We've all been victims of FUD — fear, uncertainty, and doubt. It's a shady tactic and one that I hope most people see through.
But about once a year, towards the beginning of the summer, the Yellow Pages rep comes calling to my clients. Some of my clients have been advertising with the Yellow Pages for years and are seeing less and less of a return on their (rather significant) investment. They’re thinking about having a smaller ad, or no ad at all. Yellow Pages does not release demographic statistics, but it’s common knowledge that consumers 30 and younger generally search online or ask their friends for business recommendations.
The Yellow Pages reps always tell my clients the same stories but they’re getting more insistent in recent years. Their FUD runs along these lines:
1. We are the only authorized Google AdWords reseller in Canada.
There’s two parts to this. First, it implies that being a Google AdWords reseller is better than a consultant who works with AdWords. That’s absolutely not true. You do not receive better rates by working with a reseller — if anything, it costs more and they provide you with less reporting. Secondly, they are not the only authorized Google AdWords reseller in Canada.
2. Having a listing on the Yellow Pages will improve your rank on Google.
Nope. Check out a Yellow Pages listing. You’ll see that the link to the website is actually something like http://www.yellowpages.ca/gourl/http://www.yourcompany.com – that means that the link actually is a redirect from the Yellow Pages site, not a true link to your site. It may pass along some link value but it’s of low value.
3. The Yellow Pages website gets more traffic than Google!
Absolutely not. I think the below chart (from Alexa, a well-regarded provider of competitive website statistics) will paint the real picture. I’ve included canpages.ca for comparison purposes.
4. We have special ways of making your site show up on Google — no one else can do that.
They’re talking about pay-per-click advertising here. I’ll tell you their secret — they’re using the local business options available to any AdWords advertiser. Nothing secret there, just knowing what boxes to click.
And worst of all…
5. If you cancel your ad with us, your ranking will go down on Google.
An absolute lie. Ask them for proof – how will this happen? Ask for specific examples. In my experience, I have not seen any detrimental ranking effects when a client has canceled or downgraded their Yellow Pages listing. If anything, they can improve their reach because of the money they saved!
I’ve been discussing these issues with other web developers on Twitter for a couple of weeks and if the folks at Yellow Pages even noticed, they haven’t said anything. If Yellow Pages was as web-savvy as they claim, they would have picked up on the Twitter mentions by now and gotten in touch.
I’ll save the importance of monitoring Twitter for another post, but if you’re not paying attention to what is being said about you (or your competition) on the web, you’re missing out on serious opportunities. And it says a thing or two about your ability to compete on the web.
I don’t think Yellow Media is going down anytime soon. They are an invisible local advertising behemoth with 1.5 million business listings under it’s belt that are ready to be serviced for hyper local online advertising. They also have over 2200 media consultants spread out across Canada selling the same online media services that you offer. By this I mean, pure SEO/SEM, “groupon type” coupons, website design services and HD video advertising that gets SEO’d across the web. Print is becoming a secondary issue as they morph into what is already Canada’s largest Internet company. Not even Google can field that many expert media consultants. I also find it quite interesting that the Google Maps in Canada would be quite useless without the Yellow Pages feeding them 99% of their listings with the most up to date information on them.
Take a look at their smartphone apps for Iphone, Blackberry and Android. Most people in Canada with a smart phone now use this free app. The Ipad app is amazing. With one touch you can get all the local advertising that you could want. Apps like POYNT also use Yellows database of information.
This has become one of my top apps on my iphone and ipad. Cheers!
“Most people in Canada with a smart phone now use this free app.” in reference to the YP app.
You sure about that? Got any data to back this up? I’d be very happy to see this so i could advise my clients on the this 🙂
Also, i agree that YPG isn’t going anywhere, and they do supply Google Local Business with data, but i just cant go along with business practices like this. FUD is never the way to go and as in Internet company, they should be the first to know.
Ahhh, Dana. I’m glad to see another has picked up the gauntlet and is valiantly fighting for the defeat of the yellow bullshit.
My particular favourite is when Yellow Pages reps claim to have “merged” with Google. I contacted Google directly about that one. I thought it would be funny if I asked them for the official press release about it.
