such agreement.
- Sending demands for payment when no agreement to support the publication has been made.
- Sending demands for payment when a prospective advertiser has only asked for written information about the publication.
- Telesales staff making false or misleading statements about the publication.
- Failing to give to the prospective advertiser a solicitation statement in respect of publications produced for charities. (The Charities Act and Regulations requires prospective donors to be given information about the proportion of their donation which will be used for charitable purposes. This information must be given every time a solicitation – whether verbal or written – is made).
- Using debt collection agencies or making threats of court action where the contract between the business and the publisher is disputed.
- The tape recording of telephone conversations by the publisher without the agreement of the business.
Employers and employees should be aware that an agreement to place an advertisement – even when made by telephone – can be a legally binding contract and in most cases you are not entitled to a cancellation period after making such an agreement.
Instead, people are urged to be extremely careful and to consider making donations directly to the charity of their choice instead.
If you have been contacted by a company as described above and you are adamant that no contract is in existence, or that misrepresentation has taken place, you should write to the company and ask them to produce evidence of the existence of a contract.
Under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 it is unlawful to make unsolicited direct marketing calls to individuals who have indicated that they do not wish to receive such calls.
To limit further unsolicited approaches by telephone you can register online with the Telephone Preference Service (for sole traders and partnerships) or the Corporate Preference Service (for Limited companies) at www.tpsonline.org.uk or by telephoning on 0845 070 0707.