OLYMPIA - Attorney General Rob McKenna today filed a lawsuit against a California-based marketer of Internet directory listings after more than 75 Washington businesses and organizations complained about the company's deceptive marketing practices.
The defendants, Yellow Pages, Inc. and its president, John Wurth, sell business listings on the Internet website www.yellowpagesinc.com. According to complaints filed with the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division, the company used deceptive mailings to illegally bill businesses for advertising services they did not intend or agree to purchase.
The lawsuit alleges the company sent deceptive direct mail solicitations to Washington businesses and other organizations in the form of checks that resembled a customer refund or rebate, but instead were a contract to buy advertising services.
According to the complaints, the checks were for only a few dollars and appeared to be from local telephone companies or other businesses with which the recipient has an existing account. Once the checks were deposited, Yellow Pages, Inc. immediately billed the companies approximately $180 for one year of advertising services. Businesses that failed to pay the bill promptly were referred to collection agencies which actively pursued payment.
"The defendants designed this check mailing scheme to trick recipients into paying for a service they knew nothing about," said McKenna. "The entire operation was deceptive, and we intend to protect our business community from this company's tactics."
The lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court, seeks penalties of up to $2,000 per violation of the Consumer Protection Act, and restitution for businesses victimized by the company.
For more information contact:
Kristin Alexander, (206) 464-6432, KristinA1@atg.wa.gov