Tuesday, June 17, 2008
An Open Letter to the owners of Expo-Guide
Having studied the forms currently being mailed by expo-guide and done comparisons with the forms formerly mailed by Construct Data Verlag (CDV) I have come to the conclusion that it is almost impossible that your forms were contrived without reference to Construct Data’s mailings
I fully accept that you may have accepted the design in complete innocence, that they it have been presented to you by a third party, and that as such this letter may represent your first warning of the problems these forms can cause.
A little history
CDVs forms were widely criticised, for over a decade the company profited from the fact that people would sign the forms in error, mistaking them for a communication from an exhibition organiser. CDV suffered numerous adverse rulings, both legal and from self regulatory organisations. When faced with such rulings they would amend the form slightly, but the aspects of the form which mislead were always maintained.
In early 2007 after a prolonged legal tussle with the Schutzverband gegen unlauteren Wettbewerb CDV found it necessary to modify their forms once again and the latest layout, (the layout to which expo-guides forms correspond) was conceived. I was in no doubt that the new form would mislead and I published an open letter to Wolfgang Valvoda, CEO of CDV telling him of my concerns and offering to assist in the design of a form that would not mislead
The letter went unanswered and the forms were indeed signed in error, in very large numbers. In November 2007 I was forced to publish a second open letter in which I concluded that Mr Valvoda was either remarkably inept or had set out with the intent to decieve, again he chose not to respond. Eventually the Schutzverband gegen unlauteren Wettbewerb forced deeper concessions from CDV who are now barred from mailing new forms from Austria.
Because CDV made concessions out of court the forms were never subjected to detailed scrutiny by a judge, which does not mean that they are legal!
The Forms you are mailing
So there you have it, expo-guide are in the position CDV found themselves in back in April 2007, you are mailing a form that I predict will be signed in error, you can fully expect that many who sign the new form will refuse to pay you.
You have clearly invested considerable money in this new project, with phone lines in six countries and a substantial website at http://www.expo-guide.com but your business model could be fatally flawed if you persist with the forms you are mailing at present.
Another Free offer
So once again I am willing to offer my time and experience to help your company design a form that cannot mislead, this offer comes with two provisos:
- I would expect you to accept that your initial mailshots were a mistake, and where people state that they signed in error you should offer them the opportunity to rescind the contract.
- That in accepting a new design you take it in its entirety and do not modify it or alter the meaning when translating into other languages
Should Expo-guide continue to mail the misleading forms and/or demand money from those who have signed in error it will be hard not to conclude that it is your intent to mislead people. In that instance stopECG will campaign against you with the same zeal CDV experienced.
Should you wish to reply to any part of this letter, please let me know, your reply will be published here for all readers to see.
Jules Woodell - 16th June 2008
See StopECGs Advice page regarding expo-guide
I have signed by mistake a "contract" by "expo-Guide" I am trying to access your advice webpage but for some reason it does not come up ("The page you are looking for is currently unavailable"). I am very angry and would really like to read how I get out of it, if you can tell me how to access the page or what to do, I would very much appreciate.
I just received an Invoice for $1571.00 for a listing that I did not knowingly authorize.
In June I was sent a form to "confirm tthe accuracy of my details". It stated on the form that it was "only for your correct listing" and that "my entry has been published to date for free". Assuming that this was to continue to be free, I corrected my email address and mailed it back.
The very misleading extra small type at the very bottom of the form which I did not notice, now that I reread it, mentions a fee of $1571 for this "free" entry.
This "detail form" was very misleading, and I demanded them to cancel this insertion.
I also downloaded, filled out the complaint form from your site and will mail it off today.
Please keep me informed of anyone else who has this same problem and of anything else i should do.
Thank you so much.
I have also signed that contract by mistake and been trying to cancel it ,but it seems to be mission impossible.
I have try to make contact by calling all the specified phone No.s in form but no one answer.
Only contact I have made is through sending fax on no.: 00525510842628 and as many time as I have asked no one ever indentefy itself and I was given no other contact.
No need to mention thet lately they stoped to answer on that fax too.
If someone has any clue how to cancel this or any sugestion what to do please advise.
