Three bosses at telesales business Berger & Co were disqualified from acting as directors after a Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) investigation found them responsible for flouting cold calling rules.
Staff at the firm, once the most complained about company in the UK, made more than 70,000 unsolicited calls a month offering management and human resources guidance reports. The DTI said although the company offered a ’21 day free review’ period, it was often not clear whether charges would follow once the trial period was over. Firms who failed to return the reports were hit with bills of up to £395. At its height, Berger & Co sent out 1,200 reports a week resulting in 796 complaints to Trading Standards between August 1999 and December 2000.
The DTI described the scheme run by director Filip Peter Lademacher as ‘devious and misleading.’ Lademacher and his colleagues Ian Armstrong and David Stirrat were disqualified from acting as company directors for a total of 25 years which investigators said should strike fear into firms running similar operations.
The DTI offered the following advice for businesses at the receiving end of cold callers:
Beware of calls made to junior staff who may be unaware they have agreed to place an order
Contact details should not be provided unless you know you want to do business with the company
Don’t agree to receive free products or services unless you are aware of the full terms and conditions If you do receive goods or services you have not requested, make sure you know the terms and conditions. If not, send them back immediately