More than half of the UK’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have experienced the attempted mis-selling of telecoms services, a new survey has claimed.

A disturbing fifteen percent of the 1,000 businesses asked by The Survey Shop on behalf of BT Business said they had actually become victims of dodgy selling, locked into contracts they felt had been misrepresented to them.

This left them stuck with the unwanted services for 18 months or more, and with legal fees averaging nearly £800. Eleven percent reckoned the experience put them even more out of pocket and with bills of between £1,500 and £5,000.

The 13 percent rise in problems of this kind over the last seven months has made telecoms the most mis-sold service across all business sectors in the UK, the survey concludes. Techniques such as “slamming” are touched on, whereby suppliers are switched without the consent of the business concerned.

The smaller the company, the greater the problems in coping with mis-selling. Outfits of five people or less appear to be particular targets, with 65 percent of those surveyed mentioning the issue.

“It is the responsibility of everyone in the industry to work together to offer guidance and implement measures that will help safeguard SMEs from mis-selling practices,” said Bill Murphy of BT.

The company has published guidelines on avoiding mis-selling which can be accessed on its website.