« Chinese unveil new F1 Track | Main | BBC 7 - Seventh Dimension »

Thursday 5 August 2004

European City Guide

I have recently come across a scam that appears to have been going for years and caught out thousands of people across the UK.

European City Guide (http://www.eurocityguide.com/ - I refuse to link them) send out to businesses what appears to be an invitation for a free listing in the European City Guide and on the website. However, hidden in the small print, is the fact that the charge for this entry is 917 Euros per year and that the "contract" lasts 3 years.

Once a business has signed and returned this "invitation" they are bombarded with invoices, threatening letters, demands and finally the matter is placed in the hands of a debt collection agency. Additional charges and interest are added each time.

If you have become a victim of this scam DO NOT PAY!!

There are several websites dedicated to warning people about this threat and they all give the same advice, do not pay. European City Guide have never been known to pursue any action for non-payment through the courts.

If you have received an invitation, invoice or demand from European City Guard, I strongly suggest you take a look at the following sites:

Stop The European City Guide! - This appears to be the most comprehensive of the sites around.
Stop the European City Guide - A single page with suggested letters and links.
STOP European City Guide - Another detailed site although a little out of date. ECG appear to have moved now to Valencia so the address for complaints etc has changed.

Update: StopECG is under attack!

August 5, 2004 12:04 PM | Scams


Sarah Allen-Stevens said on September 29, 2004 10:50 AM:

I'm another unfortunate soul bearing the brunt of ECG. I'm being chased by a firm called Gravis Inkasso, based in Vienna, for payment.

Sarah Allen-Stevens said on September 29, 2004 10:51 AM:

I'm another unfortunate soul bearing the brunt of ECG. I'm being chased by a firm called Gravis Inkasso, based in Vienna, for payment.

Markku Pirila said on November 11, 2004 6:10 PM:


My brother has been cheated by ECG. He has been blue-eyed and payed the first invoice. Now he wants to stop the game and has send fax but ECG refuses to terminate the "contract" and continues to send invoices. At the moment he don't know what to do. Does he have any changes because of the first payment?
Any suggestions?

With Best Regards,

Markku Pirila

Michael Collyer said on February 5, 2005 3:20 PM:

Do not worry if you have signed one of these documents. Do not pay and return all correspondence back to sender. Ovag, Premium Recovery, Gravis Inkasso etc have NEVER taken a case to court. If they did, a ruling against them would set a precedent, meaning there would be no way to legally pursue these fraudalent advertising 'contracts'. A collector working on your file will just close it when the 'debtor' can not be reached. There are around 80000 files being worked on at any one timet, and each new mailshot brings in around 30/40,000 new victims in Europe alone. Closing a file is not a loss. 1 in 5 of all victims pay something, normally 1 year's worth as a negotiated settlement. I spent 5 years at Ovag and Gravis and now my conscience is getting the better of me.

Bjanun said on February 14, 2005 6:54 PM:

Also signed a contract with the ECG in oct-2002 and tried to cancel, but without result. I have never payed a penny and I refuse to do so even that the Premium Recovery make me exposed to severe strain. They also says that earlier temporary stop from Catalan High Court is dismissed. are there anyone who knows the fact and truth behind this?

Hannes Plumpel said on February 22, 2005 11:12 AM:

I must save that 1 recieved a CD
and a Book, both I am using quite a lot. I have no pleblems with them at all.

Michael N Collyer said on March 14, 2005 4:26 PM:

II am Michael Collyer and indeed I did work at OVAG for a number of years finishing as CEO in 2002. I left OVAG in 2004 and no longer have anything to do with them or any associated company. At no time did I ever work for the company GRAVIS. Indeed, I do not know of any such company and as CEO of OVAG had no dealings with such a company.

I did not write this comment and am surprised that your internal systems do not sort out false comments- if you are unable to ensure the genuiness of comments your pages and comments are worthless as your web site can be manipulated to anyone’s advantages. I can confirm that there was no other Michael Collyer working at OVAG at any time since its founding.

I would be grateful if you would indicate the above on your web site, remove any reference to my name, and decline to accept any comment in future using my name. I regret that failure to do so will result in my having to give serious consideration to reporting your site to the appropriate regulators which I hope will not be necessary.

