We’ve all been victims of FUD — fear, uncertainty, and doubt. It’s a shady tactic and one that we hope most people see through. This post was originally published in 2010. It’s now a whopping nine years later and we still get a handful of emails each month from people who feel they were scammed by Yellow Pages.
Often, those people are asking for us to put them in touch with other people who have commented on this post so they can try to get a lawsuit going.
In addition to selling services that appear to be basically useless because they are expensive and provide little to zero value in terms of ROI, Yellow Pages now gets the people they call into verbally agreeing to contracts without those people necessarily realizing it. For those who do sign a formal contract, an auto-renew clause is buried in the terms and conditions.
We hear from people who are shocked when they receive bills from Yellow Pages for hundreds or thousands of dollars, and when they call the YP customer service line (if they’re even able to get through), they are told there is nothing to be done because they said yes during a phone call with their rep or signed a contract at some point.
They’re even being charged through bills from their phone companies (like Telus and Bell). According to the pattern of complaints outlined by the Better Business Bureau, people are also complaining about auto-renewals happening after a cancellation has been sent.
Shady business practices aside, we don’t see any logical reason to get involved with Yellow Pages beyond the free basic listing. No matter how small your business is, it’s too big to spend your hard earned dollars advertising with them when there are better options.
Even if you can’t afford to work with us, get in touch and we’ll make sure you get set up with someone trustworthy who can help you grow your business.
What lies do Yellow Pages reps tell?
Nine years ago, Yellow Pages reps were still trying to talk people into print ads—for the past several years they’ve switched to pushing them towards what we view as terrible online advertising options and even more terrible Yellow Pages websites.
The Yellow Pages reps continue to tell people the same old BS stories, but they’re getting more insistent as they become more and more desperate. Their FUD runs along these lines:
1. We are the only authorized Google Ads reseller in Canada.
There are two parts to this. First, it implies that being a Google Ads reseller is better than a Google Ads Partner. 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 Ads reseller in Canada.
2. Having a paid listing on the Yellow Pages will improve your rank on Google.
No, not true. But a lie the reps seem to tell a lot, based on what we hear. 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 very low quality.
Having a free listing provides you with a small boost for local SEO, but the paid packages at Yellow Pages won’t impact your visibility on Google.
3. The Yellow Pages website gets more traffic than Google!
Absolutely not. The below chart of monthly visitors in Canada will paint the real picture. This data is provided by Amazon’s Alexa Internet, a well-regarded provider of competitive website statistics.
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. They’re just using the local business options available to any Google Ads advertiser. Nothing secret there, just knowing what boxes to click.
And the worst one 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 our experience, we 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 and reallocated on better advertising options!
We discussed this issue on Twitter back in 2010, and if the folks at Yellow Pages even noticed, they never 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.
How to cancel your Yellow Pages subscription
1) Check your contract
We were able to get our hands on a recent Yellow Pages contract, and the terms and conditions mirrored the comments we’ve received here. They put in an auto-renew clause that states that you need to give 3 months notice before your annual contract ends.
2) Call this number: 1-877-909-9356
In many of the comments we’ve received, people have struggled with actually getting a hold of someone to submit their cancellation.
Thanks to Mel for sharing this phone number where she had some success.
3) File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau
If you’re being charged for something you never agreed to, can’t get in touch with anyone at Yellow Pages in order to cancel, or are being hounded by credit collectors, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. It looks like Yellow Pages is actually responding to most of these complaints, but it’s not clear if they’re truly rectifying each issue.
Help stop Yellow Pages
Frustrated by the FUD business practices of Yellow Pages? Here are some suggestions we’ve received from users on how you can draw attention to their tactics:
- Share your story with CBC Marketplace.
- Report an incident with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
- Warn your friends, family, and business colleagues.
- Post about your experience on social media and tag Yellow Pages.
Updated May 16, 2019.