BBB Cautions Businesses About Phone Calls for Listing ‘Renewals’

Chicago, IL—(ENEWSPF)— The Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois is cautioning businesses about responding to offers by telemarketers to renew a company’s online listing. Complaints to the BBB from Chicago-area businesses allege that a business identified as National Yellow Pages Online uses misleading and confusing statements to obtain agreements from businesses to pay almost $390.00 each for renewal of online business listings. Complaints also allege that the company implies inaccurately it is associated with the Yellow Pages telephone directory. 

“The BBB has issued this advisory because the company identified as the National Yellow Pages Online has a pattern of consumer complaints and has failed to correct the underlying reason for the complaints,” stated Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois.

According to Bernas, most of the complaints filed with the BBB state that National Yellow Pages Online has made misleading or inaccurate comments about the company’s true identity.  Based upon a company’s response to these statements, National Yellow Pages Online has then charged the company a $398.00 “renewal” fee for a business listing.  Yet, the companies filing complaints with the BBB have said they did not agree or authorize payment for the “renewal” services.

“In addition to taking complaints from a total of 91 businesses in 30 states, the Chicago BBB has received complaints from several businesses in the Chicago area,” Bernas stated. 

Complaints on file with the BBB state that National Yellow Pages Online representatives contact business offices and request that the individual picking up the phone verify the company’s name and address in order to “re-new” a previously established online advertisement. After verifying the address of the business, complainants state that they have received invoices and/or late notices sent to their businesses, requesting that they pay fees for online business listings with National Yellow Pages Online.

“In most cases, according to the complaints’ allegations” states Bernas, “Representatives state that they are calling to ‘re-enroll’ the complainants’ businesses into the online business listings.” These appear to be false statements as the complainants deny ever having enrolled in National Yellow Pages Online listing service, or authorized such a listing be made on the company’s behalf.  Many of the complainants state they have never had any business dealings with National Yellow Pages Online.

“These telemarketing tactics place the responsibility for understanding the effects of what National Yellow Pages Online is attempting to do on the person receiving the call,” stated Bernas.  He urged business owners to remind all their employees who could respond to a call regarding this situation to make sure that they understand the wishes of the business owner concerning renewal of any online listing. 

Bernas noted that when businesses request the unauthorized charges be cancelled, the complainants say that they are either unable to reach any of the company’s representatives or messages are allegedly not returned.  If a business does reach the company’s personnel, complainants say they are met with inferior customer service and allege to be sworn at and/or bullied by the company’s representatives. 

When the BBB contacted National Yellow Pages Online with the consumer allegations, the company responded, “a great deal of the complaints stem from some of our client’s employees over-stepping their boundaries of authority when accepting orders”. However, many of the complaints filed at the BBB seem to have been submitted by managers or other individuals of authority, who allege that their employees were misled by National Yellow Pages Online representatives.

National Yellow Pages Online also stated that it does not need permission to include a business in a directory, and that “the continuation of listing business is what [our] charges represent”. This response contradicts complaints filed with the BBB, which often state that the businesses had no prior contact or relationship with National Yellow Pages Online, yet were charged for “continuation” of services that were never agreed on in the first place.

According to complaints received by the BBB, National Yellow Pages Online refuses to cancel the allegedly unauthorized charges, and states the company will pursue further action and collections if the $389.00 invoices are not paid. National Yellow Pages Online also insists that the company records conversations and phone authorizations, which the complainants dispute and state the NYPO representatives repeatedly attempt to force consumers into giving yes or no answers, and allege that the recordings are cut early and/or "doctored" when replayed back to them.

Additional information about the Better Business Bureau and this specific situation can be obtained by going to www.chicago.bbb.org, or contacting the BBB at: 312-832-0500.

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As a private, non-profit organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reports on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.