I have recently been encountering an organisation whose mode of operation is to dupe members of venue staff into "agreeing" to have their venue advertised "online". Subsequently a bill arrives for this service.
The initial conversation typically starts along the lines of "we advertise [xyz] online and we are ringing to update the details". The confirmation of details is interpreted by the seller to be a verbal contract. I have one instance of where "we advertise [xyz]" was a complete lie. Other cases are a bit greyer, for example one listing is there with details that appear to date back to the previous ownership of the venue (though I suspect that they never paid the bill when it arrived either).
When the bill is ignored, they use a London-based harassment service to start sending official-looking letters. This service advertises that it will "send a carefully crafted series of letters prompting payment directly to the supplier". The letter states that the debtor should not reply to it and instead direct all correspondence to the creditor.
I have personally taken some of the phone calls, from three different websites that are using this tactic. All are registered to the same individual. I even spoke to one guy who claimed to be a debt collector when I clearly recognised his voice as being from one of these websites.
What aspects of this operation are illegal? Could any of these verbal agreements be enforceable?