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AT&T Yellowpages / unfair treatment!

1 United States Review updated:
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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?

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  • Su
      2nd of Feb, 2008
    0 Votes

    AT&T Yellow Pages should be brought up on criminal charges for the way they conduct business. I don't know where you live, but in Texas, there is something called Texas Deceptive Trade Practices. Maybe you have a similar law where you live. Believe me, a letter from an attorney to them will get their attention. I would contact a lawyer because I believe that their salespeople lie just to get commissions and if that's not consumer deception, I don't know what is. I'm sure they fed you the line about how a larger ad will increase your business and how you are getting such a great deal and "freebies". When business doesn't increase and you want to reduce the size of your ad, all bets are off. Then they start telling you that an ad half the size will cost the same as the larger ad and use scare tactics by telling you that your business will fail with a smaller ad, etc., etc. If you open your business up under a new name, you will then be a new customer and will get all kinds of discounts. How's that for taking care of your loyal customers, huh? I am sick and tired of their gestapo tactics and I wish a class action lawsuit would be filed against AT&T for their practices or the US Attorney General would investigate them for their deceptive trade practices. Believe me, they don't care about you or your business, so don't ever believe any of their salespeople. They're all liars and are encouraged to do so by the corporation they work for.

  • Be
      17th of Feb, 2008
    -1 Votes

    You obviously do not know much about advertising. My father advertised with bellsouth the real yellow pages (same thing previous owner) and he is rich because of them alone. Yes, the bigger ads do work, people look at them first. You will never be a big business, because you do not promote your business big. If you hate them to much and think they are such a racket, just cancel your advertising, your business probably will fail if you aren't in the phone book.

  • Ro
      10th of May, 2008
    0 Votes

    We are a small Mom & Pop plumbing service company. We have advertised with Bellsouth, now AT&T Yellowpages since 1982. They where productive for about the first 6 years. However around 1988 they begin to produce fewer calls every year. Who knows why, maybe it's because they now have more competition or is it the internet? To recoup the great experience of those first six years we have tried every trick. Everything from small adds to larger size adds to color.
    This year I have a double truck ad (2 pages) with 3 colors in 2 books & a AT&T web site for a grand total of $8008.00 per month. No not per year, per month. I expected great things after all that much advertising should produce a lot of calls, right. Wrong it does not even keep one technician busy. In fact at the rate things are going the At&T Yellowpages may very well put us out of business. We are now in the 5th month of the contract & already we are behind 2 months. Their collection department called just last week wanting to know when we where going to send in the past due $16, 016.00. We explained that we didn't have the money because the adds just where not producing many calls. We then asked if their was any thing they could do to help us out. Their responce, sorry your under contract. It was a slap in the face & clear that they don't care about their customers. It's just about the bottom line to them. My experience, be leary of all yellow page advertising they are a dieing dinosour. Don't trust their sales reps, they are deceptive & will say anything to make the sell.
    Look to the internet to grow your business, it is what the younger generation is using & even people my age (56) are using the internet to find products & services. Keep your money in your pocket stay away from the yellowpages.

  • Be
      12th of May, 2008
    0 Votes

    I would agree with Ben from SC. If it hasn't worked since 1988, then why are you still advertising TWENTY YEARS LATER?!! I am also a plumber from the great state of North Carolina, and have been an advertiser with the real yellow pages since about 1997 when I started my company. I have tried many different ads/programs with about 3 different yellow pages to find out which ones would generate more leads for my guys. I have had everything from a regular listing to full page ads. This is what I have had for the last 4 years, and it is working very well: I have a dollar bill ad, leader ad, and an in-column ad under plumbers in 3 books. I am also on their online directory (, and have my own website that a buddy of mine built. My monthly bill is just over $4, 500 per month. The only other advertising I do are a few radio ads on a talk show station and a small google search package. I will tell you the secret of yellow pages advertising that I have discovered after 11 years. (1st) Be the dominant advertiser (2) Provide good content in the ad (3) Use RCF phone numbers to list "multiple" locations in my ad (4) Make sure there's no way that a potential customer will call my competitor in the book before he calls me. Thats it, short and simple. It took me nearly 5 years to figure out that I can't expect any results from one line listings or just in column listings. I have to say that about 90% of my new customers come from the real yellow pages, and most of my referral business comes from my new customers that originally found me in the directory. Ever since I went on dominant program about 5 years ago, I have seen a "snowball" effect with my customers, they just keep getting bigger and bigger.
    Before writing this, I called my little brother who is 26 about his usage of the phone directories. He said that he always thought that the yellow pages were dying and by the time he moved out of my parents house they wouldn't exist. I asked him if he remembered using the books in his youth or college. Flowers, car mechanic, handyman service, tux rentals, tire dealers, towing, and the locksmith headings were pretty much it for that time period. Then his lifestyle changed, he got married and bought a house. He said he has used the yellow pages so many times in the last year since his house purchase that its almost worn out. He said that he never really thought about using it more, but now that I talked with him about it he was surprised. He does use their online directory more than people my age.
    I am not saying that all businesses are successful in the yellow pages, but I think a lot are or they wouldn't still be in business. It has worked great for me, you as the advertiser need to be aggressive to get results.

