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Yellow Pages Scam – The Google Partnership

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Yellow Pages Scam – The Google Partnership

15th August by

Yellow Pages Scam – It is a strong title for a blog post, but I feel its warranted.

Today I received a phone call from Yellow Pages, telling me that I should have a presence in their directory. My response was “No, I am fine thanks, I am already in a directory called Google – and am happy with that”. There was a little bit of sarcasm in my voice, the Yellow pages rep had just spent 30 seconds telling me why I NEED to be in Yellow Pages.

When I mentioned Google, the conversation changed. The Yellow pages rep told me that I should definitely look into the online packages that Yellow Pages offered. She told me that they had a ‘partnership’ with Google and that they pay millions of dollars to make sure that their pages are priority on Google Search. This didn’t sit right with me. I remember reading an article quoting a Google representative that specifically said that Google do NOT have partnerships that change organic search results.

Maybe the Yellow Pages rep was confused, so I decided to clarify:

ME: ”So, just so I get this right, you are talking about organic search?” Yellow Pages: ”yes”

ME: ”Not paid ads up the top?”

Yellow Pages: ”No, I am talking about organic search. Yellow Pages have a Partnership with Google.”

She was confident about it. I asked her: ME: Are you ACTUALLY from Yellow Pages? Yellow Pages: Yes, I am actually from Yellow Pages, I am not an agent. I can give you a number to call back if you have any further questions.

It sounds really appealing to a business owner. I can imagine what the average small business owner would be thinking:

*Everyone has been saying that Yellow Pages is a big rip off for years. But now they are in bed with Google. They are a Google PARTNER! I want to be number one on Google. This sounds great.*

Yellow pages is a big brand, so it doesn’t sound too far fetched that they have a deal with Google. They actually probably do have a ‘partnership’ with Google. An Adwords partnership that is.

This means that Yellow Pages can resell AD SPACE on Google. Yellow Pages are using this ‘partnership’ to trick customers into believing that Yellow Pages has priority ranking on search. I decided to call Google and confirm whether there was such an arrangement.

Google clarified that in fact Yellow Pages does not have any partnership with Google, that gives them priority rankings in search.

I gave Yellow Pages a call back, mentioning the fact that Google didn’t know anything about this ‘partnership’. All of a sudden, a once confident sales person from Yellow Pages, was unsure and asked me to hold the line. A minute later and she gave me the verdict (that I was expecting),’Yellow Pages does not have a partnership with Google that gives Yellow Pages priority ranking’. She did say though, that they are ‘working on it’. Although, I don’t believe that either.

A timely reminder that Yellow pages is a bit of a con. Spend the money on getting an awesome website that organically ranks on Google. Yellow Pages is dying and I think they are getting worried!

Yellow Pages Post update:

Less than 24 hours since posting ‘Yellow Pages Scam’, we have had a huge response through social media. Including a number of people contacting us with similar stories.

Yellow Pages (Sensis) has also responded to the post.



Response from Yellow Pages (Damian Glass - Sensis)

“Hi Josh. My name is Damian Glass from Sensis Corporate Affairs. The conversation that you have outlined on your Blog is concerning for Yellow Pages as it is not the way the Yellow Pages relationship with Google should be described to our customers by Yellow Pages sales consultants. Sensis does not endorse any of the comments that are alleged to have been made by the consultant. Paid organic search on Google is not part of any product offering Sensis provides to customers and it’s not the way we train our sales consultants to talk to customers about Yellow Pages’ relationship with Google.

Sensis has an agreement with Google where Sensis syndicates Yellow Pages data to Google. This allows Yellow Pages advertisers to be found on Google Places Pages but it is still up to Google to determine the ranking of its results.

In addition, the Yellow Pages website is search engine optimised which provides additional benefits to Yellow Pages advertisers through seeking to improve organic listings.

As you have noted, Yellow Pages is an authorised Google Adwords re-seller meaning that Yellow Pages advertisers can purchase Google based search engine marketing (ie. sponsored listing) products from Sensis.”

Hopefully the re-training of their staff ensures that this doesn’t happen again.

We would love to hear about your Yellow Pages experience. Let us know in the comments!

Make a Comment/ but be nice!

