Disconnected: online advertising company shut down in public interest

A Manchester-based company which sold advertising space on a web-based business directory with little commercial benefit has been wound up in the High Court.

TBL (UK) Ltd was incorporated in March 2016 and traded as UK Business Locator, a derivative of its business directory: www.ukbusinesslocator.com.

However, TBL, based at Cariocca Business Park, Miles Platting, shared a common director and continued similar business to that previously carried out by a linked company, Movette, which was wound up on July 28, 2017 on the grounds that it operated against the public interest.

The Insolvency Service investigated the company’s affairs following complaints from customers.

But the investigation was severely limited due to a lack of co-operation from TBL’s director who failed to produce business documents.

On August 20, the High Court, sitting in Manchester, heard the petition presented on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy.

The investigation established, and in winding up the company the Court accepted, that:

The company had been abandoned by its director, despite customers being sold annual advertising space in the online directory it purported to operate;

Customers received little or no commercial benefit to the advertising space that they purchased from TBL on an annual basis;

TBL failed to make clear to customers that they were agreeing to a 12-month rolling contract which automatically renewed, with customers stating these terms were not explained to them;

TBL improperly sought payment from members of the public where they had not agreed to purchase services from the company and used inappropriate and objectionable methods of debt collection;

TBL had continued the objectionable business model previously carried on by Movette by continuing to target the customers of Movette.

Having seen all the relevant evidence filed by the Secretary of State and in the absence of evidence submitted by the company, which was not present or represented at the hearing, District Judge Obodai wound-up the company, in the public interest.

David Hope, chief investigator with the Insolvency Service, said: “This company engaged in behaviour designed to extract money from advertisers under false pretences.

“Organisations contacted were duped into booking advertisements they had no need of placing, and which were of little, or no commercial benefit to them.

“The Insolvency Service will take action to shut down such rogue businesses.

“Additionally, the business community should take steps to verify the credentials of any third party that contacts them claiming to be continuing the services previously provided by Movette Ltd and/or TBL (UK) Ltd.”