I will get right to the shady (and borderline illegal) businesses practices conducted by YellowPages with some opinion… but mostly with fact and proof.
Over the years I have heard dozens of stories from clients and friends being duped by [unscrupulous] freelancers and businesses serving the web to the public. Generally these complaints are as a result of questionable practices or outright scamming. In no way am I defending the actions of others, but the same can be said for most industries. One factor that might set the internet industry apart from all of the other scammers out there is a lack of knowledge from the general public about what actually goes on behind the scenes. (Really want to know? Just ask an honest question and I will give you an honest answer.)
I have put some thought into how to approach this over the last couple weeks. Keeping in line with the overall message I am attempting to convey I will go straight for the jugular. No cliffhangers here. Just facts.
When companies collect too much private information
Before we begin I would like to thank Mr. Pink for the information you see below; it was just enough to break this camel’s back.
The next image is a printout that I received from Mr. Pink (further obfuscating my source, see how I did that?). He stated that, in attempt to rid itself of YellowPages, his organization experienced every trick in the book From good-cop/bad-cop flavored manipulation to “Cough, cough, legal threats” and manufactured performance evaluations (the focus of our next post). The department’s “ace-up-their-sleeve” is the printout. Effectively, Yellowpages exposed the true value of their depth of their product and wholesome contributions to society willingness to disregard the safety of actual real people and their sensitive information – including violation of every privacy law you can think of!
This is an actual scan of the marketing material Yellowpages provides it’s business clients. Your information is only a dollar sign.
Do you think this is acceptable?
Mr. Pink scanned this and e-mailed it to me a few days back and only changes I made are the redactions protecting the information that should never have reached this piece of paper, information that should never have been collected in the first place.
What information is collected
Before Mr. Pink told YellowPages he was going to leave them. In a fit of panic they sent two representatives armed with gads of marketing material [all printed the same morning] including this. The fellas wielding the proof of illegal information collection practices played every angle they could to distract Mr. Pink. Stacks of manufactured metrics (RE: Post 2 in this mini-series coming soon) and discounts galore.
Yes, they offered discounts! Right after informing their loyal customer that an accounting error resulted in over $5,000 in back billing that was already withdrawn from Mr. Pink’s organization’s bank account (oops) without his knowledge.
What they do with your private information
This is just the tip. The tip of the iceberg that is YP.com. For now, I have to get back to my work – for the hard working small business owners that deserve better. Until the next episode, take care.