How do you suggest that my internal systems sort out false comments? How should I verify the identity of anyone wishing to comment on my site? Why should I take your comment any more seriously than the other "Michael Collyer"?

I personally do not vouch for the comments left on my site. It is for the reader to determine their worth. They may indeed be worthless, as may 99% of the content of the Internet, without corroboration. Indeed, the whole site could be a work of fiction.

I'm afraid that I will need proof of your identity and the authority under which you ask that I remove the comment in question before I take any action. I'm sure you will appreciate that I need to sort out any false requests.

Dear Michael

I guess I am not suprised to see you on Aardvark's forum.... Still chasing around whenever your name appears in relation to these vile scams.

Would you deny here that for at least part of your time at Ovag you took a wage while being fully aware of how the 'debts' your company collected were generated? Are you proud of your stewardship of Ovag International?

There must be a million and one forums on the WWW where people can post the truth or otherwise about you and the scams.... Are you going to spend the rest your life chasing around, looking for them? Or will you do the right thing which is to use your inside information to get this whole scam industry stopped??

Assuming you really are completely out of the scams industry please feel free to get in contact privately at any time.

Jules, www.stopECG.org

Michael Collyer said on March 16, 2005 11:11 AM:

I note the comments above and would merely point out that I am proud of my time at OVAG and will quite catogorically state that OVAG were not and to the best of my knowledge are not now a scam. I do not run around chasing anything where my name is in relation to scams I am only keen to establish the TRUTH. Ovag are a collection company collecting debts that is the whole TRUTH if you have a problem with ECG or any other scam there is a very good legal system in each and every country - I suggest you use it.

Pierre Saint-Pol said on April 25, 2005 1:36 PM:

I want only bring facts into the above discussion. It could be that Ovag was a professional collection company under Mr Collyer but according to my own experience (linked to ECG activities)I can testify that currently, OVAG is less than qualified in its domain of activity. Since spring 2004, the company has been harrassing the school of music I am running in southern France despite the proof I have sent to them and to ECG since 2003 that there is no legal basis to their demands : no signature for any publishing contract (copy of their own mailing was enclosed to the different mails). Since year 2003, we have still been receiving mail from OVAG (and not from ECG) arguing that we are wrong and so we still are regularly summoned to paid some 1900€. Can a professional company accept to act without any legal basis ?

Philippe Lahm said on April 30, 2005 4:30 AM:

It is bad to see Jules Woodell again being envolved in a dirty discussion about the identity of one of the people in the discussion. If he wants to accuse somebody it is easy to take a lawyer and go to court. I am seek to see advises from him in the internet that have never brought legal outcome. Dear Jules why didn't you study law to prove your law skils?

I do really work for them, it's sad but not different from many other scams, it will work until people are stupid and until easy money can be made. After all this society is all about money, think of it as a robin wood that give us some money at the end of the month instead of unemployment, eheheh, sorry but when this is over another company strategy starts, accept that there's no way to stop, we can only make people more inteligent, kisses

The European City Guide have been persuing me for payment since Feb 2003, at present I am getting letters from the Gravis debt collection agency based in Austria. I can say, I WILL NOT PAY, they will have to see me in court, and I will gather an army of others to back me on the day.. remeber: DO NOT PAY.

What I don't understand is how can a company like ECG continue their activities while they have already been convicted by the Catalan court? Is no one able to stop them (again)? Is there currently legal action against them? Should victims still reply on their mail or simply return it?

john said on August 2, 2005 1:22 PM:

contacted by gravis this am! happy to accept £767 instead of 1930 euros!!!!! my maths are good & that is definitely not the correct exchange rate.so this is a professional debt collector happy to undercollect for their customer??? more substance to the scam

John said on August 9, 2005 10:57 AM:

We have been contacted by Gravis.Several times in the last
four Days ,
They did call us to try and find a compromise . They were advised we would not pay a euro and to take us to court.

Swiss Police have raided the scam guides
More here


It is imperative that no one pays these guides money at this time!

I was scammed by the Tour & Travel Guide,now defunct.
Looks like NovaChannel, the Tourist Directory has taken over and incurred the wrath of the Swiss. See http://homepage.ntlworld.com/cowalpark/extract from www.stopecg.org

an Attorney said on September 15, 2005 8:47 PM:

I think that it is a matter of the justice to judge what is write and what is wrong. Everything else is just a prejudice......

