Earlier this year, businesses in Homedale were sold advertising in a local business directory to be delivered in the surrounding communities.
The businesses paid as much as $250 for advertisements. The publication was to come out in February.
In a similar situation, businesses in Emmett were approach and told they had an opportunity to advertise in an upcoming publication that would spotlight the businesses in the region. Several businesses pre-paid, but the publication was never delivered
Several businesses pre-paid for advertising, and waited. The directory never appeared. Similarly, in Council and Weiser, businesses were exploited by the need to get information out about their businesses.
Already, across the state, BBB is hearing from business owners that advertising sells representatives are making calls. This is a good example of why business owners need to research the advertising company’s reputation. You want to see examples, know the reach, and where the copies will be distributed.
Beware of copycat companies that say they are selling for the Yellow Pages. The copycat companies can use the term “Yellow Pages” and the walking fingers logo because neither is protected by federal copyright or trademark registration. As a result, companies that provide few or no beneficial advertising services use the name and logo in various forms.
The BBB offers the following tips to businesses dealing with directory solicitations:
• Look closely at any directory-related solicitation. If you have a question about its legitimacy, contact the Yellow Pages representative you have dealt with for previous advertising.
• Be careful when asked to give supplemental information about your business over the telephone or via mailed, emailed or faxed forms. Supplying such information could be seen as agreeing to an advertising or online listing contract.
• Channel all invoices through one department and make sure they are cleared with the appropriate executives before they are paid.
• If you suspect you have received a call, fax or mailing from a bogus or copycat Yellow Pages company, contact your state attorney general, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Trade Commission, the BBB and/or the Yellow Pages Association at 1-800-841-0639.
• Check out a vendor’s company on BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org or call 208-342-4649.
Just this past month, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden settled with the publisher who was selling the advertising to Idaho businesses. The settlement resolves allegations Sam Consalvi, owner of Sector Marketing, accepted money from businesses based on his misrepresentation that their purchased ads would appear in the monthly Spotlight. Consalvi subsequently left Idaho without publishing the magazine or returning the businesses’ money.
Small business owners who believe they are entitled to refunds under the settlement and have not already filed a complaint with the Attorney General must file a complaint before May 14, 2012. A complaint form is available to download from the Attorney General’s website at www.ag.idaho.gov or by calling (208) 334-2424.
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