Reporter: Gordon Harcourt
New Zealand Business Online
In the last few days Fair Go has had complaints pouring in about New Zealand Business Online Ltd (NZBOL).
It's a company which offers an online business directory. We rekon they have just done a national mail-out, because on Monday we started getting faxes and emails complaining about invoices asking for "renewal" of a subscription on www.nzbol.co.nz
I've called up the people who've complained to us, and ALL of them say they've never accepted an offer to appear on this site.
Most say they've never heard from NZBOL at all, or at least they aren't aware of it.
NZ Business Online Ltd is run by Shallandra Singh. He's been in the business directory game for years, and he's been the subject of quite a bit of media attention about his business methods. Last year he appeared on ONE News, denying claims his telemarketers were giving businesses false details about the number of viewers of their online listing.
Show me the evidence
I asked Shallandra Singh to provide evidence of the relationship that's being "renewed".
He said his telemarketers call thousands of businesses, offering a free listing on the website.
Six months or a year later they send out the offer to renew the listing. I asked him for evidence of that prior relationship - a voice recording of the sales call.
He said he didn't have time to do that before our programme (14/10/09), but they are investigating our concerns.
Pro forma invoicing
We aren't necessarily accusing NZBOL of engaging in this practice, but "pro forma invoicing" (false invoicing) is illegal under the Fair Trading Act.
Don't pay that invoice
Our advice is simple. If you don't know an invoice is legit, don't pay it! The NZBOL invoices are for $98 plus GST, so it's the sort of thing that could easily slip past without being approved by a higher up. If you work in a big company, let the accounts people know.