  • http://twitter.com/cammanderson Cam Manderson


  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Blaz-Robar/615863521 Blaz Robar

    Strongly agree! “A timely reminder that Yellow pages is a bit of a con.”

  • John Pelagides

    I have a mate who works at Yellow Pages as a sales rep. Google had sent their own representatives from their head office to work with the SEO department at the Yellow Pages head office. To what extent were the SEO people able to understand all the Google information would be interesting. But none the less, a brilliant website with lots of good content should rank well regardless. 

    • Anonymous

      That’s right, John. I’m sure they are working with google to try and improve/learn more about SEO. I just think that it is misleading for them to imply that they have some sort of partnership that will be give them priority ranking. As you said ‘a brilliant website with lots of good content should rank well regardless’.

  • Hayden Millsteed

    the day companies can pay google to be a priority in an ‘organic’ search is the day i stop using google.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, exactly. There is a reason why Google has Adwords. The big companies with massive budgets can pump big bucks into advertising, but to be highly ranked in search, you need to have good content that is relevant.

  • http://john.mcclumpha.org John McClumpha

    That’s a shocker! Have you had the other one doing the rounds at the moment from Optus business? They’ve got an amazing offer where they have  similarly “partnered with google” to offer some “amazing cloud based solutions” – simply trying to flog Google Apps to small business.

    Surely there should be some sort of law against this sort of thing?!

    • Andrew Davis

      I see the Optus thing a little differently, as they do actually have an agreement with Google to resell Google Apps. Whereas the Sensis rep’s claims sound like a complete misrepresentation. 

      • http://john.mcclumpha.org John McClumpha

        Agreed – although the optus sales rep certainly tried to sell it as something “unique”

  • http://twitter.com/AnnetteCullen Annette Cullen

    But where else can I get free computer monitor stands delivered to my doorstep each year. They are even height adjustable, depending on how many sections of the alphabet you can do without…..

    • http://twitter.com/RichMcPharlin Rich McPharlin

      There are still pallet loads of Yellow pages books from last year rotting in the basement of a number of office buildings in Perth.

    • http://from.simontsmall.com Simon T Small

      the monitor stand industry is going to boom when people stop receiving yellow pages books

    • Andrew P

      Haha! When I was looking for the latest YP book, the first one I found was being used as a monitor stand! Second one was the one we kept (after having it offerred to us by a travelling YP distributor) to see that our advertising was in it.

    • Marty
  • http://twitter.com/thisistran Tran

    Don’t know why but “Not happy, Jan!” comes to mind…

  • http://www.marketinggeek.co.nz Luke Foster

    Your post title is spot on! Scam indeed.

  • Damian Glass

    Hi Josh. My name is Damian Glass from Sensis Corporate Affairs. The conversation that you have outlined on your Blog is concerning for Yellow Pages as it is not the way the Yellow Pages relationship with Google should be described to our customers by Yellow Pages sales consultants. Sensis does not endorse any of the comments that are alleged to have been made by the consultant. Paid organic search on Google is not part of any product offering Sensis provides to customers and it’s not the way we train our sales consultants to talk to customers about Yellow Pages’ relationship with Google.
    Sensis has an agreement with Google where Sensis syndicates Yellow Pages data to Google. This allows Yellow Pages advertisers to be found on Google Places Pages but it is still up to Google to determine the ranking of its results. 
    In addition, the Yellow Pages website is search engine optimised which provides additional benefits to Yellow Pages advertisers through seeking to improve organic listings.
    As you have noted, Yellow Pages is an authorised Google Adwords re-seller meaning that Yellow Pages advertisers can purchase Google based search engine marketing (ie. sponsored listing) products from Sensis.
    We’d like to get in touch to investigate your concerns. I would like to contact you today to find out more information, is the number listed on your contact form the best phone number to reach you on?

    • Anonymous

      Hi Damian,

      You can contact me on the following number: (03) 9014 9681


    • Andrew Davis

      Hi Damian

      I had a similar experience to the one mentioned by Josh.

      A small business client of mine had been contacted by a Sensis sales rep about finalising her advertising for the upcoming Yellow Pages book. My client asked me to speak to the rep as she didn’t understand what was in the “bundle” (a combination of the book and online) the rep was trying to sell her.

