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yell.com trying to rip me off! low income. no leg to stand on! Long, sorry!

(13 Posts)
blinder Thu 11-Jun-09 12:25:32

I took out some advertising with the Yellow Pages last year and the advert was printed in a paler colour than agreed, rendering it very difficult (impossible really) to read. It also backs a deep black advert which adds to the problem.

I let it run for three months but got no calls from it (first time in 6 years of business). So I phoned them and asked for a refund. They accepted the points I made but only agreed to a 20% discount. For advertising that cost me £1100 and which is completely worthless I feel this is too low. I wrote to explain this.

I have stopped my direct debit until the situation is resolved. Meanwhile they have now threatened court action (plus a daily interest of 8%)!

I am a sole trader, with no entitlement to legal aid for commercial law AFAIK and just about to go on maternity leave on a breadline income. sad

I think I am in the right and they are getting away with extracting money for a product I didn't approve. But I don't think I have a leg to stand on. The contract says:

6.4 Reproduction Quality and Limitations

Proofs that may be issued by Yell pursuant to Condition 9 are produced using different printing processes and on different paper stock from those processes and paper stocks used in the manufacture of the Your Town Directories. The Customer understands and accepts that the reproduction quality of Your Town Directories will generally be of a lower definition. In the case of colour Advertisement, the Customer understands and agrees that there will be some variation between the colour shown in any proof that Yell may have provided for that Advertisement and the version as printed in the Your Town Directory. Similarly, there may occasionally be some colour and tonal variation between adjacent pages in the same Directory and this factor may adversely affect the appearance of a double page spread type Advertisement. In the case of a double page spread Advertisement, Yell does not warrant the alignment of the two pages. Yell will not accept any liability for such degraded definition, colour variation nor alignment imperfections should they occur.

Can they REALLY get away with this?
Help!

BellaNoir Thu 11-Jun-09 23:39:19

Am not a lawyer.
DH works in advertising so have shown him your post.
Try contacting the original salesperson and explain how unhappy you are with the quality of the advert. DH (works in this trade) says there shouldn't be that big a difference between the proof and the finished prodcut. However from him speaking to clients over the years, yell has had a reputation for being awkward/difficult about advertising, the costs and the product.
The condition you quoted above is predominantly referring to double page spread, which we're guessing you didn't have.
Given your circumstances, I think a trip to CAB would be very useful, armed with any documents/emails etc you have regarding the order and subsequent correspondence.
HTH

blinder Fri 12-Jun-09 18:11:45

Hi Bella, thanks very much for replying, and for showing it to your DH. CAB say they are unable to help me as I am not covered by consumer rights or trading standards as I am myself self-employed.

I think I may try speaking to yell again and asking for a more acceptable discount. The original salesperson doesnt work there any more. But I have been a good customer for 6 years now and I am hoping that my continued business means something to the company!

The condition I quote is the only one that relates to variations of colour. But I wonder if the fact that my advert backs a very dark one (which adds to the illegibility) means that the contract doesn't in fact cover them.

Oh I wish I had a good understanding of contract law!

norkmonster Fri 12-Jun-09 18:16:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

blinder Sat 13-Jun-09 16:01:13

Hmm - thanks Norkmonster - thought provoking questions.

Yes, the advert was completely re-designed this year, after some pressure from their sales staff.

I don't have verifiable figures about the number of calls, as it's just down to what I record. But whereas I was getting around 3 new clients a month in the past 5 years advertising (from about 3-4 enquiries per month), I have now had only two or three enquiries since the advert was published in November.

There really is nothing in the contract about 'readability', but there is an interesting section on refunds which reads

8.2 In the event of error in or omission from or of an Advertisement the Customer shall be entitled to a refund of such part (not exceeding the whole) of the charge for the Advertisement concerned as is fair and reasonable having regard to the nature of the error or omission. In the event of a serious error or omission Yell may in addition to giving a refund publish or procure the publication of a similar correct Advertisement free of charge in the next issue of the Your Town Directory concerned.

I wonder if the faint writing could be classed as an omission?

I very much appreciate the advice. Many thanks again

ilovemydogandmrobama Sat 13-Jun-09 16:19:42

The problem you are going to have is that you let the ad run for 3 months before you suggested there was an issue with the quality.

Quality will need to be of reasonable quality, and if you could contact a printers trading association and ask them what is reasonable standard.

blinder Sat 13-Jun-09 17:45:11

Well the advert is only printed once a year (for 12 months) so I couldn't have cancelled it once it went to print. I only made a complaint after three months so I could give them an accurate idea of how much its effectiveness had been compromised.

Yell themselves don't dispute that they are at fault. We are just arguing over whether a 20% discount is fair and reasonable for their error.

But yes - possibly a printers trading association might be able to help. Thanks very much for that idea!

bigstripeytiger Sat 13-Jun-09 17:49:14

Might Yell argue that the current economic climate may have contributed to the decrease in enquiries that you have experienced?

Were you planning on advertising again this year? If so maybe it would be better to ask for a substantial reduction on this year, rather than a refund on last, as they might be willing to give you more than 20% off a new sale, rather than on money they thought they already had in the bank.

blinder Mon 15-Jun-09 09:01:31

Yes bigstripey, I just received a new contract for another year of advertising amazingly!

I will speak to the new salesman about a reduction for next year as another option.

Any ideas how I should negotiate with him. I'm not a particularly cut-throat businesswoman blush?

wingandprayer Mon 15-Jun-09 09:14:02

My symathies. I fell out with YP years ago after being mis-sold advertising. Sales woman was fired but they refused to refund me, started taking random non agreed amounts by direct debit.

I think you have to fight the current charges and ask for huge discounts next year too. Are you a member of any business association that provides legal assistance? Can strongly recommend joining FSB who give free legal advice to members. This is not a small amount of money though so I would be seeing a solicitor asap and checking your legal position so you can take next action with confidence.

If they have failed to supply advert that is fit for purpose I don't see how they have leg to stand on no matter what their contract states. If I have quality problems with press advert then usually they rerun the corrected advert for free at the next opportunity.

wingandprayer Mon 15-Jun-09 09:16:04

Oh and my revenge has been getting every one of my customers to reduce or cancel entirely their YP sp. Childish but very satisfying.

blinder Mon 15-Jun-09 21:32:02

thanks w&p - that gives me the strength to negotiate as high as I can. Will also check out the FSB. Great idea!

These big companies though - they behave so badly. The b*uggers think they can get away with anything don't they?

I cancelled my DD when I made the complaint and now feel very glad that I did!

wingandprayer Mon 15-Jun-09 21:59:29

I think the fact they have offered anything shows they know they in wrong. You now have to push that as far as possible. Problem is that once issues are escalated within YP you end up dealing with some right Rottweilers. Get some formal advice then go in all guns blazing.

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