Thank you very much for your initiative.
I have signed by mistake a cheat "contract" by "expo-Guide".
I received an invoices and didn't paid. I wrote a letter to ask why and to tell it was an error. But they just replly me by an other invoice. I asked to call me at the office but they never call me back. What the fuck is it? What i can do it? Help!
Thank! Sébastien B.
Please let me know of your own progress in this matter!
Berliner Volksbank EG, Germany
IBAN: DE36 1009 0000 2080 3580 00
Account number : 2080358000
Bank code : 10090000
I warmly recommand all readers of this site as first step NOT TO PAY A PENNY, since you have been misled by the fraudulent hidden offer at the bottom of the form where nobody would expect it. It is true by paying the claimend amount you confirm the commercial offer of which you were not aware when signing the form for the free listing, which would not necessitate any signature. Be tough and resist in declaring void and null the contract because you signed in obvious error. This new bogus Expo-Guide CM located in Mexico, is obviously a protube of Contruct Data Verlad in order to avoild the regulations imposed by the Ministry of Commerce and the Associations for Fair Trading in Austria. I'm sure that the competent Authorities will be informed by thousand of complaints sent to them in the very near future so that none of the conned persons will be brought to court not in Mexiko neither in Austria. You may sleep in heaven because they won't dare to bring any of these fraudulent cases to court, since they are more feared to be condemned by the judge.
I trust, my advice will help to get your confidence again in this sad event.
Yours Barbara M.
I really would like to know if some of you had a positive result and how you get it.
I too signed the "listing " under the impression it was to correct free advertisement in the Magic Las Vegas event.
Their email address firstname.lastname@example.org can get a reply in english. Another form was just sent after I cancelled the contract 6 months ago. Even though they refuse to cancel. I don't think they stand a chance in court should it ever get to that point. Doubtful the cheaters would expose themselves in court. Dont pay it.
Thanks for the blog and the info.
I have made that mistake too.
Now I received a letter from their legal department urging me to make the payment to aviod a court recovery procedure
I would appreciate it very much if you know a way out of it
As a company we will vigorously contest the invoice.
We have issued the following email to Expo Guide today:
To whom it may concern,
Please accept this email as formal notification that we wish all references to our company to be removed from the Expo-Guide web site with immediate effect.
Your web site is not approved by the exhibition organisers and contrary to any paperwork you have in your possession, this "advertisement" has not been approved for publication on the above named site.
We will monitor the site and if our company reference is not removed from the site in the next ten days, we intend to take the matter to the Office of Fair Trading.
If that does not have the desired effect, we will initiate legal proceedings for unauthorised use of our copyright material.
Under no circumstances will this pathetic bunch of scammers be paid.
I have been a victim of expo-guide too. They are sending letter of supposed over due payments. I did not pay and will not pay. I tried many times to call, but nobody answers the phone (in any country) and sent many emails too. Please keep this post alive with anything that would help all of us in the same situation.
Although I informed them that it was an error to sign their form, they still send invoices and reminders. Their last due overpayment reminder is a threat to the next step : the legal steps. I wonder their invoice form is in a proper form or not, since they still insist that it's electronically produced, then no signature follows. I don't think it's a logical way for an invoice.There is only a signaturre of someone called Alejandro Esteban inviting free listing in the company Expo Guide S de RL de SV, but the invoice they sent with the words Expo Guide asking to pay to Commercial Online Manuals S de RL de CV. I don't see any relation between the letter signed by AE and the invoice, they had prepared a loophole to escape from justice, if any claim from 'their victims' or StopECG for ex. Can anybody tell me about my thinking. Thanks. In the meantime they still send another form inviting me to 'confirm the accuracy of my details', it's very ridiculous. In one hand, they send invoices for the forms being signed by mistake, in the other hand they still send forms for us to trap in again. This time, I look carefully at the enveloppe, it came from Box 55 935, 102 16 Stockholm, it's very strange. This scam involves many countries in it : Mexico, Germany, and then now Mail World Box nummer 55 935, right in Sweden.
