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Yellow Pages Ads Without Permission

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by Kirstie, Oct 1, 2014.

  1. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    We just spent a wasted half hour on the phone to the AT&T Yellow Pags to complain that we did not authorize a renewal of our display ad. They claim that there is a line in the contract that states that we had to have sent a written cancellation two weeks before the renewal date. They claim they sent a letter, which they did not. They now say we are liable for the monthly bill.

    Sounds like grounds for a class action lawsuit to me.
     
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  2. Mike Labbe

    Mike Labbe Member, Former moderator team volunteer

    Our local yellow page books have that same clause. One year they invoked it, and that was the year we decided not to do business with them any more.

    A long since dead form of advertising, imo
     
  3. MnSue

    MnSue SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    When things like this have happened with business issues, I have:
    1) asked to speak with a number of "higher ups" - at times I've gotten to and spoken to VP's in getting resolution. If not,
    2) Call the Attny General. (In MN they send out a form to be sent back to them)
    3) SEND A LETTER with your "case" to AT&T with a cc at the bottom to the Attny General.

    I've always found and had interesting results!


    I once had to spend 3.5 hours on the phone with a cc processing company that had been "officially" cancelled. But the name on the cancelation form (owner of the business) was not the former employee who opened the account. They wanted the "owner" to prove his ownership before they would cancel. I worked my way up the ladder...got a DO, and "miraculously" a document was found with his name!!!. Saved $900/yr that was being billed with no activity on the account for 3 yrs. (now that's another story!)

    Unfortunately, it takes time. good luck...
     
  4. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I think a lot of companies are going with that desperation clause nowadays. I no longer work with anybody that has automatic renewals. I know how infuriating that is.

    Ed
     
  5. FM Framer

    FM Framer CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    The Dallas Morning news operates in much the same manner - except they call their automatic subscription renewal a "convenience" (for who?).
     
  6. Larry Peterson

    Larry Peterson PFG, Picture Framing God


    Same same here. Almost all magazines have this "feature". I either write a check for subscriptions or use a card that expires before the subscription is up.

    Many magazines rope you in with a cheap rate for the first year or two and then the renewals are for the "subscription rate in effect" which is always significantly higher than what you paid initially. I wait until the renewal notices get low enough to renew.

    Here is what one of them says:

    [h=4]Entertainment Weekly Magazine Auto Renewal Benefits[/h]Your Entertainment Weekly Magazine Subscription is coming soon! As an added bonus, your magazines will continue annually. Towards the end of each subscription period you will receive a reminder notice and your account will be charged the rate on the notice for the next year of issues until you tell us to stop. Enjoy your subscription!

    Right. Such an added bonus. To them maybe; not to the subscriber. Being a certified control freak, I want absolute control over what I pay and when.
     
  7. Less

    Less SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    yeh but,

    YP.com tells me that my print ad is free with my internet advertising.

    How do you feel about YP.com's offerings?

    I am on the fence RIGHT NOW. Google vs YP or both? I really want eyes just outside of my area.
     
  8. Mike Labbe

    Mike Labbe Member, Former moderator team volunteer

    Google is where people are going to go, IMHO. There are dozens of yp type sites, but Google does a better job of it IMO. They also integrate with the popular navigation apps that most folks are using these days (Waze, Google maps, etc)

    WAZE was bought by Google and just added the PLACES feature a couple days ago. It lets folks take pictures of businesses so theyll be featured on the maps. I have been beta testing the new version for months, and am a big fan.
     
  9. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Actually, if you are a truly interested subscriber, it's a benefit to you as well. I subscribe to Road & Track, and have it on auto-renew. I never have to worry about it; it always shows up in my mailbox. Same thing with Consumer Reports.
     
  10. cvm

    cvm PFG, Picture Framing God

    I am a big fan of WAZE as well.
     
  11. Rick Bergeron - CPF

    Rick Bergeron - CPF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Got bit by that one too. Pulled out the contract and the verbiage is there. In the finer of the fine print. Possibly page 4 of the finer, fine print. Unless cancelled, the ad auto-renews for the same cycle terms. The same fine print also says that they have the option to extend the cycle up to 18 months on their discretion.
     
  12. Cliff Wilson

    Cliff Wilson SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    class action might be problematic.
    the YP companies are all split up and local.
    it's not "the telephone company" any more.
    I am sure the company you contract with is unrelated to the one I would be if I did YP at all.
     
  13. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I fear you will be stuck with it too. It is completely ridiculous, but if it's in the fine print, it might be hard to fight.

    I don't renew my magazine subscriptions any longer. I still had one (Cooks Illustrated) but they had the same clause, renewal would become automatic, unless I opt out. I don't want that. I want the option to subscribe for a year (or whatever period) but not being on some automatic system. So I didn't renew.
     
  14. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    Yes, it looks like I am stuck with $140 a month for a useless ad. We put it in last year because we got a "deal" and because we had just opened the Outlet store. Now it is a total waste of money.
     
