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Old 09-13-2006, 12:46 PM   #45
privateeye
New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 34
privateeye is on a distinguished road
After exhaustive research I felt compelled to spread my findings with people who I think need to know.
To begin with the agency mentioned here have never been based in Scotland, I have several tentative links to Spain and others to London and Dublin. However I am now positive Spain is a focal point as links do tend to end there.
I shall begin when I first signed with a company now extinct but baring great similarity to H & H. From other sources I found their contracts were exactly the same in content. The mailing address used was one in London, though at a later date I found this was a re-direction point. The service was fast and efficient but soon I began feeling I was being led down a dodgy path. The company had several “known authors” on board but on research these authors had a great deal on internet coverage but little in definitive print. Being of a legal profession I began looking into the practice of such agencies, unfortunately their contract was vague enough to allow for the fact that they had not breached any law. It is at this point I began questioning my “agent “ I was given the run-around and although I never truly believed in them I did cease questioning for a time. Alas matters came to a close and the agency closed, they has fulfilled their contractual obligations (this was a minimum of 10 submissions). However they left a trail of clients that had been given duplicated material and very similar promotion packages. I questioned the relevant authorities and found that the contract stated that the minimum submissions was all they were legally tied by, and that if they sent 10 letters costing £2.40 at the time I had no argument. As no claims were ever submitted in writing with signature any or all information gained was not of use. I delved further, names kept reappearing, Ashton, Wilkes, and Chambers. These individuals were not just involved in literary agencies, they were making money scamming, but within the law, I have confirmation that they delve in the realms of property development and god knows what else.
I have found links to the Sunshine Literary Agency in California who also provide a very similar contract to H & H, a rather elusive Ms Hoffman was not forthcoming when I was able to track her down.
Alas I live near Edinburgh and joyfully saw that an Agency was in my neck of the woods, at the time comments from Firstwriter were strong and I sent work in. Of course I received an almost duplicate contract. I decided then that I would play the game and see where this led, I also believed the comments on First writer (though never again).
My representation began and immediately I noted the names Ashton, Wilkes and Chambers appearing so I decided that I would play along and try to find out all that I could. The address given for submissions was once more a mailing address and from investigation I found that mail would be diverted. Upon questioning the Royal Mail I was astounded to find out how easy this is to set up, especially to a box number abroad, though they stated they needed proof of address it seems when the mail is directed abroad there are few regards, they are just interested in securing the fee. The same can be said for British Telecom, diverting calls from a UK number is very easy especially in a competitive market. To cut short the address I was given was a mailing address, the number though allocated to an address was not actually taken there.
I arranged a meeting, I asked to meet at the office and was told it would be better to meet elsewhere. I agreed, simply because I wanted a face to the voice. As I had been contacted by Ashton at times I stated that I wanted to meet with her. To my surprise I was met by both “Hill” and Ashton in Edinburgh. This was obviously a “class act” every question carefully answered and they fed off each other well. From the contacts I have made in regards to H & H there is definitely more than just one of them, to date I would say five, though I have doubts about the names given especially that of Hill, my thoughts is that this he is a Mr Justin Chambers. When I questioned him about Edinburgh he knew nothing of the place.
I visited the premises declared on the site soon after, this was as I expected not offices and no one knew of the office.
I once more contacted legal friends to enquire just where I stood, my frustration reached a peak when I was informed that from my findings there was no way any action could be taken. However I foolishly decided that the threat of such action might be worthwhile. I contacted the office with demands, they again led me a merry dance but time I was adamant.
I left comments on several forums, hoping that others would question them if for nothing else serious inconvenience , I think this was somewhat successful.
It now seems that these individuals have now fled the nest, the site is closed, the e-mails are rebounding with message of shut down and the phone go answered, BT have informed me the line is to be cut.
I have now several friends in their sunny climate and they are watching matters for me very closely, I have evidence that they have done this on various occasions, in various businesses. As I mentioned three names always appear but I have a listing of who to be aware of: They are Ashton, Wilkes, Chambers, Lee, Rogers. They all appear with regularity, the names Hill, Baines, Turner and Bright are all new additions but all should be frowned upon. I am now certain of a link to Sunshine Literary Agency as well.
I guess that the reason for this message is not to tell you all what is clearly already known, but to highlight the fact that these are not fly by nights trying to make a quick profit, they are organised and work within boundaries. If the law cannot help we must act together on this and make sure people are aware in the future. I am not sure whether I can leave an e-mail contact within the body of this message but invite anyone to contact me privately here.

I was due to forward my message this morning but I have just received this e-mail from Ashton:

“To All Concerned
Please excuse this blanket e-mail message, a copy is being forwarded to all clients at this time.
It may have come to your attention an extremely negative campaign against our company via the internet and in several cases in person and conventional mail. At first we were lax to respond and perhaps this has caused such problems.
Now due to harrassment we are forced to respond to allegation and attack.
It was stated some time ago that our premises in Scotland were due to be vacated, this has taken place in the last few weeks. We have always maintained an office in Almeria from previous business ventures. This is now our central office. Details of office and address will be forwarded accordingly.
Comments of duplication etc were founded sometime ago, action was taken against the individual responsible, it seems the matter was to to a greater degree than first thought.
Our contact details will change as the UK number id due to be unlisted and the e-mail addresses closed, this is due to a few reasons. The @HillandHill addresses are linked to opur website, this is now closed, and the btconnect address in closed due to account termination. our new site which will be starliteraryservice will be launched in October, contract details will be forwarded via post by the close of the week, Justin Chambers will forwarding e-mails from our new address by close of month. All current matters of representation will still be dealt with in the usual manner, all parties are aware of our change of location and contact details.
We can only apologise for this scenario, and will forward the contact information as soon as possible.
Please be advised that this e-mail address as all others will be terminated all response will be dealt with when we forward contact information from our new address.
Claire Ashton”

Of course starliteraryservice must be blackballed straight away! I will also post any new e-mail addresses that are forwarded so all can be aware.


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