Florida State Attorney General Sues Yellow Pages United, Alleges Deceptive Practices, Calls Site “Obscure, Little-Used Online Telephone Directory”
NEW YORK - Yellow Pages United, an advertising company that has been registered with the Florida Department of State and since 2011 has operated a nationwide online “yellow pages” business, has had a lawsuit filed against them by the Florida state attorney general’s office, citing violations of the state’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, according to reports.
The Attorney General's office alleges that Yellow Pages United has been deceiving consumers nationwide into paying a fee of approximately $800 annually for a listing in an "obscure, little-used online telephone directory," one that automatically renews every single year. Since beginning this practice in 2001, the AG's office says, Yellow Pages United has received numerous complaints – totaling at nearly 1,900 – that have been submitted not only to the Attorney General's office, but also the Federal Trade Commission, the Better Business Bureau, and numerous other agencies, both Federal and local. The majority of the complaints range from issues with Yellow pages United's marketing, billing, and collection practices, according to the lawsuit.
Allegedly, Yellow Pages United acquired the names and addresses of numerous consumers from public records and other sources, after which they sent them marketing materials for their business directory listings via unsolicited direct mail solicitations. Consumers are then hoodwinked and pressured, using a variety of deceptive in misleading tactics, to fill out the solicitations and return them to Yellow Pages United, after which they would be sent fraudulent invoices that they would be instructed to pay via credit card or check, according to the AG's office.
Yellow Pages United puts up a legitimate front by using the common and diluted term “Yellow Pages” and featuring the well-known yet [un-trademark-able] “walking fingers” logo in an 'attempt', the AG’s offices alleges, to make themselves appear as actual representatives of the “real” Yellow Pages. However, instead of their directory listings appearing in a legitimate Yellow Pages directory, Yellow Pages United were actually posting the businesses directory listing on their own obscure site and billing victims approximately $800 annually for that service, or lack thereof. If a customer refused to pay Yellow Pages United for their listing once they opted in, aggressive collection procedures were then used in order to bully the victims into paying, according to the AG's office.
The lawsuit brought about by the Florida Attorney General seeks to stop Yellow Pages United from perpetrating their alleged deceptive practices, and to render all contracts the company has with consumers null and void. In addition, the AG is demanding that Yellow Pages United repay its victims restitution for any fees fraudulently collected on previous occasions. The suit also seeks civil penalties against in the amount of $10,000 for each victim of their alleged deceptive practices; that amount goes up to $15,000 in any instance in which a senior citizen, disabled person, or US military member was a victim, according to reports.