KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Like every business, Dr. Gregory Stiver's South Kansas City dental office tries to keep expenses under control.
When his wife, Ginger Stiver, took over the business side of the office in November, she became alarmed by the $5,000 monthly bill for online marketing paid to YP.com, more commonly known as Yellow Pages.
"I realized that through their online marketing we had zero new patients through those marketing dollars," Ginger Stiver said.
Plus Stiver said Yellow Pages had promised the office a unique website for that monthly fee, but when Stiver compared her company's website to other YP.com customers, she found three dentists with nearly identical websites within a 20-mile radius.
She complained and YP.com changed the website, but refused to let her out of the contract, showing her a report outlining the hundreds of phone calls her business had received since it began using YP.com.
But Stiver noted that many of the calls only lasted a few seconds and some were from out-of-state numbers. Plus, she insisted, that not one call resulted in new customers.
"Any other business if I am unhappy with your services I should have the right to fire you," Stiver said." If you come into this dental office and you are unhappy with the care we give you, you walk out the door that day."
But not YP.com. According to the contract, Stiver has missed the 10-day cancellation period. Stiver's business isn't the only one complaining. Consumer complaint forums on the Internet have dozens of reports from other unhappy business owners, some of whom also claimed they were misled by YP.com.
In 2009, Yellow Pages was sued by more unhappy customers. That case was dismissed four years later with each side agreeing to pay its own costs. FOX 4 Problem Solvers spoke to two advertising experts who say most internet marketing companies don't require a year-long contract. They said the YP contract appears to be a holdover from when Yellow Pages marketing meant your would appear in the Yellow Pages book.
The internet has changed how companies are marketed and now Ginger Stevens wants Yellow Pages to change as well.
A spokeswoman for YP.com said it was disappointed to hear that Dr. Stiver's office was disappointed with its services and sent this statement agreeing to solve the problem:
"YP's top priority is to help small businesses grow and, in fact, that is what we've been doing with Dr. Stiver. We're disappointed that we will not continue to work with this valued customer, but we will honor his request and make an exception to our marketing agreement."