Can somebody tell me how to react with the new forms they send again for news traps. It's a very bad feeling to hear the words Expo Guide, exhibitions, fairs and to see the orange and pink color of the words Expo Guide on the enveloppes containing their so called invoices.
Thank you for the blog.
The 2 new forms they have sent to invite me to their 'free listings' are from the new one 'Expo Guide S de RL de CV with VAT number EGU0705223M8', but remained their logo 'Expo Guide'.
When I make the search on Google, I found that all these information about that 'Expo-Guide' are mixed on their own website, new name and old tax number, the same address, ...
Can anyone tell me what tricks they are going to do. One of the option is : they can not retrieve money from their own victims, so they skip to another legal name before the number of these victims is under the thresh line to be claimed by StopECG.
Or they cannot pay tax for the old tax number and skip to the new one.
Here are the links that I've found VAT number RFC:IAC070522AM6, http://www.expo-guide.com/iws/home/language/en/COM-MEXICO/147215 (english)
VAT number EGU0705223M8
I provide these information to StopECG for you to tell me what they are doing with thir two companies names with the same logo 'Expo-Guide'. What law can stop these people to cheat others like the way they do? Can anyone tell me, thanks so much.
But I don't pay and will not pay.
Thank you Barbara and Andre, thank you for the blog.
I made similar mistake long time ago (in 2002) by signing Fair Guide contract.
Long story short- don't pay anything to them and don't care about their treats.
In my case silence came after their last treat when they said that "OK, if you'll refuse to pay, we'll put you into court". Didn't hear anything since then. I'm sure, that's the point where they'll stop.
I would say- don't reply to their mails, don't speak to them by phone- it's useless, they are not going to discuss anything, all what they want is- money.
I am from India and we are also suffering from the same and till date we received 2 letters from their legal department Demanding for the Money.
Please inform me how to resolve the issue.
in by this group of hustlers. I will ignore their bills
and threats. They can take me to court where they
will lose, I guarantee it.
I am also a victim of signing the contract by mistake thinking that they only want to verify that the data entry is correct.
Last Friday I received an invoice asking for payment of Euro1,180 which shocked me to the core enclosing a photo-copy of my contract. That was where I read the small details. I was so disgusted with myself and also discovering that it would be Euro1,180 per year for three years. It is just crazy and absurd.
Who in their right mind would do such a thing? I googled after feeling anxious with worry wondering if anyone knows about Expo-Guide. To my amazement and horror it turns out to be a scam! I am furious and obviously sickened wondering what's going to happen next.
I send an email asking for my details to be removed last Friday evening. Heard nothing back. Send another email of same on Monday just gone. Heard nothing back. Then received an email back today advising that they have received my email last Friday and advised that I should have cancelled in writing within 10 days after sending off the contract in writing by registered post. Obviously it is too late for me now.
I am not happy, am furious to the extend that I have never heard of a company asking for the huge amount of money for just a measly data input. In fact when I received the invoice along with a letter they advised me that I could see my data info online. I checked but error page came up. Now that I received an email from them does it work! What a coincidence.
I wonder as per stopecg.org should I be writing complaints to various organisations? I am currently away at the moment and do not want to go back home and sort all this out. I am just a bit anxious as the payment is due 25th July 2009.
I appreciate your help. Thanks a mill from a Dubliner
I have also been duped into thinking this Free entry is FREE when I signed it in error realising that the fee is huge (Euro 1,180) I send email twice asking for details to be removed....a reply came advising I am too late to cancel as per contract states I should cancel within 10 days of signing the contract! I only received the invoice one month later...how was I supposed to know this would cause such rediculous uproar!
I am better off to ignore them even if I am supposed to pay up soon.
Have written to fair trade about this and havent heard anything back as yet.
When I received the invoice I checked the webpage that I can check to see what it is like. But there was no page. I demanded they remove my details and cancel the contract. Received a response back advising I was too late to cancel. There was no way would I have known about the huge fee involved (only written in tiny letters above the signature) that would give me the chance to cancel the contract.