      I called the rep on Friday last week (12 August) for more information on the bundle. During the conversation she explained that the online component would include a priority listing on yellowpages.com.au.

      I mentioned that we weren’t interested in a priority listing as we were more focused on Google search results. She said that Sensis had partnered with Google. Unlike Josh, I didn’t pursue the issue – instead inferring that she either didn’t understand what she was saying, or she was actively trying to cause FUD (fear, uncertainly and doubt). Having read Josh’s post, I’m now concerned it’s the latter.

      Happy to discuss further offline.


      Andrew Davis

      • Damian Glass

        Hi Andrew, what’s the best way to contact you? Damian

    • dan

      damian , can you contact me about the fruadulent way yellow pages has delt with me

  • AnonSense

    this is currently making the rounds at Sensis (aka Yellow Pages) – LOL! nice work Josh.

  • http://twitter.com/tullibo tullibo

    Ah more yellowpages goodness, several of our clients have had similar experiences with YP even bagging our SEO services in one instance as YP could do a better job at it.

    It seems that Yellowpages sales people run with complete lies until they get called out and then its fobbed off as a simple mistake. If Yellowpages salespeople don’t know the difference between organic and paid search then they should not be selling online marketing products.

  • http://twitter.com/RichMcPharlin Rich McPharlin

    Hey Josh,

    Quality post, and something I’m seeing out in the market place at the moment as well.  That is YellowPages/Sensis staff misrepresenting their relationships with Google in an effort to sign the customer up to their Adwords reseller packages.

    Over the past fortnight I have had a number of clients/prospect forward me Sensis reports and quotes for their Adwords products.  Interesting that they don’t break costs down into media budget and admin costs – simply bill a flat rate for the year.  

    In one case a client was billed 27K for the year, for an Adwords campaign that should cost aprox $500-700/month in media spend.  Further the reports don’t track conversions and only offer basic info about click allocation and impressions, with little option for segmentation or post-click tracking.

    The simple fact is that Sensis are targeting industries with low tech knowledge and informing them they have a ‘special’ relationship with Google and can guarantee them a number one ranking.  While Yellow pages are a Google Re-Seller, that ‘special’ relationship doesn’t guarantee quality, even competence, and certainly does not impact the results achieved on the clients behalf, which at the end of the day is what SEO/SEM is about.

    Yellow Pages are not the only brand participating in this practice at present, but certainly the biggest.

    Anyone with an SEO background may also be interested to look at some of Click Manager’s (Sensis’s Adwords Reseller brand) link building practices, not exactly what I would call ethical.

    With annual reveunes down considerably over the past 2 years I guess they will do what is necessasry to keep the doors open.

    Keep it up,
    Rich - @RichMcPharlin:twitter 

    • Anonymous

      Well said, Rich!

      Thanks for the comment!

    • Marty

      Well done Rich liked you response to Josh. I battling YP and added you reply to the higher lever admin. Josh’s website might save me $1100 per month on this YP scam. Hopefully they will listen

    • Marty


      Can we vote them it for a special award Rich ?

  • Frann Leach

    Yellow pages, scoot and others have all been running this scam for some time in the uk

  • Chris Thomas

    Google’s webmaster guidelines discusses SEO in detail. They tell you what to watch out for when approached by prospective agencies. http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35291 – they quote that you should be very wary of companies who,  “allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google.”

  • Ryan Donnolly

    This is the only Online Marketing Partnership with Google I am aware of.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for sharing, Ryan!

      Even that partnership is still all about Adwords, not organic search results. Google would have to be extremely careful with partnerships that would alter organic search.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Josh, 

    I am a Sensis (Yellow Pages) employee and thought I should follow up on what Damian Glass has already posted. As an employee I overhear quite a few things in the ‘pitch’ in which consultants speak with their customers. 

    In so many ways do I disagree with the approach, but I  consider myself to ethically articulate said ‘partnerships’ and ‘agreements’ which is consistent with what is actually happening in that space. This is not something that is taught, but interpreted… However, that disconnect can lead to a smear in the branding, a further misunderstanding of the products and a cloud over the leads to which the Yellow Pages is actually capable to produce. Yellow Pages should not need to attach itself to Google in the sense that: PEOPLE ACTUALLY STILL USE THE YELLOW PAGES… The ‘agreement’ helped businesses who didn’t have an online presence, be found in that space. 