  • Be
      12th of May, 2008
    0 Votes

    Just to explain my two sentences. I was trying to say that I think most businesses make a lot of money from their ads or else advertisers would just cancel and the yellow pages companies wouldn't be in business. I am very grateful for the leads that I have gotten from my AT&T real yellow pages program, I will probably end up doing more with them this year.

  • Ro
      13th of May, 2008
    0 Votes

    Chad, your line " you as the advertiser need to be aggressive to get results" sounds very much like an At&T Rep to me.

  • Be
      14th of May, 2008
    0 Votes

    I am just stating how the program has worked for me. I believe that if someone is going to advertise with the yellow pages than plain and simple that is the way to go. Before I went with a large program, I spent some time researching online and reading some articles about paid advertising. I found this book:
    I ordered one and it is a wealth of information. I ended up getting a dominant program in 3-4 different books, I got tracking numbers in each book to measure the results. If you are having problems, get this book, I think it would answer a lot of issues.

  • Se
      16th of May, 2008
    0 Votes

    You are a whore.

  • Be
      30th of May, 2008
    0 Votes

    hmmm...thats mature. Its good to see people of your maturity getting out. Good day

  • Ro
      1st of Jun, 2008
    0 Votes

    Chad, it is apparent that you are just another AT&T Slick Willie.
    Why else would anyone go to an AT&T complaint board & try to justify all the negative comments. You are transparent.
    AT&T is guility of misleading & deceptive trade practices. Which is against the law in every state I know of. Maybe an attorney will pick-up on this & start a class action law suit against them.
    They should pay for crushing the dreams of so many small business who fell for all their lies.
    Band together everyone. Together we become stronger. Post your experiences with AT&T.
    I personally plan to voice my concerns to the Better Buisness Bureau, The Georgia State Of Consumer Affairs & The World Wide Web.

  • Be
      1st of Jun, 2008
    0 Votes

    Roger- I would say you are a competitor of AT&T, and thats why you are checking on this forum and trashing them- you are transparent...thats pretty lame. Think what you may, thats fine. I felt like I have a right to post my positive experience with this company, just as much as you do your bad experience. If AT&T were ripping everyone off like you think they are, they wouldn't be printing book after book every year. ahhh...but you know better.

  • Kj
      9th of Jun, 2008
    0 Votes

    Service at ATT Yellow Pages are terrible and they refuse to correct errors. They are sorry as hell but you need them. They know that. They have no real competition is why they can get away with such poor service. If you can do without them, please do yourself a favor and never use yellow page advertising.

  • St
      10th of Jun, 2008
    0 Votes

    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.

  • Lo
      14th of Jul, 2008
    0 Votes

    First, Chad is definitly an AT&T Premise or Sales Rep!!! "...real yellowpages...generate more leads... dollar bill ad, leader ad, and an in-column ad ...dominant program in 3-4 different books... tracking numbers in each book to measure the results" . All of this is AT&T lingo!!! I work for the same company doing and saying the same thing daily, so I know. Oh and the 'change of lifestyle" story incorporating new movers' phone book habits?! Classic. Forgive Chad folks. He's just trying to keep his job.