First of all I posted the form using the FREEPOST envelope (I believe it was Austria although I found another one for France which I have here) I believe end of May , the form was received on 15th June 2009, the invoice was dated 25th June 2009 and I received the invoice on Thursday 9th July...how in the name of God could I have the opportunity to cancel the contract when they deliberately took so long to inform me of the costs involved.
I emailed the complaint form as per stopecg.org yesterday and hope this is not going to be the start of a nasty demand and phone calls from them.
LETS BEAT THEM. WE WILL NOT PAY
Anyone going through this situation I will be most grateful for any updates as I would do same.
Thanks to the builders of this blog and everuçyone who offered advice. On my part I am asking for privet legal advioce befor doing anything. I am still waiting for the lawyers I contacted to tell me what to do. It seems the way to go is just throw their letters away without even opening them. Adrian from Argentina
i have also faced the same problem. we signed in error not seeing the fine print and believing that this is a free listing update and now we are getting reminders and legal notices for payment. kindly advise what should we do.
I have also done that big mistake so sign this "order", on the same manner ass all of you.
2 months later I recived the invoice and I was of cource chocked!
I e-mailed them and told them that it all was a mistake, and that I don´t want any services from them an told them to remove me from their lists.
Then I get a reminder whith the same sum 1.180 EURO!!!!
Then I´get a letter from them - the told me that removing me from that order was not possible, I should have done that during 10 days after signing!!!!
How could I, when I realized the fact when I get the invoice after ca 2 months!!!
I have contacted the Swedish Trade Federation, the told me to sent the order back and make a line over all and write: " Reject payment due to misleading information"
"Swedish Trade Federation has been contacted". "Complaint will be filed with the police".
And I´m going to contact the police here and I´ve saved all letters from them.
Those gangsters most be stopped!
Since 07/08 they have been 'Threating me with legal action' But nothing has happened. Today just got a letter that they renewed my contract, even though I have sent emails and made phone calls for them to stop.
Today 08/03/09 i recieved my Update bill where my contact was renewed, so now its up to 4k something.
So I started a case with the Consumer trade commission. They lady on the phone, who was really nice, said to just ignore them. There is nothing they can do in Mexico against you.
She gave me the phone number to the Attorney Gen. here in my home state, and they said the same thing to just ignore them.
It would be really nice to just stop them from coming. But if all I have to do is ignore them, and laugh I guess I will do that too..
If anyone has ever gotten anywhere to stopping them Please contact me at the email above :) If not I will just keep shredding
I've just been reading all of your comments and a) I'm so glad it wasn't just me duped into signing the scam form and b) that you're all refusing to pay! Please, please continue to do so!
Since i received my first invoice a few months ago, I immediately sent a cancellation letter as per the Stop ECG website and received similar replies to all of you.. I wrote a further letter crafted by a lawyer and they still refused to budge. I wrote one last letter to state my position which was that I refuse to pay for such a ridiculous scam (I'm not even sure what the service is that they're offering?!).
Their latest correspondence has threatened legal action if I don't pay up within 14 days (which i'm obviously not going to do)so i'm very interested to see what they do next - and I will let you know but PLEASE KEEP THE UPDATES COMING!
I've informed Trading Standards in the UK and they are ready to help should this come to the UK..... The very worst they can do here is take their 'grievance' to a small claims court and I think with all the evidence, blogs, past precedents (Fairguide)etc it will be laughed out.
My advice is to get in touch with your country's Trading Standards or Fair Trade organisation and make them aware. Also, contact the media - I'm aware that at least one UK paper published the case with Fairguide before it went to court.
The more we can expose them now, the sooner this sorry mess can be stopped.
I'm so pleased there are others out there that have been suckered into this scam. I too attempted to cancel the order stating it was a misunderstanding that I thought I was simply updating my free listing and to delete my entry completely, that I know longer want to be part of their guide. When I first received the Invoice I felt really desperate and with further investigation finding it is a Scam I feel very angry I lost sleep over it!!! I will contact the Mexico Authorities as suggested by Stopecg. One thing is for certain I WILL NOT PAY!
If I receive any advice that will be of interest to all on the Blog I WILL LET YOU KNOW!