    Under the agreement it was essentially in the Google seven-pack area, in places  as to which the Sensis information was utilized.


    This came and went with Google’s last incarnation of Panda… however, we still don’t know if that information in Yellow Pages profile pages is reflected in  what is shown in the places pages. 

    To think Google should hold amnesty in all of these situations is naive. Google source’s business like the Yellow Pages and Sensis to provide it with local information… and that is why when you search for ‘unknown’ searches… “Plumber and Queanbeyan”, you will still find plenty of yellowpages Online listings that come above the fold in the organic searches because Google still holds the yellowpages.com.au as a reliable place for content information. 

    I am not excusing the way as to which certain employees relay this information, nor do I excuse the actions as to which the company I work for trains employees… The reason for my post is to articulate the fact that Sensis actually does emplo knowledgeable people…. Most of the time.



    • Anonymous

      Thanks for your comment. I agree, that the Yellow Pages website ranks well in a lot of local search terms. You would agree though, that this ranking is made possible by your SEO (Large amount of pages, keywords, back links etc) and has nothing to do with any partnership between Yellow Pages and Google.

      As you said, I am sure that there are knowledgeable people at Yellow Pages, but from the experience I had, and the experience I have since heard from other small business owners, this sales tactic is common.

      Regarding your comment that “PEOPLE ACTUALLY STILL USE THE YELLOW PAGES”, I would have to disagree. There is good reason why sales reps at Yellow Pages are trying to align Yellow Pages with Google. Google offers free listings to all businesses. It costs nothing to get into the same space that Yellow Pages wants customers to pay for.

      The Internet has democratised information. Yellow Pages no longer has a monopoly over the business directory space. They can no longer charge businesses thousands of dollars. You’re not alone. Many industries are experiencing a similar problem.

      Business owners could use the thousands of dollars they spend each year on Yellow Pages and put that money into a content rich website, social media presence, free online directories, professional photography & video, and they would still be spending less than what they do with Yellow Pages.

      It’s an exciting time for small businesses!

  • http://twitter.com/LukeMoulton Luke Moulton

    Some interesting discussion around this Josh. Good to see the Yellow Pages guys jumping in to address the issues raised.

    Kind of makes me wonder if Yellow Pages shot themselves in the foot when they agree to let Google syndicate business details to Google Places pages. 

    YP’s hard copy days are definitely numbered though…. perhaps they’re hoping everyone takes up their tablet app!

  • http://www.thehonch.net Mateusz Michalik

    Well said Josh, a timely reminder that when it comes to anything SEO there is a massive amount of misinformation and con-artistry. People just need to realize that content is king. There is no “SEO Guru” quick fix, and no organic “partnership” with Google. And if you have worked out a way to beat the search engines, your tricks won’t last long as the algorithms are constantly updated to make sure no one is pulling a fast one on the system.

    As for Yellow pages, they ram it down peoples throats and a lot of people don’t even look at it, then they can tell advertisers “hey, pay us $$$ because we reach millions of households” – sure you do, but who actually bothers reading Yellow Pages anymore besides those in there 60s and beyond? Hell even if I do want to check Yellow Pages, I’ll jump on the site and do so.

  • http://www.DigitalAgeMarketingGroup.com Victor Talha

    Hi Josh, coming from an SEO company Social Media Expert, I must say….KUDOS and CONGRATS Brotherrrr! :) I love it when we stick it to the people that don’t even have a clue, yet try to make definitive assertions about Organic Listings & Page Ranking. Way-to-go-Bro-Bro! :) Keep ‘em coming… Oh by the way, I would like Your permission to use this blog to train some of the staff here and reference Your Blog to some of our Clients. 

    So….Brother-at-SEO-Arms, whaddya say? May I? 

    -Your new biggest fan, 

    -Vic Talha

  • Anon. Web

    We have a client with branches nationally around Australia. They used to spend $170k PER YEAR with Yellow Pages. This year they spent $14k, and with our help diverted $4k per month to Adwords. They are MUCH happier with the quality of the leads they are receiving.

