Manchester company misrepresented itself as Google, and is closed down after official investigation
A Manchester-based firm called Movette Ltd has been wound up in the High Court, after an investigation by the UK’s Insolvency Service.
It discovered that Movette had been “misrepresenting itself as Google” when selling a service to manage the online ‘Google My Business’ listings of its customers.
Google My Business is a genuine service from Google that encourages companies to share information and images about themselves to help it display relevant listings in its Search and Maps tools.
But the Insolvency Service investigation came about after a “significant volume of complaints” to various regulatory bodies about Movette, which had been trading for two years.
The investigation found that Movette had been charging a fee of between £199 and £249 for a 12 month contract, and it had received fees totalling £537,000 in that two-year period.
There is no word on what has happened to that money.
The investigation found that Movette had “misled customers by stating or implying that it represented or was affiliated to Google when in reality there was no such relationship.”
It also falsely stated or implied that customers would lose their existing services from Google if payment was not made to the company, and to make matters worse, even used debt collection methods which were “offensive and threatening.”
And it seems that the people running this company have previous form.
This is because the government agency noted that a very similar business called Online Platform Management Consultants Ltd, which had operated from the same Manchester address, was wound up on 13 April 2015 on the grounds that it operated against the public interest.
“Movette used deceptive methods to persuade customers to sign up for its service, including stating or implying that it represented or was connected to Google,” said Colin Cronin, Investigation Supervisor with the Insolvency Service.
“The company then made it difficult for customers to extract themselves from rolling contracts and used debt collection methods which were coercive and intimidatory,” Cronin added. “These proceedings show that the Insolvency Service will take firm action against companies which operate in this manner.”
“I would urge any business which is contacted by cold-call and invited to sign up for a Google My Business listing to make full enquiries into the service being offered before entering into any agreement,” he concluded. “Google My Business is, in fact, a free service which allows businesses to enter and update information with the intention of marketing themselves to users of the search engine.”