Friday, 31 August 2012

Dubious business practices.

Over the years I've developed the view that common courtesy is an essential part of client relationships. Part of the process is to show respect to clients/prospects. Wasting the time of a client/prospect shows a lack of respect.  When I see those signs of discourtesy I tend to assign the supplier to the blacklist/scam pile and refuse to do business with them in the future.

Take for example Clifton Asset Management Plc based in Bristol UK. They have the practice of periodically sending me prospecting letters offering Overdraft and Loan facilities for my business. As it happens we do not run our business using the debt model and we have no interest in such offers. What really annoys me is that the signed letters from Adam Tavener Chairman of Clifton Asset Management Plc are marked "Private and Confidential" on the outside of the envelope. The contents are clearly neither private nor confidential. Mr Tavener has no prior business relationship with me or my company. The wrongful labelling of the envelope is a deceitful practice designed to help the letter bypass any secretarial filter.

Such deceit does not bode well for any future business relations with this company so they are now blacklisted. 

However their letters continue to arrive. There is a note at the foot of the letters saying please contact Clifton "should you wish to unsubscribe"; yet another clear indicator of unsolicited mail as we didn't subscribe in the first place.  We've contacted them on previous occasions to ask them to stop sending such letters to our organisation to no avail.  

Earlier this week I phoned Clifton Asset Management to speak with Mr Adam Tavener as invited to do so by his letter. The call was answered by a telephone clerk. I made it clear I  wanted to discuss the dubious marketing practices with Mr Tavener, but I was told he's a busy man and would not be available.  I left a message for him to call me. I'm not surprised to have not been called by Mr Tavener. Ignoring my complaint is a further sign of disrespect.

Since then I've undertaken some research into Clifton Asset Management,  the associated companies, the management team and their history. They are certainly not the type of company that I'd consider using in any shape or form in the future.  It just goes to show that a lack of courtesy is a reliable business indicator. I have no evidence that their services are a scam, indeed they are registered and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, but it would be a cold day in Hell before I'd consider using them.

It seems like I'm not alone in these thoughts, and here.

Edit: 14/11/2013 We just can't seem to get away from these people. We've moved to a new location and are receiving mail for the previous occupant including letters marked "private and confidential". The return address on those letters is  TMS PO Box 10044, Hucknall NG15 5DQ which appears to trace back to Clifton Asset Management. We've marked them Return to Sender, but have no great hopes about the letters ceasing.

Edit: 31/01/2014 It seems like the Clifton Asset Management is still up to its old tricks. Despite requests from us to cease and desist sending us their junk mail we had another letter from them dated 27th January 2014. Marked "Private and Confidential" which it is not, the letter puts forward schemes to raid our pension funds by borrowing against them and along the way paying large fees to Clifton Asset Management. It seems a rather parasitic use of funds which should be held in trust for the fund members. This time however their website has changed to pensionledfunding.com. There appears to be a new name in the frame of Neil Greenaway as the Managing Director. I wonder what it will take for Clifton Asset Management to leave us in peace? 

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