Another Attorney said on September 18, 2005 4:31 PM:

What utter Rubbish that "Attorney" rights!

The first test is for the individual to decide what is right and what is wrong according to her own conscience.

If the judiciary were the only ones who knew what was right and wrong what a mess there would be, and how long would it take to get anything done.

That is what the executive is for Shock & Awe.

I say Speak UR Mind, and use the spell checker next time.

Johnny said on September 19, 2005 8:57 PM:

I was also a victim of the NOVA Channel comapny. the same as you all. i am using a lawyer and am complaining to the police of my country and to the authorities in Switzerland and Austria. what more should i do? i have refused to pay and will lay a claim against them for fraud.

Johnny, forget about a claim for fraud, after all did you or did you not sign a paper with the word "order" above your signature? Ambiguous yes, intentionally designed to deceive, you bet, but fraudelent, that is for a kriminal court to decide. Lucernes public prosecutor is currently seeing if their is enough evidence for a case to be heard, and more importantly, if it is likely to be sucesful due to the complicated cross border issues. Ignore all contact from Novachanel, it will eventually desist. Whether it is a deception or not is one thing, but it seems their are many STUPID people in business who sign forms without vetting first. Personally, they should pay something for their INCOMPETENCE. I don't mean the launderette ladies or the mobile hairdressers featured in ECG but rather the managers and directors that sign 5 year INTERCABLE contracts in the PRESENCE of a representive on site! How stupid is that? This guy called ADRIAN WITTMER have the last laugh, although his asset will be well hidden in his most successful (or most stupid) market, the Karibean if it all goes wrong.

I am one of the STUPID businessmen to whom the attorney refers.Some forms I deal with require vetting and others don't and the 'Intercable Verlag 'European Internet Directory' form is designed [and folded] to appear as one of the latter.Most folk go about their daily life in the hope that fellow citizens behave honestly.We know there are cheats and crooks out there,but life would become intolerable if we had to guard ourseves against them every minute of the day.Burglars,rapist's,scam guide publishers and other low lifes recognize this fact and subsequently take advantage of it.
My view why the guide scam has been perpetuated for so long is because attorney's love this sort of case.The 'order' forms were undoubtedly designed by a member of the legal profession,and in such a way that it's interpretation is open to DOUBT.Doubt puts the icing on the cake of many legal advisors.

Scott said on October 8, 2005 3:09 PM:

This is the most stupid discussion that I have ever seen. Please help to the hungry people of Africa in order to survive. Thanks to all of you

O.K. Scott.Perhaps you should tell us all exactly how you are helping the hungry of Africa to survive in order that we can follow your example.

Carmel Agius said on November 3, 2005 10:01 AM:


Had they been genuine about the whole thing and avoid chasing after payments, they should have requested payment with the applications.

pastor said on November 4, 2005 12:20 AM:

i am also one of the fooled ones. pastoring a church, i am not a lawyer... plus it is so easy to become a victim. well, the question is: should we pay? are we going to be hunted for money? will they just quit bugging us? anyone out there who has gone through it and they do not bug him any more? thanks...

yet another attorney said on November 4, 2005 6:14 PM:

Pastor - you haven't got a thing to worry about. The letters will get nastier and more threatening, but then they will stop. The companies are all in the process of being closed down with the owners facing criminal charges. Yes, the collections continue but do not worry. Info at stopecg.org

There is a petition against the ECG

Something needs to be done!

WARNING! Seems like www.stopecg.org site is down at the moment.

I was harrassed by Gravis Inkaso, too. Any vigilantes around? ... eh, just kidding ...

I signed the ECG contract 2 years ago. When the first invoice arrive I was horror stricken. However the advice listed on the Stop the ECG website was very helpful.

