Go-rise Ltd, a Blackburn-based company which made false and misleading statements to induce businesses to pay for a listing in its online business directory has been wound up in the High Court.

The winding up of the company follows an investigation by the Insolvency Service.
Go-Rise cold-called prospective customers and offered a service promoting their businesses in an online directory. The company also claimed it would use keywords to improve the customer?s Google ranking.

The investigation found that the company?s telesales staff made false and misleading claims when selling the company?s services including that they were calling from or on behalf of Google and that contracts between the company and customers were due for renewal when no such contracts had been entered into.

In contrast to the representations made to customers during the telesales call the company took no steps to submit keywords to Google Adwords to improve the ranking of customers. In addition, the company?s website - on which the business directory was sited - was password protected for significant periods meaning that it could not be accessed by general web users.

Commenting on the case, Colin Cronin, Investigation Supervisor with the Insolvency Service, said,

The online business directory service sold by Go-Rise Ltd provided no commercial benefit whatsoever to the company?s customers because the directory could not be accessed by the public due to it being password protected. Neither did the company make any arrangements with Google Adwords to provide keywords in order to promote the businesses of its customers. The company obtained payments from customers when it had no apparent intention of providing the services promised to them.

We have now investigated a number of such companies and what they have in common is offering a directory listing which is of no use to the customer because it is not promoted and is often password protected, thereby completely defeating its purpose.
What is more disturbing is that many of the customers who have purchased such directory listings are subsequently contacted ? perhaps months or even years later - by bogus Court officials claiming that the customer is liable for a debt arising from the directory listing and that bailiffs will attend imminently at the customer?s trading premises to seize possessions to the value of the debt. Customers are thus coerced into making further payment for a fictitious debt.

I would therefore urge any business which is contacted by cold-call and asked to purchase an online directory listing to make full enquiries into the service being offered before entering into any agreement.