Bert Elliott from Summerland Antiques is not happy about receving a final notice bill for artwork concerning a free magazine advertisement.
Bert Elliott from Summerland Antiques is not happy about receving a final notice bill for artwork concerning a free magazine advertisement. Doug Eaton

High price to pay for free advertising

NOTHING in life is free, so Summerland Antiques owner Bert Elliott has found out.

Two years ago Mr Elliott was offered free advertising by a Spanish company that would promote his antique business overseas in the magazine European City Guide.

"When they sent me the letter I thought it was nice of them to offer me free advertising," he said.

Having signed the letter to agree to the advertising deal and sent away a picture of a bronze sculpture to appear in the advert, Mr Elliott thought it would be the last he would hear from the company.

However, three to four months later the company charged him $1200 for artwork for the advert he had placed.

With his business premises on the market, Mr Elliott responded to the letter, asking the company to cancel the advertisement as it would no longer be needed.

The company refused to cancel the advertisement, and before he knew it, Mr Elliott was asked to pay interest equal to the original amount he had been charged.

"I ended up getting first and second reminders for payment and these said I needed to pay $2450," he said.

The company then informed Mr Elliott earlier this year that he would be charged 5.5 per cent interest on the amount for each day until he paid up.

Now the company has threatened to take legal action against him, and that he will be liable for the legal costs.

Mr Elliott admits he lost a bit of sleep over the incident, and began wondering if he had somehow missed reading the fine print at the bottom.

"I started thinking 'did I really do this?'," he said.

Mr Elliott had tried contacting the company numerous times on the phone number it supplied, but no one answered. He then wrote asking for a complete invoice.

"They sent me back a piece of paper stating costs of $1200 with my signature down the bottom, and I knew it definitely was a complete con," he said.

"I'm always careful with my advertising dollars, so I knew there was no way I would have signed that document and spent that much on advertising unless it had been for an antiques magazine."

Now Mr Elliott is seeking legal advice, and is warning others against scams.

"I'm sure this would scare some people. You just never know what will happen with these schemes, and it will always be at the back of my mind," he said.

"I just hope this serves as a warning for others. If it looks too good, just leave it alone."


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