I have written 2 blog posts now on this crap and tweeted incessantly. Yellow Pages did actually contact me after I left a comment under a press release about YP on MarketingMag.com They absolutely do not monitor their social media but they do check up on their more prominent press releases.
Check out my latest post on SEO benefits (or lack thereof) to having a Yellow Pages ad. You may get a laugh out of it and it might be of interest to your more nervous clients.
Does Online Advertising in YellowPages.ca Improve Google Ranking? http://bit.ly/emVa6E
Keep up the good work. Nice to know we’re not alone. And it’s great to know that Yellow Pages is soooooo clueless about SEO, articles slamming them rank instantly. How do you think I found you?
No YPG is not going down anytime soon. They’ve amassed a fortune off the backs of SMBs.
Yes yes, at one point they did provide them with a return however their greed and ego made them complacent and caught them asleep at the wheel.
You do know that everything you mentioned that they do “for” these SMBs, websites, HD video etc- ALL belongs to YPG and not the business owners. So they again strong arming the little guy into staying with them, having them become dependent on them and thus providing the fuel for their continuous FUD tactics.
They have the business listings, I get it. I use Poynt and its a great, useful tool. However, it wasn’t YPs solution and by no means is it generating SMBs any sort of relevant income.
They call themselves Canada’s largest Internet company? They’re a print company still trying to become an internet company, plain and simple.
They could have easily, EASILY become a credible and valuable asset to SMBs across Canada if they weren’t so greedy. No reason why Yellowpages.ca couldn’t have taken on the form of a Yelp! No reason why they couldn’t have white labelled their HD video and given the client’s ownership, no reason why they couldn’t have been designing real websites for them and doing SEO, no reason why they couldn’t have created a proper PPC program that drove and tracked results to their client’s ACTUAL websites rather then directing people to their print ads on yellowpages.ca.
They spent billions of dollars (2.5 to be exact) to acquire Superpages in 2005 (?) simply to gain a monopoly on the Canadian market with directories. Talk about shortsighted. Now they’re desperately trying to position themselves as an internet industry authority by preying on the uninformed local business and preying on their reliance on them. “Canada’s largest Internet Company” that can’t properly run PPC campaigns and doesn’t even monitor Twitter? Humorous.
They have the means to be a GREAT asset to the Canadian internet industry and Canadian businesses. The ability to be a respected internet company but like anything, you have to earn it. YP is simply trying to buy it. Get rid of the old (*cough, Marc Tellier) and inject some fresh thinking and new approach to selling.
My 2 cents.
Bob sounds like an YP employee,
I know, I used to be one. Inside the company walls they feed us the rhetoric daily. Whenever I questioned the data compilations or asked what are the strategies for remaining competitive I was shut down. For example using an ad company they own Mediative ( reps can’t sell for Mediative) stats and allowing them to appear as Yellow pages stats. Um maybe I am wrong but I would say that is very misleading.
The reality is things are changing, and they like Blackberry, Yellow Pages are behind the times and show no real signs of catching up. They had the pieces in place to be a market leader. Their profit margin on the old print products was high, and they had little competition ( Canpages took a big chunk so they bought them too) so they are trying to hold on to it and milk it for as long as they can and maintain their share value. Web products have a much smaller margin and are offered everywhere. They began their transition far too late, their own sales reps have been begging for good web products for years but were told “prints not dead, get out and sell”. Whenever a company thinks marketing and salesmanship can overcome poor product development they are in trouble. Just ask Blackberry. Seriously Blackberry, try making a phone that doesn’t suck, everybody else seems to be able to do it.
When Yellow Pages did release web products they were behind the market, buggy and over priced.
They boast about website sales, they never mention how many of those 10,000 websites sold in the first 6 months were actually online and working (it was in the hundreds).
Imagine going in to renew a customer when the website you sold him 6 months ago is still not working and online, try and spin that to a customer that trusted you Marc Tellier.
” They’re a print company still trying to become an internet company, plain and simple.
They could have easily, EASILY become a credible and valuable asset to SMBs”
I totally agree, even a moron could see the transition coming. With a huge sales force, strong brand identity, existing customer relationships, etc,etc they could have been at the forefront of web/online directories and SMB marketing. Now with the market crowded they are arriving too little too late. Don’t pat yourself on the back for growth by comparing yourself to other company’s failing to transition as well.
