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DTI petitions to wind up £100 PC business

Trading Standards acts to stop PC Help

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Lancashire company Smartalk Ltd is facing a compulsory winding up order from the DTI over its £100 PC giveaway scheme.

The DTI petitioned the High Court on Friday for the action, and the Official Receiver has been appointed as provisional liquidators. This will put a stop to the PC Help, too-good-to-be-true, scheme the company started running earlier this year.

The idea was to flog a 500MHz Intel Celery PC for £50 plus £50 P&P. Punters had to answer mind-numbing market research questions every month for two years. If at the end of this time they wanted to keep the PC, it would cost another £50 - while forgetting to fill in one of the monthly forms would cost up to the full 'value' of the £600 PC.

The company reckoned to have 250,000 of the machines to give out to UK households. It would make its cash by selling the research results.

Back in June The Reg reported on this offer, noting the small print and the fact that the offer seemed too good to be true. And we weren't the only ones - Lancashire Trading Standards was also suspicious and had started investigating the company two months earlier.

It had "always failed to obtain any information as to the source of additional monies to fund the
purchase of the computers being supplied or evidence to show that significant money could be obtained from the sale of the 'questionnaire' information.

"It has been our serious concern that the supply of a limited number of computers has simply been funded by the flow of new participants into Smartalk's scheme," according to a statement from Lancashire County Council seen by The Register.

Anyone having sent money to the company can call the Official Receiver on 0207 637 6425.

Visitors to the PC Help site are currently being directed to www.info4pc.com which, according to the site is the new trading name for PC Help. It is offering PCs for £150.

The site describes info4pc as a global business with offices in Australia, Canada, Norway, and the US. A photo of the global HQ in Leyland, Lancashire, shows a nice-looking Porsche in the car park. ®

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