Hundreds of small businesses hit by huge bills from company ‘linked to a scam’

Media company goes bust - but the bills keep coming for its customers

When Northern Ireland firm Viewble Media UK Ltd went bust last June its customers had expected that it would be the end of a sorry chapter in which they paid large amounts of money for advertising screens in their businesses. Sadly that was not the case as an Australian firm called Rhino Media Group (RMG) picked up the clients from Viewble’s directors for an undisclosed sum in June and continued to bill around 1,500 companies across the UK due to legal small print in the original contracts.

Peter Coulter of the BBC said: “Business owners signed a three-year deal, in which they agreed to pay £299 a month on the understanding they would be compensated by the sale of adverts for other businesses. The paperwork was completed for the business owners; in most cases they just had to give a digital signature on an iPad.

“Affected businesses have told BBC News NI they did not realise that as part of the paperwork they had signed, they had agreed to finance deals worth almost £11,000 per screen, which they would have to pay regardless of whether they were making any money from ad sales. Finance was arranged on behalf of the business owners, many of whom were unaware of the small print in the contract pointing out they would be liable if anything went wrong. Most businesses did initially receive some payments from the advertising, but these stopped when Viewble Media collapsed in June.”

BBC Northern Ireland reported that RMG took over Viewble's office in Bangor, County Down, retained some of its staff, and said it would start to pay businesses back. However they said RMG has contacted its customers saying it will no longer be able to make the repayments unless it manages to sell any more ads.

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said this was a classic case of firms signing up to something without first checking out the background to the directors and the company itself – something ICSM members can do automatically.

He said: “We heard about this company through members who had come across stories about the linked firm in Australia. Associates ran credit checks on the firm and its directors and that’s when alarm bells began to ring. You should never sign up to a contract on an i-Pad like this.”

Peter Coulter of BBC Northern Ireland said: “Customers can no longer contact RMG, which has laid off all its staff and closed its Bangor office. Businesses upset about the finance deals have asked for help with repayments - but the contracts appear to be legally binding. Some businesses have cancelled their direct debits, while others have appointed solicitors to review the terms of their agreements.”

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