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Dispute with Publishing Company

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I have a hobby which I thought I might try to make some money from at weekends etc. 

To help find my first clients I held a small stall at a conference related to the area that my hobby is in.


4 Oct: while holding the stall I was approached by a sales person representing a publishing company for a national magazine.  I was very clear to them that I was just a sole trader and didn't have thousands of pounds to spend on marketing and that I don't do a lot digitally.  The representative told me not to worry and we discussed what I believed was advertising space in the magazine suitable for someone in my position. During the conversation the only amount mentioned to me was £499 and I signed a booking form for what I thought was for £499 for advertising space.


Next Few Weeks In Oct: over the next couple of weeks I had several phone calls with the company who started asking me for digital content that I didn't have but I also couldn't provide.  They have been asking me for what sounds like a written article (I have never written an article) and other items such as company logo, banners, artwork and supporting photos. I have been struggling to provide this content to them and to date have not provided anything to them. To my knowledge nothing has been published.


Nov / Dec: during November I moved house and had a role in the general election in December, I was also made redundant in December meaning that I completely forgot about this advertising stuff.  The phone calls also stopped.


16 Jan: I received an e-mail from the publishing company stating that my account was £2760 overdue and that if there was no response in 5 days they will refer it to a third party debt collector. At first I thought this was a fraud attempt but checked out the name, e-mail etc etc and realised it wasn't


17 Jan: I reply back stating that I was very surprised by the e-mail and that I thought a mistake had been made as I was not using anything of that value from the company.  I asked that they look into it.


The same day they reply back to me with a copy of the booking form and a screen shot of e-mails with invoices on that they said they had sent to my e-mail address.  I haven't received any of the invoices listed.  The first invoice was dated 31 October and was for £1560.  If I had seen this invoice I would have questioned it at this point.


18 Jan: I wrote back explaining that I thought I had signed for something costing £499 and that I would not have agreed to a package for £2760 as this wouldn't be suitable for someone in my position.  I stated that the figure of £2760 was never mentioned to me at the time of signing.


28 Jan: The publishing company reply back with bullet points of what the package is, this is the only time this information has been presented to me and it is not listed on the booking form.  The e-mail also states that I agreed to the package again on the 11 October but I have no record of this. Later I asked for this evidence and it has not been provided to me.


29 Jan: I again reply stating that I believe I have been mis-sold a product that is not suitable to me and that the price was not mentioned and that had I had this information at the time I would not have agreed to it.  I ask the issue to be escalated.


30 Jan: The publishing company reply again saying that I definitely have not been mis-sold and that I have been invoiced since the end of October and have never expressed a desire to cancel.


31 Jan: I respond again explaining that I hadn't received the invoices and saying again that I cannot use this product nor afford it and I ask that the product be cancelled.  I ask again for the issue to be esculated.


11 Feb: A different a person from the Publishing company responds this time offering the run the activity again (I cannot provide the information they need so this is of no use to me) and they say the balance is still due but propose a payment plan of £1100 a month for 3 months.  The total is now £3300. If I don't agree to the payment plan they will need to go via a financial recoveries company.


11 Feb: I repeat what I have already been saying and I question why the cost is now £3300.  I also state that I will be seeking further advice.


14 Feb: After seeking further advice I send an e-mail explaining that re-running the activity is of no use as I cannot provide the content and propose that I pay them the £499 that I thought I was signing up to as way of final settlement.  I explain that is they wish to pursue further it will mean legal action as I can't cover the cost.


14 Feb: The company replies back saying that their position still stands and that they won't accept my offer of £499. They also explain to me that the £3300 price includes the VAT. I again reply and I express that I am sorry that they don't agree with my proposal which I considered to be fair. I ask them to provide me with further details including the invoices they said they have been sending me. 


14 Feb: A sales manager replies back to me saying that the cost of the package is clearly stated on the booking form, that they will re-run the activity again (yes they have said this to me again) and that unless a payment plan can be agreed they will have to take legal action.


I have made no further contact with them for the time being. 


Attached is a copy of the booking form, this form has been provided to me by them as I cannot find the copy provided to me. 

The blacked out information is my personal details (name, address, e-mail, phone number, my name in print and signature) along with the company details (logo and address at the bottom of the page)


Booking Form (Censored).pdf


Can anyone please advise on what my options are now?


Many thanks indeed.


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hi liz


best idea now is to totally ignore them


a dca is not a bailiff 

and has

zero legal powers on ANY DEBT.


let them do court 

they won't 

and even if they think they can

they have to abide by the pre action protocol and send a letter of claim.


block ALL email addresses and set to bounce posts back.

and from now on do not use the phone or email/text 


there are lots of threads here on various companies doing these magazine advert sc@ms






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please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..


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thsi is unfortunately a common bear trap for small businesses hoping for a bit of marketing to publicise them. The company know that you have never agreed to all of this but hope you will pay up and larger companies tend y lose control over things so dont know who  agreed what with them so pay up rather than fight.

What you now need to do is disengage from them complately, stop trying to sort the problem out, do not respond to their emais and block their email address and phone number.

If they use a dca ignore them as well. Ultimately they will have to show they have behaved fairly if they ant to sue you and as yopu are not a business as sucj that will be difficult for them as you can rely on consumer contract law to protect your interests.

The more you try and reason witht ehm the deeper the hole you are digging for yourself. become single minded over this and ignore everything but a court claim.

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Not able to download the booking form

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Thank you for taking the time to respond and your advice is much appreciated.  Thanks.

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