Here is a great article.
I will say working for them was very frustrating, my customers trusted me and often bought based on my word, unfortunately Yellow Pages usually failed to deliver. I enjoy helping businesses grow and market themselves, Yellow Pages was not the place for me to do that.
I will say that unless some MAJOR changes are made Yellow Pages Media will not make it in the next edition of Jim Collins – GOOD TO GREAT. The Yellow Pages story is a perfect fit for a follow up if Sydney Finkelstein does a follow up to his great book WHY SMART EXECUTIVES FAIL.
No I do not receive anything to promote those books, I just wish Marc had read them a few years ago.
Finally I cancelled all the ads with YPG, a great saving of thousand dollars a year. Their online ads is useless, and their services were awful. No more wasting money on Yellow Pages, business owners!
YP advertising in print, or online, is an enormous waste of money. The company salespersons deliberately mislead when selling their “service”, usually to administrators who dont’ really understand what they’re signing up for. The cost for these services are ridiculous – $1000 a year to have your name appear in Bold in a print directory. $500 per month for a oneline-listing at YP.ca which (in our case), appreard about 300 items down in the category. The contract deliberately says nothing on cancellation on the customers’ part (which they interpret as no cancellation possible) but rambles on about unilateral cancellation on their part. It took months of endless calls and stalling on YP part to cancel some of our “services”. This shady operation is one giant rip-off.
Thanks for this article. I am going to link it on my web site. Beyond the issues you mentioned, there is also the harassment and horrible service Yellow Pages provides. They harass my clients making the same claims mentioned in your article. Then once they are in a contract provide horrible service. I had one new client that told me she had been trying to get them to update the phone number on the Google Business listing YP setup for over a year. I wish there was a way that your article could show up on any Yellow Pages related search. It’s generally too late by the time my clients come to me looking for work because they have fallen for this crap. Thanks.
Great post! Couldn’t agree more. More and more business owners come out with YP horror stories. Spending thousands of dollars in advertising with YP gets them nothing but telemarketing phone calls. Which YP proudly puts in the leads column.
Thank you for speaking up on this rising issue Dana!
Dana, If I already have a yellow page website and decide to build another one myself with a different domain name, will it be detrimental to my business as far as SEO ranking with google? What is the best course of action, because my google ranking with the yellow page site is horrible.
So… how do I cancel my contract with YP? For all the reasons mentioned above, I want out of my contract before it gets renewed for another year. Any advice?
Hello! This is a very usefull post! I want to explain you my situation and see what you think. I have an online store, I’m not good with publicity on internet so i decided to try Yellow Pages. They offer me a lot of “listings in different web pages” with a contract of one year but when i checked my analytics i saw i got cero traffic thanks to Yellow Pages so i decided to cancel the contract since i’m paying for nothing plus i’m closing the store, also i saw the famous web pages that they use to list my web site and honestly i never saw that web sites before. But now they want to force me to pay the montly fee until the end of the year even if i don’t use it!!! It’s there a way to avoid this? I would appreciate a LOT your opinion. Have a good day!
Hi I have been paying for YP ad for a number of years and debating to cancel my contract. My contract renewed end of august this year and they renewed it automatically, even though I spoke to them and asked to give me a day to decide if I am renewing. Due to some personal issues I am currently dealing with I totally forgot. I got the bill this morning and contacted YP, they said I have a limited time to cancel my renewal. My question: I am not getting the traffic I thought I would from my ad so I wanted to check what page I would be found on google from my YP link, I can’t find it. How would I go about searching for this YP ad? I am not very internet minded. thanks
Has anyone else been tricked into a contract with yellow pages? They offered our new business a 30 day free trial when we started up in the spring. We asked specifically that we would not have to sign up for a contract for the trial. We had refused their offer on many calls before since out business is only open for 6 months of the year and they only had a 12 month contract. The sales rep assured us it was just a trial and they would let us know how much their service helped us at the end and if we were happy would could sign up for the contract then. They started the recording after that conversation and locked us into a 12 month contract, with no free month, for a total of over $3000. If talked to senior managers and numerous other staff and they hold on tight to that recording being a valid contract and there is no way for us to cancel. I have one other business so far that had the same tactic used on them. I’m looking for more people out there with this experience. I want to fight this and the more of us the better.
