I started advertising with Bellsouth Yellowpages a few years ago. Last year they were absorbed by AT&T. In March, I was contacted about renewing my advertising and increasing my internet exposure with more of their products. I had no increase in business for the previous year, but thought that it might help to do as they suggested. The salesman assured me that I could cancel prior to the start of the new contract- November 1. In September, after a brutal year, I called to cancel and was told that I would have had to have called within 30 days of signing. I called a few "customer service" numbers and got nowhere. I finally got to someone who was helpful and she gave me the number for our local sales manager. He told me that he would research whether there were any grounds for terminating the contract (non-performance or lack of response by the original salesman seemed to be the only possibilities; neither seemed provable). I paid the last installment of my 2007 contract- 60 days late... business was so bad. Today I got a call telling me I owed two months in the new contract. I told them I wasn't going to pay it- I had offered compromises after asking to cancel (said I'd pay for print or a reduced internet program) and they had rejected or ignored me. I'm not willing to bankrupt my business to pay for worthless advertising.
I just left a message for the sales manager. I'm going to ask him one more time to do something. If he doesn't, I'm considering taking the story to a local consumer advocate and publishing more details of this story on the www. I can't afford the lawyer if they sue me, so the choice is that or shut down the business and start again under a new name. Just great how much they care about helping their customers, eh?
I'm the OP.
I have no doubt that there are some people who have done well advertising with the AT&T (or any) online YellowPages.
But I'm [still] a small business owner. I am not getting enough business from the YP to get EVEN on a $450/month investment (and they wanted to raise my rates to over $620/month this year). You guys are talking about it taking thousands of dollars a month- my gross revenue last year was around $300K. You think that I should have to put 10-20% or more of that out for one advertising source? That's about what my profit margin is! So my first year, my sales have to DOUBLE to get even. Not likely.
I've already defaulted on my contract for this year and I'm surprised that I've only gotten one call from their collections department. I'm not going to post the details of my last conversation or correspondence until my business with them is complete. I'm not going to do any name-calling. Yet.
I tend to agree with the opinions that legal action won't get anywhere- and will probably cost more than paying the bills. Even a win or settlement would mean years of legal action just to get paid and they'd probably continue their actions until then. I don't have that time or money and they do.
While they don't have much competition in the print YP, there is plenty of good competition in the online services field. I've been contacted by agencies that are willing to do much more, be held accountable and charge much less. Unfortunately, I can't afford their services until I get rid of these jokers.
I will post more when I finally get some resolution.