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Premium Recovery AG, a newly-formed Swiss company, have recently issued a mass-mailing to those who fell foul of the highly questionable marketing tactics of Barcelona-based European City Guide, Hamburg-based Tour and Travel Guide and the Austria-based Fair Guide.

Although they have no juristiction in the matter because the companies are based overseas, the UK Office of Fair Trading told the Antiques Trade Gazette that they are aware of the company and have suggested any complaints be sent to them for forwarding to the Swiss authorities.

Consumer groups estimate that in recent years the various guides have duped an estimated 100,000 companies in Europe.

Using names taken from the telephone and trade directories, companies such as the European City Guide sent forms to antiques dealers and auctioneers asking them simply to check the address on the form, complete it and return it in an enclosed envelope. Those who completed the forms were unaware that they were signing a contract to spend between £370 and £560 a year on a mere listing in the guide.
Following numerous complaints, European City Guide were fined the maximum €300,000 by the Spanish authorities in September and threatened with closure subject to appeal.

Premium Recovery AG was established in late November (with two websites launched at the beginning of January) and appears to have taken over the task of ‘debt’ collecting from another Swiss recovery business Ovag International. Letters recently mailed from the company threaten legal action should payments (including large interest and collection charges) not be received within two weeks.

However, the Gazette is yet to hear of one of the so-called guides for which Premium Recovery acts ever taking a creditor to court.