An online business directory website run from Preston that used ‘bully-boy’ tactics on customers has been shut down.Advertisement
The OBD Ltd was wound up following a high court hearing in Manchester in late February.
District Judge Khan said the company should be wound-up in the public interest and it has been placed into liquidation.
Trading as a limited company from 2012 the OBD Ltd had 3,500 customers for its online directory and had turnover of £713,000 between February 2012 to April 2018.
It targeted small businesses for an online listing costing between £50 to £250-per-year.
Contracts for these listings were between one to two years in length and would then auto-renew unless cancelled by customers.
The Insolvency Service investigated the company after complaints from small firms that they were being pursued for money they did not owe.
An investigation concluded the company used ‘deceptive methods’ to persuade customers to sign up, by stating or implying that OBD Ltd was connected or represented international web browser giants like Google or Microsoft.
Contract documents were not provided to clients by OBD and used ‘ambigious contract terminology’ meaning it was difficult for customers to get out of rolling contracts.
A winding up order was applied for as the investigation showed OBD Ltd failed to provide services to customers when they were paid for in a timely manner – and some customers never received their online listing.
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OBD Ltd was registered to a premises at 5 East Cliff, off Winckley Square, and had directors listed as Craig Stuart Easton, 49, and one former director George Anthony Pennington, 32 who was with OBD between February 2012 and November 2013.
Chief investigator for the Insolvency Service Scott Crighton said: “Small businesses use online directories in the genuine hope that they will secure more work. However, OBD Ltd took advantage of their customers and often used bully-boy tactics to elicit money for inadequate services.
“We welcome the courts decision to shut down OBD Ltd, preventing anyone else coming to harm, and I would urge any business that is called out of the blue to sign-up for a similar service to do their homework before entering into any agreement.”
The investigation also found OBD Ltd failed to maintain adequate accounting records or file statutory documents.
The website www.theobd.co.uk is now offline.
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All public enquiries concerning the affairs of the company should be made to: The Official Receiver, Public Interest Unit, 2 Floor, 3 Piccadilly Place, London Road, Manchester, M1 3BN. Email: email@example.com