At the moment the Stop the ECG website appears to be down, apparently there's been some kind of legal action against them. However, don't forget that Google keeps a webpage cache for years. :-)

My advice would be:
1. dont send them any money
2. cancel the contract so it cannot run for longer than 3 years
3. don't agree to the advert proof copy they send you. Basically use any reasonable excuse to reject it.
4. keep writing letters to them asking them to re-send previous letters.
5. keep requesting CD's and the catalog but never admit to recieving any of them. When the CD's and catalogs arrive, stick them straight in the bin. :-) Then write and ask them send the CD's and catalog.
6. don't ever get into an arguement, but do state your case firmly but very politely.
7. just have loads of fun writing letters and recieving the replies. The best way to exhaust these scammers is to scam bust them by taking up all their time. I've personally enjoyed the ECG scam and cannot wait for the next threatening letter.

phil corper said on November 29, 2005 7:50 PM:

We are being pusued by Novachannel in Switzerland and their debt collectors Gravis in Austria in common with the other people on this discussion whom they have mislead. We will not pay. We have referred them both to the UK Office of Fair Trading which has raised the matter with the Swiss authorities. The BBC reported that several Swiss companies were raided as a result. I urge anyone who is suffering from this to report the matter to their own trading standards authority. In addition, there are organisations which can also help called the European Consumer Centre (operated in the UK by Citizens Advice wwww.citizensadvice.org.uk) and the European Advertising Standards Alliance www.easa-alliance.org. I suggest that everone contacts them too.

The European City Guide refered our case to Gravis in Austria, and today I recieved the first telephone call from an English speaking man on 02077840040. I called the number back to obtain the individuals name, however the number is unavailable from mobile and BT networks.

If you are interested in who owns the Gravis web site and would like to write them a letter, the details are below. Romain BAULESCH even kindly left his email address, would it be a shame if he recieved lots of spam:

Gravis Inkasso GmbH (GRAVISIN47)
Lindengasse 41

Wien, , A-1070

Domain name: gravis-austria.com

Technical contact:
Domain Administrator, Nextra (ND333)
Nextra Telekom GmbH
Nussdorfer Laende 23

Wien, , A-1190
+43.1525330 Fax: +43.152533100

Administrative contact:
BAULESCH, Romain (RB1701)
Gravis Inkasso GmbH
Lindengasse 41

Wien, , A-1070
+43.1521870 Fax: +43.15218720

Record created: 2005-02-07 18:48:25
Record last updated: 2005-02-07 18:48:25
Record expires: 2006-02-12 07:03:00

Domain servers in listed order:

Simon said on December 31, 2005 9:35 AM:

Well today I got a missed call on my mobile showing unknown although as I'm with o2 they send me a text with the missed calls even when the phones off so I was given the +442077840040 number. quick online search finds this place and to be honest I'm very confused I have no idea who or why they would be contacting me

edwina said on December 31, 2005 5:43 PM:

Hi, I'm O2 too and I got three missed calls from them too.

Julie said on January 3, 2006 2:51 PM:

We too have been contacted by the ECG, there is no way they are having payment off us. See you in court :-))
With many others LOL - Then your activities will be exposed :-)

john said on January 3, 2006 4:18 PM:

Thanks to Google I too was able to discover more about this number. I called it and got no information.
Tel 020 7784 0040

I'm in the US and we got hit by Construct Data Mar 2004. For every letter they sent me, I sent back just as wordy of letter countering their claims. They left me alone for a year then came back with another year's invoice. Did another round of letters and now am being chased by Premium Recovery. Got the first call Tuesday - luckily had done my homework (thank you StopECG website!) - and was prepared. Person was trying to refute all I was saying and so after I'd said all I would - I accidentally/on purpose hung up on them. He called back 3 times - we put him on terminal hold - what the heck - was their dime! Today had letter from them that they didn't think I was amicable nor taking the situation seriously - and then laid out 1.5 pages of why the Construct Data claim was valid. I sent back a 1 page letter refuting their claim and stating don't call us again and if you sue us, we're countersuing. Included lots of references to having already consulted legal counsel and several US and Austrian governmental agencies. Which we have - including filing criminal complaint with a US agency for mail fraud.

In the end - keep a sense of humor - out write them - and do not pay.

The number +44-207-7840040 is a VIRTUAL central London number. We paid a fee so that we may give the people we intimidate the inpression of a UK presence. This way, when we give threats and talk about going to court, it seems more realistic and truthful! The caller is in Switzerland always (that way Premium are not have to change technique due to EU telecoms, privacy & debt chasing laws. )

Yup, just got the un-callbackable (it's a word right?) 020 7784 0040 call today as well.