Great article Dana, I hadn’t realized that YP was up to this type of marketing. Good Info!
Stephanie. I am dealing with the same issue. I asked if he could call me back in 3 month, gave me some nonsense on how in order for him to call me back he needs my consent even tho i had asked him to stop calling me yet he called almost daily. After i agreed for him to call me back he used that as me agreeing to the contract and started charging me 3 months later with no phone call like we agreed upon. I tried talking to management but the numbers i get aren’t connected and when i finally get one that works I am forced to leave a message and they never get back. For some reason they can’t send me auto that works. I have a Mac and they say it won’t work on a mac. these are there people who are suppose to set something up on a computer yet they can’t use one. Does anyone know if a voice recording is an actual binding contract even when they refuse to prove it?
Hey. We are in a very similar situation to some of the last commenters. After asking them how they got our business name and info (surprise: Google!) they went on and managed to get a “yes I agree” recording from something we said… When we were surprised with an e-bill for $55 we sent an email saying we had not made a contract. They emailed back a couple weeks later with a recording of us “agreeing” to a year long contract. Are they editing voice recordings?? We sent a letter by registered mail today to say that they must immediately cancel any contract they have with our business as we had no intention of getting into a contract with them and won’t be paying. Will this work, do you think?
So YP contacted me offering to put me at the top of the local search . Blah blah blah . Not one call. Don’t get me wrong … if I got business off YP I would pay monthly , but as a small business owner , paying yellow pages is like paying an employee that’s supposed to make you money just to sit around all day: so I’m avoiding them. Until I see results . Has anyone been threatens they’re going to involve a lawyer and I’ll be paying the court fees ? That’s where I’m at as of right now .
I just had an incredibly uncomfortable time with YP’s collections today. They tell me I had verbally agreed to a new contract extension. The collections guy I spoke with told me there was nothing conclusive about my recorded agreement so it was going to a higher contract monitoring dept. (or something like that) It might take 2-3 weeks to find out if I had indeed agreed verbally to take the contract. My contract was coming up Feb 1st and I had been discussing with them for a few months changes I wanted to make, category changes and company name & detail changes. I had been wasting $23 month last year with them. Over the past few months we were discussing details while I kept asking my new rep to give me alternative pricing for the different levels, she keep coming back to the package I had @ $55. saying I had discussed and agreed to take with some other sales rep a few months ago on the phone. Quoting her on one one email: “You’ve agreed to a package of OBST2” I was thinking all the while we would get to a conclusion amicably like most business dealings. I thought he was giving me options and we were discussing them initially a few months ago. No where was I informed my conversion or our discussion was legally binding. They are telling me like everyone here that I agreed verbally to the $55 month contract. Making matters worse is that most of the companies in my category above me (mississauga decks) I doubt are paying anything. Top website has no details and is deleted. They have no customers, that is why the big adverts lately for companies to join Yellow Pages free.
I would like to contribute money if you would like to get some adwords going on this article you wrote. There must be more people in this situation. I think YP are in trouble and this is their last fight using real tough ‘cookies’ to get the contracts in.
This was thankfully the only article I found. Comforting in a strange way to read these other similar comments in a way.
This is really terrible business for such a high profile company.
I had no idea who I was dealing with! They were different last year and the years before that.
Allow my contact info to anyone with ideas to fight this.
Thank you all so much!
Someone claiming to be from Yellow Pages Group called my client, asking for ~ $450. This was after registering for the “free” listing. I immediately thought it was a scam. After doing some research, even if does turn out to be “legit”, it still qualifies as a scam in my books!
Anyway, I asked my client to cancel/reverse the payment. Should we be expected some BS like has been mentioned here already?
Good stuff right here Dana. YP is seriously the worst. As an SEO myself, it’s very hard to talk local businesses out of using YP when the company uses such misleading business practices. I can’t tell you how much clients I’ve missed out on because of the domain name contract.
The very fact that YP rents out websites and doesn’t actually give the owner control is enough for me to consider them a dying company. Looking forward to the day that it shuts down, but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be coming anytime soon.
How do you deal with a potential client with a YP site? Just wait until the contract expires, or go ahead and make them another site? Would be great to hear how you handle it.
