Alderleys Limited, a company claiming to sell business-to-business advertising in an online directory and safety and emergency services booklets has been wound-up in the public interest by the High Court in Manchester following an investigation by Company Investigations of the Insolvency Service.
The company, was based in Leamington Spa and operated a business of the type that has become known as "support publishing". In this case, the company cold-called businesses to sell advertising space in safety and emergency services booklets as well as an online directory. The company received in excess of £290,000 between December 2009 and September 2010.
The investigation found no evidence that the booklets were ever produced or that the website existed.
In addition, representatives of the company used a method of operation which was designed to mislead and/or was very likely to mislead the individuals and/or organisations it contacted. For example, the contact would be led to believe that they were confirming the details of an existing advertisement they had already placed with another organisation rather than contracting to place an additional advertisement with Alderleys and for which Alderleys would raise an invoice.
When any contact subsequently sought to challenge Alderleys' invoice, an edited (and misleading) recording of the telephone call would be played to the contact to seek to mislead them into believing that a contract had been agreed to and that the invoice was therefore due and payable.
In the event of non-payment, Alderleys would use misleading techniques to pressurise "customers" to make payments including the threat of court proceedings.
In addition, the investigation found that the company kept inadequate accounting records as a result of which investigators were unable to properly establish Alderleys' trading position.
Alex Deane from Company Investigations in Manchester said:
"Alderleys dishonestly promoted itself as something it was not, selling advertising space which, if it existed at all, could not benefit the clients in any way. People responsible for such companies should be aware that The Insolvency Service will pursue these companies, take steps to close them down and pursue further action against them wherever possible"