I don't have anything to do with these guys, but I'm dying to know what the call was in reference to...gaaah! :o)

L'observer said on January 15, 2006 4:12 PM:

stopecg under DOS attack @ 15.01.2006 CET17:22. Site blocked. Meinolf doing everything to silence Jules!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Martha said on January 20, 2006 1:36 AM:

I am one of these victims as well. I am so glad we have the internet today because I have found all kinds of information about Nova Channel and their Scam! I have tried to access the website stopecg and the page doesn't come up. If anyone has anymore information that I could use off the website It would be greatly appreciated. I am from Canada. Thankyou

I am the man involved in the criminal activity of authoring www.stopecg.org . That is if you believe the letters sent by Novachannel's UK Lawyer.

The letters sent by Nick Cunningham of Wragge & Co LLP have been enough to scare our upstream provider into pulling the plug. Read this excellent write up on the blog of
Richard Corbett MEP
Or this from the
Daily Mirror
There are too many people in dispute with Meinolf Lüdenbach’s guide companies for us to walk away from this! If www.stopecg.org is offline when you check, please try again a day or so later
Jules Woodell

Tamara said on January 28, 2006 12:20 AM:




Tamara, sorry, but your silly naive child like comments are not much help here. Please only post things that are informative for this cause.

alan said on January 30, 2006 2:38 PM:

Check out this site it tells you where to write to and who to make an officail complaint to in Spain. Hopefully it will be of some help...


Jules said on February 2, 2006 1:51 PM:

The AOL site above is out of date.

www.stopecg.org is back online, however it is good to have the information distributed as widely as possible

below are the main adresses you should write to if you are in dispute with the ECG.

You should write a letter of complaint in your own words explaining if/why you signed the contract in error and detailing what aspects of the form mislead you.

Then make copies of ALL your correspondance with the ECG and send the complaint + your correspondance to each of the adresses below.

Dirección General de Comercio (Regional Government of Valencia)
Mr. Gregorio Lleó Alamá
C/ Colón, 32
46004 Valencia

Instituto Nacional del Consumo
(Ms. Lourdes Dietta)
C/ Principe de Vergara 54
E-28006 Madrid

Dña. Rita Barberá Nolla (Mayor Of Valencia)
Ayuntamiento de Valencia
Plaza del Ayuntamiento, 1
46002 Valencia

Asociación para la Autorregulación de la Comunicación Comercial (Autocontrol)
Address: Conde de Peñalver,
52, 1º D, E -
28006 MADRID

Also consider sending a copy to the Spanish Embassy in your own country

UK Residents
Please then also visit
and sile a complaint by fax with your MEP, asing that they put pressure on the Spanish to stop the ECG

bill larn said on February 5, 2006 1:29 PM:


violet said on February 20, 2006 12:56 PM:

Most debt collectors use fake names when they contact the debtors. Consequently they also sign with false signatures whenever they send out letters etc.
Is anyone well-informed about this type of practice? Is it legal?

sysco said on February 21, 2006 6:47 PM:

Today I got "final warning" from Gravis. First they tried several times to fax me (from the hidden number). The "problem" is that I never answer on calls from hidden number. Now, it came a letter that says I should finally pay it. They would "appreciate if I express more attention and proffessional behaviour in this matter". However, if there is "no positive reaction either from me or my lawyer, they will conclude we are not ready to make an out of court settlement". Then, they will be forced to start a legal procedure. "This document shows we are still willing to make a positive solution and prevent a court process".

Of course, letter was sent from P.O. Box 205 in Vienna.

any comments ?

We are a busy surgery. The doctor recalls he never signed for the E.C.Guide. However we were sent a copy of the so called form with his signature and date. This is worring because it appears the signature could possibly be lifted off an nhs document. The company said that we used our official stamp on the document, this is untrue, firstly the address is incorrect and secondly we have never had a stamp with this font. They are now at the the stage of making phone calls and sending faxes( Gravis Inkasso). This is outrageous as we are an extremely busy surgery, and this company uses our valuable time. It appears to me that they are extremely stupid, as why would a surgery be in a european city guide. We do not have any private clinics. WE do not need to advertise!!!