  • Er
      25th of Nov, 2008
    0 Votes

    I dont work for AT&T, but I do work for a competitor. I have heard stories about their business practices and I also have a lot of reliable sources that can verify them. The difference between them and us is that we have to follow our customers year after year. Meaning that if I sell a program to a customer for $500 a month, the next year I have to be able to renew that customer for at least that amount. If they decide to cancel, I will have that taken back out of my commision that I was originally paid for. So that means that we have to sell you only what we know will work. We have so much tracking information with all the different products we have (Yellow Pages, Direct Mail, Search Engine Marketing, Internet Yellow Pages, Magazines) that it is very easy to see where your type of business would benefit the most. AT&T reps do not have this same format. They can sell you an $8000 a month program and tell you all kinds of stories about what it will do for you, but the truth is that he/she doesnt have to worry about it the following year. They dont care if you can afford it or not. They got paid and thats all that matters. We make sure that it is going to work before we sell it and look forward to talking with you throughout the year to see what else we can do for you and your business.

  • Jo
      26th of Nov, 2008
    0 Votes

    I am a new business owner in Los Angeles County, and have been trying to start a decorating business using AT&T advertising. Two years ago I contacted them to design a small yellow pages ad, to my specifications. Before the ad was published for a year AT&T agreed to send me a "proof" (which was a picture of the exact ad to be printed) but the failed to send me the proof. When I contacted them about the proof to my surprise they said they had already printed an ad for my company. I said what do you mean I didn't receive a proof, I didn't approve the ad. Well you are being billed for it this month, I said I didn't approve the ad & I didn't even get a book to see what the ad looks like. I then decided to pick up the book personally from them. To my dismay the ad was all wrong! It listed services that I don't do, did not list the services I do perform, printed the wrong art work & didn't even list my bonding or license number. So then after discussing the problems with ad with a customer service at AT&T, I gracisouly agreed to pay only 35% of the orginal ad cost. Because the only thing they got correct in the ad was the phone number & company name, otherwise I wouldnt have agreed to paying anything. After little to no results from the ad, I was informed by a friend who had experience in a small business world that it is illegal to run a business without a lincense. So that year was a total lose, but I knew I needed to advertise somehow. And AT&T had the biggest advertisement on the west coast, much bigger then Verizon & Yellow book. And by this time they had already contacted me again to apologize for the past problems that they created, & they were going to make it up to me if I went with them again. Plus the misprint of the ad was a once in a million mistake. They said to make it up to me they would include full color plus many other extras, including 75% discount on a half page ad. Well I went for it, I had no other choice at the time, because of previous bad year. It was my last chance at the business & I wanted to make it happen. A month & half later I was suppose to receive new color proofs of my new ad. And once again I heard nothing from them. So I contacted them to find out the status of my ad. And guess what...not only did they print the ad without sending me the proofs (which had many changes including a new phone number), they printed the original misprinted ad of the year before. My only logical conclusion was that because the yellow pages aren't being used as much as they use to, that the advertising department of AT&T, is not only uncommited to customers but their goal from beginning is only actually a percentage of what they contract for. They basically gave up on the commitment to print a quality product. Compromising for a uncostly collection agency instead. Because of them purposely ruining my ad I am unable to continue the attempt at a decorating business. And am now in the process of suing AT&T because after to agreeing to total dismissel of all charges they started billing me 4months later 50% of a full years half page ad. I call this the percentage scam & I welcome any other people who have been damaged by AT&T advertisement in this or a similar way to contact me in my pursuit of a class action suit. Or anyone who can relate a similar story for my present case.

  • Sc
      2nd of Dec, 2008
    0 Votes

    Oh Yes we have experienced basically the same problems as you Joe with AT&T. For the last 4 or 5 years they have managed to screw up on our advertising in some way. This past year was the icing on the cake though and I have already posted that complaint here but to get to your complaint in 2006 The AT&T Saleswoman called to sell advertising in the book the deadline was coming up quick to get it done and I told her no I didn't want to advertise in the book. She called again and spoke to my husband and he went for it, he specified several changes in the ad and it was recorded on a voice verified contract.
    We were also suppose to receive an email of the proof before it went to print, but didn't get one so we called they sent the email proof and it was exactly the same as the year before. So we called to complain( they informed us that the saleswoman was no longer with them) they offered the ad at half price. My husband settled for that.
    Every year it's a different salesperson who calls, except this year. This year I sent them a certified letter that I DID NOT WANT TO ADVERTISE WITH THEM ANY LONGER. I do know one thing the salesmen will say anything to make a sale and then they hide behind AT&T to protect them, what a crock, huh.

