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The Office of Fair Trading had hoped that the €300,000 fine imposed by the local authorities on the Barcelona-based guide over their illegal activities, especially when they closed their offices there last summer, but the Swiss-owned outfit have simply moved to Valencia and started up again.

The latest scam came to light after the Guide started to target antiques dealers again. As before, members of the trade have received forms appearing to ask them to confirm their details for a free listing in the guide but actually attempting to con them into signing up for expensive, pointless and unwanted advertising.

Those who sign are then subjected to months – and sometimes years – of threats and demands for money.

The problem has been so bad that now there is even a website (stopecg.org) dedicated to stopping the scam and helping victims.

As advised on several occasions before in the Antiques Trade Gazette, anyone receiving one of the blue-edged European City Guide forms asking them for details should read the small print before filling these in or signing them.

The website advises that while the guide constantly threaten legal action against anyone who fails to pay the fees they demand, they have still never taken anyone to court for refusing to pay money on their disputed contracts. This concurs with the Antiques Trade Gazette’s own investigations into the scam.

“They probably never will as all their contracts have been ruled as deceptive and they stand little chance in a court of law. Their tactic remains one of threats and bluff, coercing the most vulnerable into paying,” say the campaigners.

The Antiques Trade Gazette has now forwarded examples of the latest forms to the OFT who have promised to look into the matter once again.

Anyone who has fallen victim to the guide since the operation moved to Valencia can complain to:

Dirección General de Comercio (Regional Government of Valencia)
Mr. Gregorio Lleó Alamá
C/ Colón, 32
46004 Valencia

Tel. 0034 96 3869608
Fax. 0034 96 3869642
E-mail: gregorio.lleo@industria.m400.gva.es

Please enclose copies of any forms or correspondence with the guide.