  15. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    YP.com is a specific company that used to specialize in scamming and slamming. They used to have representatives call businesses claiming that the business had a listing in the yellow pages and that they were just confirming the information. After getting confirmation from whatever unsuspecting employee or even a confused owner who thought that they were the yellow book or one book they would slam your phone bill for an ad that you didn’t want. The initial phone call was technically true because you had an unpaid ad that you also never approved or even knew about.

    Now they try to appear to be a more legitimate company but still resort to tactics like posting a bad review of your company on their website and then sending in a pretty young rep in a short, tight skirt to tell you that you can get that review hidden by taking out a paid ad. I agree with Mike that Google is where people look. To find YP.com most usually go to Google first. Be careful of YP.com, even going to their website my antivirus software gives me an alert.

    Ed
     
  16. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Good old "evergreen" contract. As Tom Waits says, "The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away."

    I'm in a somewhat similar situation locally. I cancelled everything in the printed YP except the standard free listing, which stopped my print ad billing as of this month's bill. However, they are still charging me for "internet advertising" which was part of a package deal the previous year. They claim the billing cycle for that goes until January, so that's $60 a month for another few months. The "service" is something they call "Reputation Management". They email you a monthly "executive report" showing a number of online search apps and how there "may be errors in your listing" on some of those. This service is useless, as a lot of these references seem to be for car repair services (no, we do not fix car frames) or IT services. Plus, they don't even seem to be able to find my Facebook page, which I actually DO have. I swear I will never again do any business with the Berry Company (the advertising affiliate of our local phone company.
    :kaffeetrinker_2: Rick
     
  17. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    That is why I never subscribe to anything anymore. I hang up on all telemarketers and threaten to have any sales people who walk through the door arrested for trespassing. I learned how easy it is to do that from my wife who has had to call police on people who come to her work and solicit. The last guy was dumb enough to not leave when the police showed up at her work and told him he would count to five and then use the handcuffs and take him to jail. When the cop hit the number five the guy was still arguing and ended up in jail. While they were booking him they found he had outstanding warrants for his arrest. :D
     
  18. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I assume you already sent your written notification of cancellation for next year.
     
  19. Beveled

    Beveled SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I went through this with them about 5 years ago. I ended up paying the year, and going through the written process of not renewing for the year that followed. When the advertising deadline got close, I placed a couple of follow up calls to them, making sure that they had my letter on file, and did not automatically renew it again.
     
  20. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Had a talk with my "yellow pages rep" the year he quit. He called what you experienced the car trunk contract. Told a story of a rep that threw all the contracts that he knew wouldn't renew into the trunk and left them there. They automatically renewed, he got the commissions and when they complained he was long gone. They also went up because if there are no changes, at least in my fine print, then the prices jumped to the "standard" price, not the price I had been paying.

    Dump them and never look back.
     
  21. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Negative Option Renewal is a sleezy way to retain customers that would otherwise leave. If they did not send you a notice, you can refuse to pay, which is what I would do. Then, let them come after you to collect. My guess is they won't.
     
  22. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    The finer print probably says that to cancel you have to notify them not more than 90 days and not less than 60 days before the end of the current contract.

    BTW, "fine print" always reminds me of the (near?) final scene in The Love Bug.
     
  23. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Many companies also use a different mailing address and often a separate named company requiring certified USPS mail within a short open window of time. Bunch of sleazebags. :fire:
     
  24. couture's gallery

    couture's gallery PFG, Picture Framing God

    Any company that has a "automatic renewal" or requires an "opt out" will never get my business. Been through this with the Y.P. ( Berry ) a couple years ago and fought with them for a few months over it. I refused to pay and finally they gave up and I never heard from them again. Of course we retired a year later and no longer have the phone that they threatened to " shut off". Since it was in a corporation they can't come after you personnally ( or at least they didn't).
     
  25. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Like those Girls Gone Wild dvds they used to sell on tv. ...I mean, so I've heard. ;)
     
  26. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    Exactly. We are waiting for them to mail a copy of the contract so we can figure this out. Evidently our renewal is next summer, so we have time. They told Jeff they would e-mail it and that it might go into our junk mailbox. Apropos!
     
  27. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    One benefit of using a mailed hard copy in these scams is the new powers you gain. I have an old credit card processor who gave me a contract with the owner writing no cancellation charge on the contract. Now they sell the fraudulent $250 charge to collection agencies every couple of years for 20 cents on the dollar. I have the original in my possession but won't give it a copy to any of them since I would rather they devote hundreds if not thousand to try to collect $250 that I don't owe and have proof of the fact.

    I always require anybody trying to collect it to mail by USPS to me so when I am tired of them I can threaten to turn them over for prosecution on mail & wire fraud charges. The D-bag who owns the processor then has to buy it back and hold it for a couple of years before he sells it for 20 cents on the dollar again.
     
