Mar 09

Time to show Yellow® the red card!

Yellow Invoice for unwanted business listing

Yellow® Invoice for unwanted business listing

My earlier post “Why Yellow® made me see red” came from “mild frustration” at being sent an invoice for $0.00, with a Reply Paid Envelope and Direct Debit Form for good measure.

This post comes from anger at being sent an invoice for a chargeable entry in the 2011 directory that I did not order. For those not familiar with the sporting jargon, the referee shows the red card to a player that has committed a foul that warrants being sent off.  This invariably leads to victory by the other side that then has an advantage of one more player on the field.

I phoned the 0800 number and expressed my frustration – politely as I try and make a distinction between the company and the unfortunate employees who have to deal with disgruntled customers.

I was told that the 2011 directory had already gone to print and I had to pay the invoice.  I could cancel for 2012, which I did my email directly after the phone call. I challenged Yellow® about sending an invoice for a service I had not ordered.  Yellow® has a policy of “auto-renewal”, which means if you don’t change or cancel your listing, you get charged the same as the previous year.  This may be part of their standard terms and conditions, but the company might as well have a declared policy of offering poor service and charging without consulting their customers.

The response was quite amusing: “it is difficult for us to contact all our customers” was the excuse. Well, Yellow® had not difficulty in sending me an invoice!  Before the company was sold, the policy and practice was to send an Advertising Order that the customer had to sign. It is ironic that the company that has a business directory as its business claims to have difficulty contacting the businesses listed in the directory!

The printed Yellow® directory may still be the right choice for businesses that have a retail presence and target consumers. Plumbers would be one example.  Every business should track how new customers heard about them and if possible what led to the decision. It is also important to track the results of all promotional activities.

Ask yourself the question “when did I last use the Yellow® directory?”

Consider if a paid listing in a printed business directory is a good way to spend part of your promotional budget.  It is not right for my business and I should have cancelled this additional listing last year.  You have been warned!

Simon Fawkes
Business to Markets Ltd