TONY HETHERINGTON: Why pay to be listed in the UK business profile directory?
Tony Hetherington is the Financial Mail on Sunday’s investigator, battling readers’ corners, exposing the truth behind closed doors and winning victories for those who have been left behind. Find out how to contact him below.
HR writes: My wife and I run a small bed and breakfast in Devon, and we have been contacted by UK Business Profiles to list our website in their online database for searchers to find us.
To our knowledge, this was an annual contract, although we never received contract details. We were always contacted by phone to renew, and we tried to cancel that.
The company calls after having already charged our card. We paid last September but he charged us again in March and took another £479 in May.
Scam: Mr H was charged £479 to list his Devon B&B in the online database
Tony Hetherington replies: It’s easy for small businesses to get taken over by directory companies. When you looked at the ukbusinessprofiles.com website you saw listings of major companies including Royal Mail, Post Office and Costa Coffee, but the signs indicate that these were bait to trick you into taking you -even a list.
The post office told you they weren’t a customer of the company, and when you checked again, the big three names were gone from the website.
I asked UK Business Profiles to comment on what you told me, and a few days later the company itself called you to say there had been a “confusion”.
You previously had a different address and this may have resulted in charges for both. A refund has now been issued to your card.
But there are bigger issues here than a simple clerical error. The real name of the company behind the website is BHP Global Limited.
He uses two addresses, one in Wimbledon in South West London and the other in Blackburn in Lancashire. Both are owned by companies that receive mail for anyone who pays.
There was no real sign of the website and its bosses in London, but I tracked down director Daniel Heald in Blackburn where he lives, and his colleague Paul Brown is not far away in Clitheroe. I also traced the records of a few county court judgments against Heald, including one last year for £2,334.
I asked both men for comment, and in a statement from their company they told me: ‘We had some initial difficulty contacting Mr H after receiving a letter from him’ – not really an advertisement for their own directory service.
But that raises the very basic question of what their directory service could be for anyone. This might only be useful if the yearbook itself was widely advertised to the public, but when I asked this question Heald and Brown gave no answer.
So I took a test drive on their website. I looked for an electrician in Birmingham, Glasgow, Dundee or Cardiff. Back came the response: ‘There are no results for your search.’
How about plumbers in Cardiff, Newcastle, Exeter or Birmingham? Again, Heald and Brown have none. I even tried a cobbler in Manchester, Liverpool, Swansea or Edinburgh. Again, none.
Why should anyone be expected to pay hundreds of pounds for a listing in a directory that doesn’t tell the public it exists, and is so poor that they have no record of the services base in big cities? The answer, of course, is that no one should pay.
Why is my Amazon refund so slow?
TK writes: I needed to return two computers to Amazon and was told both would be picked up, which they were.
I was told my £480 refund was pending but a week later I was asked for the name of the driver who collected the computers.
Now I haven’t heard anything.
Missing money: TK still awaits refund from Amazon after returning two computers
Tony Hetherington replies: You had a real reason to return the computers. They had graphics that didn’t connect to your smart TV, nor would it upgrade to Windows 11. Amazon agreed with what you said and raised no issues with repossessing the computers.
I asked Amazon to look into what happened to your refund, and a few days later they told you it was on the way. But Amazon declined to say why you waited for months.
A spokesperson seemed to think I was some sort of debt collector. I asked several times if Amazon customers returning goods should ask the driver for ID.
Amazon refuses to say. Customers should be notified and perhaps take a photo of the driver or the van’s license plate.
Fears over friend’s £100,000 will
Ms SV writes: I’m concerned about the management of my friend Annie’s will.
She died in March 2020 and there was a down payment to the beneficiaries in March 2021, but nothing since, despite my writing to the notaries.
No answer: Mrs. SV worries about the management of her friend’s will
Tony Hetherington replies: You told me that shortly before she died your friend said she had almost £100,000.
His will provided for a bequest of £1,000, with the rest to be shared between you and three other beneficiaries.
Payments made in March last year by Brian Mackenow, Sunderland’s estate solicitor, were £41,000, and he told you he hoped to pay the rest a month later.
I asked Mackenow what was wrong. He told me that there was an error in the date of death listed in the probate grant, and that it needed to be corrected to satisfy NS&I.
He also blamed “an increase in work” and personnel problems. None of this seems to explain a delay of over a year, but I am happy to say that you have now received a check for £9,227 together with accounts showing the amount of the estate and how it was distributed.
We’re Watching You
Manager: James Scottney
A month ago we revealed that Town & Country Law Limited, which holds a license from the Financial Conduct Authority as a credit broker, is run by James Scotney, who has a class A drug trafficking criminal record .
And we reported that former company directors are awaiting trial on company-related fraud charges.
Now the Lincoln-based company, which also sells services such as drafting wills and other legal documents, has asked the FCA to withdraw its license.
A spokesperson for the regulator said: ‘The company has applied to have its authorization revoked. Once the cancellation process is complete, the company and Mr. Scotney will no longer be able to offer regulated financial services. We are still reviewing the circumstances surrounding the disclosure of Mr. Scotney’s conviction.
Candidates for FCA endorsement must declare any criminal convictions, and it is not clear whether Scotney, gone, concealed his criminal record or declared it, but was nevertheless allowed to be the sole manager of Town & Country Law.
The FCA could also investigate suggestions that, although Scotney is the company’s only named boss, there could also be a shadow director who is not approved by the regulator.
If you believe you have been the victim of financial wrongdoing, write to Tony Hetherington at the Financial Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS or email [email protected] Due to the high volume of inquiries, no personal response can be given. Please only send copies of the original documents, which we regret cannot return.
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