Thanks for the reply. We’ll see how it goes. The “verbal contract” seems to be in conflict with the existing contract I already have with my client. Also, my client was confused, thinking the call was related to my work. I’ve filed a complaint with the BBB, and will also file a complaint with the provincial consumer protection agency.
I’ll never do any business with YPG or its subsidiaries ever again!
We too fell victim to YP’s FUD Gestapo tactics. Advertising with them for a year with little to no noticeable results. At renewal time we were aggressively lured into a renewal and upgraded package with promises of more traffic to our web site. Disputing with customer service on several occasions saying that we agreed to something which in fact we did not; saying that they had recorded verbal proof of a commitment to them and there was no getting out of another annual contract. We asked for a copy of these ‘recording’s so we can validate this ‘proof’ which they never did supply. Long story short, we will never advertise with YP’s again. A years’ worth of wasted advertising budget for next to no results. Very unprofessional company. In the end you are paying for customers to ‘proxy’ threw their web presence. YP’s has become a dinosaur trying to avoid sinking into the inevitable tar pit of their demise. Avoid like the plague.
This group at YP are a complete joke.I would like to know how you get out of this contract.Now they have a different phone # saying it’s call tracking for us to know how many call are coming in.I have had this business for 15 years and everyone knows the #.I said I don’t want this number up and don’t want this service.No where on there recording does it say anything about the contract would this be renewed.I can not even get a straight answer of when the contract started.They say get hold of [email protected] there legal team.Is there more people out there that would like to go public on these jokers.Thanks D
Well thank you very much for a well written article. Using the information from the OP and all the people submitting comments, I was able to very effectively put YP in their place. Just one letter is all it took. if anyone is looking for pointers, just ensure you state right at the start that you are dissatisfied with the product/service, and not satisfied with a very poor ROI. Also state that their sales tactics are very vague, and the most effective (For those who YP created a “Landing Page” for) is to state that they failed to put webmaster contact information on the “page/Site” to report errors and omissions. No fuss or fight from them. Compliance in less than 48 hours. Good luck to all!
Hi Dana, thanks for your blog. I am so ticked off right now. As a small service company with no real website experience and zero budget to hire someone, we got suckered by yellow pages. They offered free website and promised the world all for a contracted $900 per month. Well, we got very free responses for a year and things got so bad that we couldn’t pay our phone bill and cancelled our phone service. It ended up ok in the end. Handled the ph # change and a lady in the office put a website together and did her own SEO and we are now getting 10-15 times more web responses. We learned a very valuable lesson. DONT USE YELLOW PAGES. THEY ARE USELESS!!!
I recently sent an email regarding a major issue regarding Yellow Pages business practices to the consumer protection gov. BC.
I was contacted over 30 times to advertise with this company.
The sales rep used Extremely high pressure sales tactics to finally get me to say yes.
Was made to agree to a verbal contract over the phone even after saying I wanted to have them send me a email stating what I would get.
Was told I would get 30 or more calls from this advertising. (Didn’t get one call or hit in my SEO)
Couldn’t find my advertising on-line or on their website.
Told them I felt under extreme pressure as a new business owner to work with them and told them to stop calling many again over 30 times.
I was in a meeting with a client and strapped for time when I got the final call and felt under duress when I finally said yes but wanted to see what I would get first.
Also was told I would be on the first page and again never could even find my advertising
I was also never given a log in to right description so on.
Please respond back to me via email and look forward to speaking to someone.
Subsequently they have taken me to collects and and again harassing my company with 5 calls a day.
Looking into legal action as now they have sent my company to colections for over $3500.00
Let me know if anyone has experienced this type of business practice, and what else I can do?
We are having the same trouble with yellow pages taking something we said and putting into a verbal contract. Numerous phone calls and emails and they won’t cancel it
We never agreed to any of their advertising. I have been battling with them since October 2016. Anyone have any luck getting them to stop billing and cancel contract?
Sometime in March, I was contacted by these guys….
Let it be known:
Sales rep did NOT explain price per month of service, how long service would be, did NOT mention a ‘oral contract’ nor the length of the contract.