    Yellow Pages is in serious trouble. Our client is not exactly cutting edge and yet even they can see the lack of value that Yellow Pages provides. 

    Yellow Pages still haven’t transitioned to a modern business model and are now scrambling to create a ‘partnership’ with Google.

    They don’t provide value for the money, in modern terms.

    Going…. going ….. gone!

  • Iankearns01

    I’ve also been rorted by Sensis. I signed on with them for a website and ads in 2 local books and was told by the Representative I had a 10 day cooling off period. I cancelled 2 days later by email and have been trying to cancel ever since. They wont take no for an answer. i now have a crappy Yellow pages website that mainly advertises Yellow Pages. And they’ve also taken the first months payment out of my account.
    Buyer beware! Do not deal with these unsrupulous people.

  • YR

    I have had an ongoing saga with Sensis over Click Manager for the past 18 months. I signed up on the promises of the sales guy that they can manage my AdWords so much better and get more bang for my buck.  Turned out they had no idea what they were doing they (just threw a few generic ads together and put in 100 keywords, many with USA spelling and not AU spelling! and all at $10 max CPC!) and I asked to cancel after a few weeks. I was told that it was 6 months minimum contract and I cannot cancel.  I have not paid them and now they are threatening legal action.  I can see I am not the only one that had such experiences.  

    • Ex Sensis Employee

      You have been misinformed.
      Sensis Click Manager is a way for Sensis to charge you top dollar for an “estimated” number of clicks, for a set dollar amount per month. If you don’t use all of the budget set aside per month, you forfeit the balance.
      They will “talk up” their “Google” partnership, but you won’t be found on Google for most of the time.
      The way they make money, is to list you on the cheaper, lesser used search engines like Yahoo, Bing, Sensis.com.au etc where they pay 10% of the Googe keyword price, while charging you 100% of the Google keyword price. They only list you on Google to boost your click numbers as required.
      It’s not about you, or your results, it’s about them making money from people who don’t know how Google works as a SEM tool or people who find it scary or complicated.

  • Manvan

    At Man and His Van we have reduced our yellow pages advertising form about $150,000 pa to about $4,000. We were persuaded to keep Yellow Pges On line only after the rep told us about the “partnership” with google. Save the trees and scrap the yellow pages.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604642943 Graeme Glenn

    Here’s a list of stuff I’ve just gone to consumer affairs with:
    1. Advertising Confirmation not sent and not available on line – Not as agreed
    2. Advertising Proof not sent and not available on line – Not as agreed
    3. Contact Information for sales rep not sent. Not as agreed
    4. No cooling off period provided – required by law
    5. No way of verifying or correcting advertising – Not as agreed
    6. Metered Phone Number not provided as stated. – Not as agreed
    7. Ad not as requested – to be as per a previous ad. Wording not as per any other previous advertisement in last years Yellow pages, – wording not as agreed, appearance not as portrayed, not as advertised or and not as agreed.
    8. Ad 33% smaller than advised – False & Misleading advertising.
    9. Ad No 2 does not exist. – Not as agreed
    10. No way to correct or change on-line advertising (this has recently changed it’s take 7 months for this to occur.) – ???
    11. Second Online Ad in wrong category – have mixed up local and Main Yellow pages online ads – Not as agreed
    12. Billing amounts different from stated – Not as agreed
    13. Billing for things different from agreed and different for what has been advised by an “investigating” consultant – Not as agreed
    14. Sensis consultant advised that the audio recording she sent was playable
    with Windows Media player on a standard computer. This is not true without additional
    special software not available from Microsoft. It is not reasonable to assume that Sensis
    would not know this, and so it appears like an attempt to prevent me from listening to the
    recording by sending it in a form that requires a special codec. – Deliberate Deception
    15. The information provided by investigating consultant does not match the voice recording.  She appears not to have listened to the voice recording. – Deliberate Deception
    16. Investigating consultant claims she never received phone calls from me, and did not hear messages left. She also claimed that she never received emails, even though these were also forwarded by Customer Care. – Deliberate Deception

    It appear Sensis have moved from being unscrupulous to unconscionable and out right deceptive behaviour.

