Two London printers have been shut down by the courts for failing to complete contracts despite receiving advanced payments.
High Quality Books Ltd, formerly known as Printed Books Limited, and We Print Books Ltd, formerly known as Offset Printers Limited, were wound up in the public interest in the Manchester District Registry on 18 October 2018. The Official Receiver has now been appointed as the Liquidator.
The two London-based publishers operated numerous websites offering printing services, specialising in small print runs. One of their key targets were self-publishers, who were attracted to the competitive rates.
However, the Insolvency Service received complaints about the printers and following enquiries, found evidence of wrongdoing.
Investigators found that after an order was placed, the printers demanded advanced payment of at least 50% before the job started. The companies would then claim they completed the jobs in-house but investigators found that no printing facilities were either owned or operated by them.
Instead, the print jobs were sub-contracted and mainly to suppliers in Eastern Europe who were not always paid and often failed to dispatch the work as a result.
When customers did complain to the printers they were referred to the companies? Terms & Conditions. However, some customers claimed they had never seen these before and the T&Cs were heavily biased towards the companies.
Where complaints were accepted, refunds were often sporadic and did not cover the full amount. Investigators only found one example where a full refund was made.
Investigators also found that on many occasions, customers would initially start to contract with one company before receiving responses from the other, confusing customers as to who they were dealing with.
The Insolvency Service was unable at any point to determine the full extent of the printers? trading activities as the companies failed to fully co-operate throughout the investigation. The names of the printers were also changed to High Quality Books Ltd and We Print Books Ltd respectively just two days before the courts shut them down.
District Judge Khan found in his judgement that both companies had traded with a lack of transparency, as well as a lack of commercial probity in that they made misrepresentations to customers, failed to handle customer data appropriately and failed to maintain and/or deliver up accounting records or co-operate with investigators.
Irshard Mohammed, Chief Investigator for the Insolvency Service, said:
Through the courts, thankfully we have been able to put a stop to these rogue printers.
They used deceitful tactics to attract customers, demanded up-front payments and when customers complained having failed to receive their orders, the printers either blamed the customer or hid behind their Terms & Conditions.
These winding-up proceedings should serve as a clear warning to dishonest companies that we will use the full weight of our powers and shut down businesses that operate unscrupulously.