  • Gr
      5th of Dec, 2008
    0 Votes

    Hello, I too sold yellow pages for over 20 years. I was told that I was necessary evil sales rep! Year after year I would go to the businesses I sold only to find out they went out of business because their advertising program was so expensive There is an alternative to advertising,

  • Bi
      20th of Dec, 2008
    0 Votes

    I run a small but relatively well marketed roofing company in the northern Ohio area. My experience with ATT has been abominable. They bold faced lied to me regarding call volume of other customers, tried to sell me another ridiculously expensive line in order to "track" the calls. Fortunately I have Vonage now, which has been great, 4 lines $76 bucks total, vs ATT one line constantly mischarged and always in need of extensive bill monitoring at about $150. Do the math. ATT is a dying dinasaur, they are a corporate beauracratic disaster area that hopefully will get swallowed whole by there growing list of formidable competitor, most of which would have been bite-sized snacks for them even 10 years ago. Ha-ha, I guess that what you get for being a bloated pig. I even have close ties to people who work there, the place may as well be another Detroit automaker. I can't tell you how many times the phrase "class action lawsuit" dribbled across even my feeble brain. It has to be a matter of time. The M.O. is always the same, and the BS from these sales reps is always the same.

    Anyway, as far as response from the book goes. He it is - this is the dead-nuts truth. I installed one job last year as the result of a half page ad in several of regional books, total price well over $2000/mo, yeah that's right per month! The ad was actually quite nicely done, and we have a very friendly and comprehensive web-site to go with it, that gets calls coming in with consistentcy when channeled through other sources, i.e. Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc. My closing ratio this year was 28%. The call volume was like this about a call every month or two from a true prospect customer, about 80 calls from other people seeking to spend our advertising money, roughly the same number in from people looking for a job. The other who knows how many waste of time calls came from, spaced in random order: Insurance sales, charitable organizations (who clearly must know that you have money to just BLOW to be in the ATT book to begin with), and anyther sales rep I didn't already mention, I'm blathering on.

    The point is the book suck, and if it was ever good I wish I had seen those days. Candidly, from my perspective, it was a horrible waste of money, and there not a chance in the world that I would do it again. The web is coming on way too strong, and my results are so much better, so much easier to track, control, and manipulate, and the cost is pennies by comparison, hell less than that. Cheap cheap. Also, if a web campaign bombs you can change it, cancel it, etc, in my case anyway, and even if a campaign totally tanks it won't even affect my weekend. I wish I had seen this forum last year before making that decision which I was putting a great deal of faith behind. Bottom line is if you don't want ATT on your payroll, and they are fat, needy, and innept, don't do the book. If you've read this, and you still make the leap, check back in here next year and pay it forward so someone else's kids aren't having a crappy Christmas.

    I hope this is of some use to some good person out there. Have a great new year of business everyone!


  • Na
      25th of Jan, 2009
    0 Votes

    We too are in the middle of a mess with AT&T web page advertising. They sold us a web page and search engine. We thought it was pretty expensive, but the rep told us we would get 250 hits a month. We are a very capable pest control company with good prices, so we figured we would be able to sell to most callers, as this is the case with the calls we do receive.
    Well, designing the web site was a nightmare, we had to rewrite most of the copy. It was put up a month late. Many of the features didn't work. Requested corrections were slow or non-existent.
    they also promised us that we would be on the first page. They didn't tell us that they considered the first page to be the first 50 sites!

    The key words were not helpfull, and requests to change them unanswered. The ad was very ineffective, we put a program on the site to monitor clicks. We were getting eight or nine per month. We complained and they blamed the lack of activity on the content of our web site. Their answer to the number of clicks per month, "eventually 250 clicks a month"

    I could go on and on. We tried to cancel the website as we couldn't afford unproductive advertising. As many of you did, we made our own new website. We got much more traffic and it cost us considerably less with other companies. The added bonus is having control over our website, its content, key words etc.

    As you all probably know, AT&T advertisings response to our request to take down the website, was "you signed the contract, you owe the money." The do not consider their product defective or ineffective.

    They are acting like big bullies. I wrote a letter to their VP, (certified) with no response at all. It appears to me that they think they are so big that they don't have to do a good job, or be honest in their sales presentations. They are living off the small print in their contracts, this won't last forever. I am also reminded of the history of the american auto makers. They seem to be forgetting about their market and their customers.

    We have been in business for over 22 years and this is the first time We have ever not paid a bill. It is not how we do things. they have turned us over to collections for an additional 4k. We have always had perfect credit, this really hurts, but were not going to pay it. Any body have any good solutions? 64dc1

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