Thanks to you all, the blog is interesting and reassuring reading. JB xx
I have made the same mistake as you all I think if anyone gets to the stage of being sued we should all stand together as a group to defend our case against this outrageous fraud they are threatening me for non payment in the same week this demand arrived a further two forms also arrived in the name of two other products we have. Surely the show organisers can lend a hand in stopping these pirates getting our contact details in the first place.
Big thank you for having this web site it helps to know you are not alone.
Now I have recieved my 3rd reminder from Expo-Guide!
And I´m not paying - I never will!
Is it anyone of you who had stoped them? Please tell us how!
I have only sent them one letter after I´ve recieved my first invoice, then I have sent the "contract" back and so on....as I told you in my earlier comment!
Thank´s for this blog!
Since the error was caused by you and was material in leading to conclusion of the contract, we contest the validity of the contract – in so far as a contract indeed ever came into being, which we would also dispute – on the basis of error
Having sought legal advice, I have been informed that the form which I completed was a misrepresentation and therefore the contract is not enforceable in a UK court of law.
With this advice in mind, please accept this letter as formal notification that we wish all references to our company to be removed from the Expo-Guide web site with immediate effect”.
I followed this up with an email, after speaking to the police and Consumer Direct with,
"To whom it may concern
Further to the emails below from the UK Economic Crime Unit (which was followed up by a call from one of their officers who was aware of your company's history and has referred this to our local member of European Parliament)
and the previous email (also below) from the police informing me that the case was being referred to the “High Tech Crime team”.
Please find attached letter, which has been sent to you by "recorded" mail, I will not be paying the attached invoice. If you wish to take our company to court in the UK, please supply the name and address of the court and the day and time of the hearing, allowing 3 months for our legal team to prepare the case (as is the custom in the UK).
I have involved the following regarding Expo-Guide
Devon & Cornwall Police
Police (High Tech Crime team – Economic Crime Unit)
Giles Chichester, Member of European Parliament
International Office of Fair Trading, London
Procuraduría Federal del Consumidor, Dirección General de Quejas y Conciliación, Mexico
Ambassador, Mexican Embassy
Ambassador, Slovakian Embassy
The police have told me in future to return all mail to you marked “'unsolicited mail'.
Remove all references to our company from the Expo-Guide web site with immediate effect".
It would be good if everyone complained to the police, trading stndards, embassy, etc.
Good luck, Mags
I, like all of you are in the same situation. At first I was really scared and ashamed. Now, after reading SO MUCH about this scam on websites, blogs, and social networking sites, I am just infuriated and motivated to take them down!
Here are some things I have done, and maybe if you all do the same things we can stop their madness!
www.expo-guide.com is hosted by Network Solutions. Please write NS and ask them to investigate their website which is simply a cover-up for their money making scheme. They are also violating copyright laws by posting company information and logos without explicit approval. Please email email@example.com.
Go to www.econsumer.gov and file an online complaint. Although mostly for personal complaints, they are still an international watchdog and I am sure if enough complaints come in, they will follow it up.
Send a story lead to CNN International, just go to http://www.cnn.com/feedback/cnni/ and fill out a short form about this scam.
I refuse to answer any of their communications and will of course NOT pay them a single cent.
Thank you to whomever started the StopECG website and blogs. We will get them.
Today 22nd oct I recieved a "final overdue payment reminder" and the want me to pay 12 oct!!!!
I allways get thouse reminders too late!!
They tell me that after 14 days they will take legal steps?!
Is it anyone here having an experience of thouse "legal steps" or should I just ignore them as I havé done until now?
What can they do?!
Please answer anyone who know something!
We will not be paying anything or responding to any of their invoices or reminders. I did write to them to point out that the contract was not valid for the various reasons we all know about. Imagine my surprise when I received a reply through the post, attempting to justify the contract and its validity! Very funny!
I also wrote to the London Office of Fair Trading, who although they are unable to take any direct action, do like to know about things like this.
I am very sorry when reading these comments to see how worried people are, and the amount of time and energy they are spending in emailing and faxing these worms, not to mention incurring legal costs, and if I could advise anything, it would be to keep your nerve and do not respond to these people - they are not worth your energy.