Horst Weiss said on February 24, 2006 12:23 PM:

NS - ECG & other guides NEVER counterfeit signatures and stamps. We do not need to while there are enough people signing in mistake. More likely doctor signed and too embarassed to say. You will be amazed of how many doctors and clinics are in our books. Think again!

Horst- How can you sleep at night knowing you have conned thousands of people!Your certainly not a decent human being.Everyday you cause misery to others, some small businesses that are constantly worrried about this debt. Do you actually feel proud in defending ECG? You think again!!

sysco said on March 5, 2006 5:39 PM:

Stop ECG says: "Did you sign up before the summer of 2003?
Please check your contract with the ECG, if it states that the place of jurisdiction is Barcelona you have signed the older version which as been ruled as misleading by the courts in Barcelona".

Today, again final warning. If no payment within 7 days, everything goes to court of Valencia. However, in my "so called contract" it's written (2003) that the seat of company is Barcelona and the Barcelona court is arbitraty court. The same one that ruled of the contract.

So, this is another "nice try"

akut said on April 20, 2006 1:42 PM:

also we have been fooled by the tourist guide and nova channel.
now there is letters and faxes arriving from gravis. not threatening yet but reminding.
what comes strange to me is that on all the letters and faxes the dates are very early compared to the arrival dates of them.
we have not paid anything yet and are not planning of doing so.

Hi - i just received a missed call from the 020 number as well. I racked my memory but i don't remember signing up to anything, therefore how did they get my number and why are they ringing me? I haven't received anything in the post as of yet...won't pay anything even if i do!

Adam said on June 25, 2006 10:31 AM:

I received a call from that number today (02077840040). It was a friend of mine in Germany for the World Cup.

From what I understand, it is a number that T-Mobile (his network) uses to connect roaming calls from Germany to the UK.

Mike said on October 26, 2006 4:47 PM:

It seems like the net is closing. Intercable raided, Premium raided, who's next? I had lot's of threating letters from a Melanie Arabiano & Adrian Witmer at Intercable, they are all in cahoots with each other it seems! Info at stopecg.org

A Norwegian said on March 22, 2007 6:03 PM:

The European City Guide has now started sending letters to Norwegian businesses and schools. I have just today received the order form, but will of course not sign it and return it. It would be interesting to see if they send out any more correspondence. A school here in Norway was severely harassed by the Guide after having signed the order form.

sean said on April 12, 2007 3:01 PM:

does anyone have any comments to the cases lost by the customers of these companies in the past years. did this or stopecg (woodell) websies pay their subscription fees, interest, charges or indeed the heavy court costs of both parties involved?

sean said on April 12, 2007 3:02 PM:

does anyone have any comments to the cases lost by the customers of these companies in the past years. did this or stopecg (woodell) websies pay their subscription fees, interest, charges or indeed the heavy court costs of both parties involved?

Stefan said on April 12, 2007 7:03 PM:

I do see that Sean is a employee at Premium Recovery! Do ignore his comments, shame to you sean!

Sam said on July 8, 2007 5:16 PM:

I got a call from the same number +442077840040. I turned my phone before i went to sleep and when i woke i switched it one and my ntework (t'mobile) sent me a message saying i got a missed call from that number....weird. so i typed the number into google and this...

Gerry said on July 29, 2007 7:16 PM:

I just had 2 missed calls from 02077840040 - try calling back and number invalid - what is going on!!!

E Sjogren said on February 4, 2008 1:56 PM:


This is so nice to see someone tough this serious.
I'm also in the middle of this damn shit.
I keep getting invoices to pay almost 1000 euro. and now they even set me up for 2 more years. 2 x 987 euro.. lol
I never paid the money for the first one.
But i email them 3 month ago and they replayed that i had sign for all this.
I even got the new EuroCityGuide CD/DVD..

But i'm so glad to see this side.
I was on my way to go to the Danish police to sought this matter ones for all.

I'm so happy i came a cross this place.

Keep op the good work.

Erik Sjogren

Leave a comment

« Chinese unveil new F1 Track | Main | BBC 7 - Seventh Dimension »

Sponsored Links

theaardvark's 2DBarcode


domesticated bloggage


Evil Inc
Ctrl Alt Del
Real Life
Wapsi Square
Least I Could Do
Dueling Analogs