BUSINESSES are being warned to check the small print before agreeing to an apparently free directory or guidebook listing – they could be signing up for a bill of up to £1,000.

Companies have been receiving letters offering what appears to be a free listing on a CD, website or in a publication.

Some have been signing and returning the forms thinking they were simply approving or amending their entry but on closer inspection, the small print shows that instead the business has ordered an advertisement– costing up to £1,000.

Somerset County Council’s Group Manager for Trading Standards, Howard Burnett said: “Businesses do not have the same cooling-off period as consumers, so traders should be suspicious of any mailings and only sign if they fully understand the terms of the agreement.”

Timeshare or holiday points owners should watch out for unscrupulous companies claiming to buy or resell these products.

The scammers claim to have guaranteed buyers, or offer to buy timeshares or holiday points themselves, often at considerably more than their normal value.

They ask for large sums of money up front to secure a deal, often as a retainer, or for administration charges.

Then they disappear with the money, or say the buyer changed their mind but do not return the cash.

  • AS part of continuing efforts to improve community safety, reduce alcohol-related crimes and the sale of tobacco to under 18s, Somerset County Council’s Trading Standards service carries out test purchasing exercises.

Working in partnership with Avon and Somerset Constabulary, Trading Standards completed eight alcohol and one tobacco test purchase exercises using volunteers aged under 18.

In Taunton Deane, 10 attempted purchases were made with two purchases completed in Wellington – a failure rate of 20%. In West Somerset, 10 attempted purchases were made, all businesses complied with the law by refusing sales.

For more information or advice contact Consumer Direct on 08454-040506 or click on the Related Link on this page.