It may interest you to know that two years ago another of our companies was caught out, this time by Euro Business Guide, signed for by one of our directors. I have not paid them a penny, and simply "file" their now annual demands for payment, now being sent by Waldberg and Hirsch Global Collections Ltd of Amsterdam. I won't be covering their legal costs!
I would join those above who thank the authors of stopecg for the really valuable practical advice, and the wealth of background information, updates on action taken, and publications it contains, and especially the opportunity for people in the same boat to share experiences and gain support from each other.
Kindest Regards, Carrie
I was quite anxious 30 minutes ago when I have received the scam letter from these gangsters.
Thanks to your blog,and all the comment posters... I already came to the stage of entertainment and of course will not even bother to respond or try to contact them,
Obviously,if even they receive payments from 1% of the companies that they have tricked they make a living since they keep this organization working...
I wish them all the worst,
I have read many blogs about this scam, the advice is that don't answer to their letter, their call and ignore their threat. They will call to threat us everyday until they can contact us by phone to record the conversation. Be careful with the conversation on the phone. Every thing can be happened like the small prints in their return contract to us to ask for money.
We also signed by mistake a letter from expo guide.And we also got this warning but now a phone ringed and some guy from FOBBLE International Credit Management called for "Out of court agreement" !!!
What we should do now!
We will not pay this is sure but waht and how to say to this guy to not to get in trouble??
Send them a very brief letter saying that you have taken legal advice, realise that they are operating a scam, and will refuse to answer further letters or take phone calls from Euro Guide or anyone employed on their behalf. Stick to this, and do not get into correspondence with them once you have sent this letter. Ignore all future letters and on no account make any deals to pay part of the money. Their purpose is to frighten you into paying, but there is no legitimate action that they can take without exposing themselves.
I hope this information is helpful.
But i would like to know what should we say during their calls ?
Should we contact the Fraud crackdown ?
Not pay...be strong!
This morning I received a reminder for the seconmd year payment from Expo Guide. It's sure that I won't pay them.
Just to update their changing return address from Mexico to Emigsville Pennsylvania USA.
The Orange Expo guide logo is covered by a blank sheet, with the return box address on it. This time it is :
PO Box 466
Emigsville PA 17318
And the stamp is :
US Postage Paid
and by side of the stamp there is some barcode.
And they move their money collecting bank to Italy.
I didn't see any event with arrived to the court.
Has anyone gone to the court?
Few months back I was sent a form to "confirm tthe accuracy of my details". It stated on the form that it was "only for your correct listing" and that "my entry has been published to date for free". Assuming that this was to continue to be free, I corrected my email address and mailed it back.
The very misleading extra small type at the very bottom of the form which I did not notice, now that I reread it, mentions a fee of $1571 for this "free" entry.
This "detail form" was very misleading.
Please keep me informed of anyone else who has this same problem and of anything else i should do.
I have also signed by mistake a cotnarct by "Expo-guide" in June 2008. I sent registered mail, e-mails and fax many times but they ignored and keep sending me invoices and a letter from Legal Document recently.
A couple of days ago, I was contacted by their agent called Damian Moldovan of "Intenational Credit Assessment Agency" by fax. I stupidly e-mailed him back and just promised him to pay 500 Euro.
(They gave me a discount)
But Now, I found this site, reading comments from all the victims and decided not to pay a penny. I will ignore their invoices and e-mails.
i also had signed the form in error assuming it was a free entry and after receiving many reminders i mailed and faxed them letters that they need to cancel the whole thing and since it was completely misleading, we wo'nt pay. now i have received a call from someone claiming from ICAA stating that they will take us to court and sue us for the charges.
pl. advise what do we need to do in this regard.
Expo-Guide send a mail and very fraudlently disguised themselves as a trade fair company, wanting to update my business records with them, and just like everybody else for no charge. The records they had were wrong, so I corrected them and send them back. The next thing I know is that I received their invoice for 1571 USD, later with invoices with interest payments and lastly legal notices.
I kept on ignoring them as they appeared to a scam company who misinformed people & fraudlently used co-ercive tactics to get money from them. They are a shame!