  28. Rick Bergeron - CPF

    Rick Bergeron - CPF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    FWIW, One section of fine print on every merchant account contract that I've signed states something similar to.... "Contract terms cannot be changed without the express written permission of the acquiring financial institution named within the contract" ie: handwritten changes are not considered binding.
     
  29. Terry Scidmore CPF

    Terry Scidmore CPF MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Rick, you are so correct. Every contract I looked at when I was choosing a processor contained both of those conditions.

    One of my friends (when she first opened her processing account) had the rep cross out in the contract the items she and her husband didn't want. She also had the rep write in several items.

    When she decided to change processors, she found out the cross outs and additions meant zilch. The contract she had required her to pay $395 to cancel, and also had a clause that required her to pay $395 if she went to another processor.

    Very expensive lesson to learn.
     
  30. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Rick, I used to write and teach contract law courses for licensing purposes for several years. There are a million variables based on state laws and dollar amounts which come into play. In this case due to the dollar amount being $250 it would fall under small claims jurisdiction where the standards are much lower than other courts. The fact that I required the owner of the company to make a hand written exclusion provided me with an easy win.

    Small claims court only requires that you show what a reasonable individual would believe to be true and accurate. The owner of the company in his own hand writing making the change to the contract would cause a reasonable individual to believe the claim to override the binding clause. When the owner of the company makes these claims with no intent to honor them in order to procure a contract would cause any court to find the statement to be an unlawful inducement or a fraudulent claim in order to defraud the co-party to enter the contract. A fraudulent contract is not enforceable.

    Small claims court will almost always side with the party who had no reason to suspect the claims to be false nor expect them to retain an attorney to protect against a loss this small due to the high cost of legal advice. Most importantly once the owner of the company altered the original hand written clause in an attempt to collect such a small amount the court would consider this to be criminal intent.

    A case such as this would most likely anger a judge as to the measure of deception to the point where the judge would be inclined to rule for the party who has no legal expertise and and no reasonable belief to need to retain legal counsel before entering into such an agreement. In a case such as this it would be reasonable for the merchant to ask for compensation for time and ask for punitive damages to send a message to the to the vendor who clearly intended to deceive for financial gain. Altering the document after the fact in order to complete the deception would also show criminal intent. Mailing such a document to me would raise the level to mail fraud.

    Financial clearing houses are governed by state and federal regulators who would be inclined to fine and/or suspend the merchant service company from doing business so there is very little incentive to bring this case to court action. D&B was the first to contact me on this bogus claim and once I provided the original document they refused to continue of behalf of the company making the claim. The company in question has thousands if not tens of thousands of complaints of this type of deception against them posted on the internet. Most people would just cave in and pay the $250 which is how this individual has stolen millions from those he has conned into doing business with the company.
     
  31. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    Jeff, I listened to a radio show recently about companies buying false/fraudulent debts
    from other companies and then dogging the consumers no matter how thoroughly they
    had proven the debts were false. One concern of the affected consumers what that those
    companies had the ability to report them as delinquent, thereby lowering their credit scores.
    What's your take on this? Thanks.
     
  32. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Debt of an LLC can not be reported on a personal credit report. Furthermore there is relief available to those who are hounded for bogus debt which include preventing the future reporting of debt plus financial awards. Debt collection practices are highly regulated to the point where people have had their entire mortgage erased due to unlawful collection practice. I use to write and teach credit reporting classes as well.

    There are an enormous number of federal and state protections available to consumers that most people are not aware of and attorneys are often not well versed in these laws. Keep in mind that attorneys are often researching and learning on the job when they work outside of their specialty and charge by the hour while doing so.

    The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a fairly concise piece of legislation that I used to teach and while the language is sometimes difficult to understand at first read, it is very useful to read it a few times. All state governments have agencies that will give clear explanation but are prohibited from offering legal advice. If you ask enough questions the advice will come to you in the manner in which questions are answered. All major libraries that have law collections will do free research for nearly anything. Universities that provide law degrees offer research since it allows the students the opportunity to address real life situations.

    Any item on a credit report is required to be removed from reporting during the period it is being contested. There are law firms that offer subscription services that will contest these things on your behalf although some of these tactics are questioned as to their legality the major repositories must err on the side of caution to prevent costly fines.

    Here is a link to the PDF file

    http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/pdf-0111-fair-credit-reporting-act.pdf
     
  33. nikfrz

    nikfrz SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    The way I understand it, is many, if not most contracts you sign these days have you also sign as personal guarantor, thereby, you are liable personally if you don't make payments, and your credit score will take a significant hit.

    My yellow pages ad was a third party billing on my telephone bill. It also required a signed contract yearly to renew. Now if I chose not to pay it during that contract period, the telephone company could not shut off my phone. My monthly bill was itemized and every line item that had a star beside it indicated that my service would not be discontinued if I chose not to pay.
     
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