Waterford businesses have received a fresh warning regarding the European City Guide (ECG) and similar marketing publications which ‘seduce’ companies into buying advertising space for a lot more than they initially bargained for.

Waterford Chamber and the South-Eastern Enterprise Europe Network have advised firms not to sign any material delivered to it from the ECG or similar companies.

Targeting businesses via ‘snail mail’, the ECG gives the impression to prospective advertisers that ad space in its pages is free – but the devil is well and truly in the small print.

Anyone who doesn’t read this hardly obvious text and decides to sign up runs the risk of having to pay €1,000 a year for three years to the ECG. The ECG’s less than mannerly business methods have also been highlighted on local and national radio in recent years.

“This directory has has been the cause of significant financial and emotional distress to businesses and citizens throughout Ireland and there have been many cases documented in the south east in recent months and years,” according to Waterford Chamber’s Carol Breen.

“The problem with this directory centres on the use of a misleading form which asks receivers to ‘update their data for free’ for inclusion in the ECG Directory.

“However the small type at the bottom of the document includes a contract for insertion of the data in the directory for a three-year period for a fee. Whilst the contract is legal in so far as the conditions are mentioned, the wording used and the layout of the form are very misleading.”

Ms Breen said that both Chamber and the Enterprise Network has urged “businesses

not to sign anything they feel might be questionable and to contact the Advertising Standards Authority if they receive such a mailing”.

Managers, she noted, should make sure that all staff members are aware of such marketing scams and not to return the form “as a matter of course as this has been the case for many companies”.

Meanwhile, leading local business figures recently met at Waterford Castle where the Marketing Institute of Ireland’s (MII) regional programme of events for the coming year was launched.

South East MII Chairperson Deirdre Houlihan informed the gathering of her plans to encourage new members to join and to bring a ‘networking’ feel to the events planned over the coming year, which includes a gala ball and guest speaker events.

“I am delighted with the support I have received in my new role and looks forward to meeting many business peers over the coming year,” said Ms Houlihan, one of the city and county’s most popular business figures.