Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Construct Data (Fairguide) in full blown retreat

Construct Data (CD) who trade as Fairguide have profited for years from the mailing of misleading contracts. To spite rulings against them in individual states they have cynically exploited the loophole which makes it hard for law enforcers in individual countries to prevent cross border business to business scams. Now things are changing.

In February 2006 StopECG reported on a
court case in Austria where the Austrian Schutzverband gegen unlauteren Wettbewerb (Protective Association against Unfair Competition) were seeking not only to prevent Construct Data from mailing more contracts but also to prevent them from profiting from previously mailed contracts. CDs initial defense was that the Schutzverband represents Austrian commerce and could therefore not act on behalf of companies outside the country, the Schutzverband for their part argued that CDs activities were so damaging as to constitute a cause for concern to all Austrian businesses. They won this important argument and at this point CD settled out of court, essentially acceding to all the Schutzverband’s main demands.

See the Schutzverband website (In German)

CD have agreed not only to cease the mailing of misleading contracts to the EU, Switzerland and EWR (affiliate States of the EU like Liechtenstein) but also to cancel their demands for money against companies who dispute the contracts.

An out of court settlement avoids a definitive ruling on CDs tactics by an Austrian judge, however it would be hard for CD (who claim that their contracts are governed by Austrian law) to now pursue any so-called debt through the courts.

The wording of the settlement is such that CD has a loophole whereby if a company does not notify them that they signed the form in error, CD can technically continue to demand money.

StopECG therefore recommends that ALL companies who feel deceived by CD should write to them noting that they signed the form in error. There is no need to quote the settlement or stopECG, the simple act of notifying them should be enough to finish this for good

Proof of post is not proof of delivery! Send by registered mail to:

Construct Data Verlag AG,
Ortsstraße 54,
2331 Vösendorf,

CD has a number of emails. It may be best to send to

other possible addresses include
info@cdnet.at; info@fairguide.com; info@fair-guide.com

Fax to: +43 1 / 699 40 77 - 40

We will monitor closely CDs compliance with the settlement and update the
Construct Data Page on stopECG.org if needed. If you have notified CD that you signed in error and continue to recieve demands, please let me know

I cannot overstate the importance of this development, it is really important that everyone in dispute with CD is notified quickly. For that reason I ask that anyone with the time goes to CDs website
and contacts companies listed in their area, Use email or fax or post, and let them know that if they signed in error they must notify CD and that should be the end of the matter. You need only contact those companies that have a bold ‘Integrated website’ listing.

Finally, a brief note on the part that was decided in court, it appears that the judge accepted that to have a company like Construct Data trading from your country could be harmful to the national interest. Bravo! Let’s hope the authorities in other countries playing host to Ludenbach guides pay heed.

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Monday, February 05, 2007


Adverts that could be mistaken for invoices

Today I got the following Email, (Personal details removed)
I have today received a ‘renewal advice’ invoice for £84.99 + VAT from the Directory of Businesses: www.Directory-of-Businesses.com

The website gives the address as:

Directory of Businesses Ltd
45 -157 St John Street
London EC1V 4PY

There is no telephone number given.

The ‘renewal advice’ gets my business name completely wrong (details removed) and includes a box for the recipient to correct the entry.

It gives no useful information about the directory (how many copies are printed, who it goes to, when it was established…), or about the publishers or anything else.

I have never given any information to the publishers or previously ordered an entry in the directory, so this is certainly not a renewal.

The sender included a scan, again their personal info has been removed


The Attached form certainly seems misleading to me, the bold RENEWAL ADVICE at the top would suggest that the business already had a contractual agreement with the directory, a suggestion compounded by calling the document an invoice and by the provision of a Business ID and password.

The trouble with documents like this is that some firms have lax accounting, if an advert is mistakenly seen as an invoice it goes to accounts and gets paid, Unless all invoices are properly documented and authorised this can easily happen and many mailshots, particularly from overseas, seek to exploit this weakness.
Have you checked that this could never happen in your company?!

SERIOUSLY! Some years ago I investigated a misleading mailshot from the Czech Republic that masqueraded as an invoice for an existing listing in a directory and found that approx 1% of UK firms receiving the document were paying. Most of these were medium to large companies where the action of placing an order had become devolved from the process of payment. Those I phoned in my hometown were mostly too amorphous to even be bothered with an outside caller checking if their accounting procedures were allowing them to be scammed, however one haulage firm I contacted were very grateful, they had been paying the bogus invoices and were glad of the saving.

If your accounting is lax you are wide open to scams. In the 80s and 90s companies based abroad would simply invoice big firms for products they had never shipped. I would not be in the least bit surprised if such scams still exist.


Back to the Directory of Businesses Ltd.

The sender reported that an additional page sent with the form gave no information as to how many copies of the directory were distributed or usage of the website.
There was also no phone number, unusual for a company attempting to build a business relationship....

I tried to find out more.

According to Companies house there is a DIRECTORY OF BUSINESSES LIMITED

Registered address:
Company No. 04910912

Until the 9th May 2006 this company traded as

There the trail goes cold, there are no phone numbers or directory listings for either firm that I could find on the WWW.

A Whois reveals the domain name was registered by
Martin Bealey of Amersham, Bucks. Phone and email contacts are given but I did not attempt to contact him. Domain name registrants may play no part in a company, as the job is often undertaken by third parties.

Feel free to investigate this company yourself, please
send me the findings.


Good news for the recipient of this mailshot, the sender is in the UK so there are bodies that can act if they deem the advert misleading

First port of call is the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), a self regulatory body that polices the rules laid down in the advertising codes. The ASA is effective and does keep UK advertisers in line
File a complaint online with the ASA

Second, if you feel the advert is sufficiently misleading to be a criminal matter please contact your local trading standards office
They have the power to prosecute companies that deceive.
put your postcode in to find your local office. Alas you will need to take the time to file a complaint in person or by post.

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