I said that I would NOT be looking to purchase anything at this time and that was when he suggested that I did not have to pay anything until April 15 and would only have to pay after that if I decided to go ahead with the service. In that respect, I agreed…basically he made it sound like I could cancel anytime before the ad was posted. He asked me what my business name would be and so on and so on…
Got an email saying my ad was going up on April 15, to my surprise. So I phoned customer service to request cancelling the ad.
1st customer service rep said I couldn’t cancel, even though I requested, and said I had been locked into an oral contract even though the sales rep (who made no mention of such a contract, nor a price or length) told me that I would not have to pay anything until April 15 and I had that time to decide if I wanted the services. She told me to hold the line while she listened to my initial conversation with the sales rep. She got back 2 min later, (my conversation with the sales rep was approximately 10-15 mins) and said that I had indeed been asked by the sales rep if I ‘agreed’ to the terms and conditions and that I had said ‘yes’. This is not only a fabrication, but a blatant lie as he made no mention of terms of conditions to me and did not request that I review them or ask if I wished to hear them. She said she would send me a copy of the recording.
2nd CSR said that the 1st put a cancellation in for next year 2018, but I would still be liable for the 12 months. She again said she would listen to the conversation I had with the sales rep, got back to me 2 mins later and this time she said that the sales rep indeed mentioned the price, length, and conditions of oral contract. Absolutely a blatant lie! I told her that I was not made aware of a contract, nor the price or length of contract and that as an uninformed individual, a verbal contract was not possible. She said she would have her sales rep phone me, I declined and said I wanted the manager. She said it would take 2 business days for the manager to get back to me. I never received a call back. I also never received a copy of the recording that they said they would email, as well.
It also should be noted that I do not own a business, they contacted me via an ad I put up on kijiji looking for side jobs. I am not licensed to do business in my jurisdiction, nor am I registered. I do not possess a GST number…I did not provide them with any payment information, nor did I provide them with my address…but yet somehow, someway, just today, I got my first invoice for $75 dollars. 🙁
Hello everyone. I wrote on this wall a while ago and see yp is still scamming.
I was tricked in to agreeing to this contract. Their tech personal was unable to get me a recording i could open on my mac… I know right… They gave me a phone number that was not connected. Then after I called back the rep denied it was till she finally dialled it herself. She then told me she will leave a message and he would call me back. Still waiting now at 375 days. I then got a call from the ” legal department”. I told them I was tricked in to agreeing and that the ENTIRE CONTRACT was not read to me WORD for WORD. Which I’m pretty sure is how these contract thingys are suppose to work. They left me alone after that!!!! Until yesterday. They want to take me personally to small claims. I closed my business months ago it was a limited company. They are still advertising it. I don’t know about you but if someone isn’t paying for my services I no longer provide them. Anyways. I’m lawyered up now and I want to see what can be done about this. I’ll let you all know what happens.
I have been working in the SEO and website industry for many years now and have seen many things and I have to say that a lot of smaller SEO/Website agencies are just as bad if not worse than Yellow Pages in some cases. I have seen them charge many thousands of dollars for a website for a small business that is practically useless.
As a small business owner these days you can build and optimize your own website for a fraction of what yellow pages, SEO’s, and other agencies charge. You just have to educate yourself.
I also own a small business myself and advertise online with YP and I do get leads from them. I can show you emails from people who have found me from yellowpages.ca. It’s not many because we don’t spend a lot with them but in order to be successful these days the reality is that we need to make sure our business is found everywhere. I also built and optimized my own page 1 ranking website for less than $100.00 with hosting for only $10.00 per month. Like I said all you need to do is educate yourself. There is a learning curve but once you have it you are good to go.
As for people complaining about getting locked into a contract due to shady sales tactics, I have to say that, while there are many sales people these days who “embellish” what they have to offer due to targets on their own backs, perhaps it was also your greed that may have helped you get into the contract in the first place. If an offer sounds too good to be true then don’t buy it. Research what they are offering and then make sure you are comfortable with your decision about going forward with them with your eyes wide open. I have yet to meet a sales rep that tells the whole truth and nothing but the truth..LOL!
I also seriously doubt that an organization that has probably been around for over a hundred years would still be in existence if all they did was scam people everyday.
I have to say that I researched their new website offering and it looks very solid and certainly is very competitive in the industry.