    • Marty

      Did you have any luck with Fair Trading ?
      I got simiar issues not need to get out of this overpriced yellow pages scam.

  • Robin

    I would like to see discussion about the new small phone book for rural areas. Recently we challenged Sensis about this and about the unannounced reduction in yellow pages advertising size. Which obviously is a form of down sizing and less value for same money. Considering the proof states the same size classificaton ??? Tasmania was split with normal sized phone book going to Hobart but the rest of us were duped. Apparently they have announced it will return to normal size next year and copped a lot of flack here.

  • Radguy

    Just received a call from Yellow Pages. They are CANCELLING FREE LISTINGS for some sections. They want $250 per year minimum for continued presence.

    I declined as I do well on Google. The rep also mentioned their “partnership” with Google.

    Well it looks like the days where a business doesn’t have to worry about having a minimum promotional presence. It seems the private sector think the best thing for the private sector is countless choice of promotional vehicles, none of which can be easily measured for value. A sad day.

    • Marty

      Beautifull said ! Radguy
      It seems that directories call me everyday ! Nowdays i just ask them to join my directory. I will give them a full page bla bla. Then when i get serious I generally say that they have to show me what they are selling. They seem confused then I add that we customers would normally need some kind of measurement of value. Then they just start talking jive again. It a sad day.

  • ~e~

    Its June 2012 and they just pitched the same “Partnership” story with Google. Google Should strip their Pagerank / rankings

  • ~e~

    Actually, it was DexKnows

  • Karen-034

    Just to keep everything in perspective, we are on an Internet blog page with people bagging out yellow pages. Depends on the area you are in and the age bracket demographic.
    Google is good for 20-30 year olds, yellow pages for 45 plus year olds. Not saying younger people ont use the yellow pages, and not saying older people don’t google.
    I suggest, before too many people start bagging that yellow pages telephone directories are dinosaurs filling up basements or only used for computer monitor stands, actually google Bureau of Statistics and look up their local area and see the number of households actually connected to the Internet. In my area, it’s only 62%. That’s 38% that are not able to Google my business.
    Just because you don’t use a phone book, doesnt mean everyone else doesn’t either!!

  • John Olive

    Just had the Yellow Pages Rep tell me this same lie, Partnered with Google. Why are they trying to charge me more each year for a product that produces a deminishing result?

  • Dazz

    I have been stung twice by yp. Latest is there ClickManager, and after 4 months and having under 5 connections, , its cost me $4000! It doesnt work! Anyone know how I can pull the pin legally

  • http://twitter.com/Captbrien Capt. Brien’s

    Just had the same exact conversation with yellow pages rep and they swear that only 12 companies world wide are partners with google and they in fact are one of the 12!!! 800 per month for SMO and 500 per month for SEO….. scammers

  • http://www.facebook.com/seoanered Giovanni Seoane

    Just got billed for 500 dollars for a supposed “standard listing + priority online listing” I have never agreed to anything of yellow pages and on the invoice they sent me the name of my company is even wrong.Beware people, they will call you and threaten you to send you to a collection agency, I’ll give them a call tomorrow to tell them where they can shove their scam.

  • SS

    My Yellow Pages rep said the EXACT same thing to me…

  • http://awesomehairtransplant.com/ Hair Transplant blogger

    The Yellowpages team are known to be agressive in selling their adwords packages by combining them with regular Yellowpages ads. This is new and confusing to small businesses who do not understand that they are just paying for someone to manage their ads and nothing more.
    Businesses have to be careful when they are offered freebies in yellowpages in return for their commitment to expensive contracts.

  • Peter

    Yes had a rep meet with me and give me the same line. He said that Google trust the quality of yellow pages and will rank their companies higher than competitors. I was very impressed and it made sense until I read this. This in legal terms in misrepresentation under the trade practices act. Very disaapointing. Regards Prospective Customer now never to be your customer because I can’t trust you.

  • http://twitter.com/Lips88 Sue

    Got the same speech from YP as well claiming to be a Goggle partner. They also claimed to be a major partner in Bing and Yahoo. Since I do pay Google for some optimization, I asked what they felt they could do better. The rep went in circles for 30 minutes and I’m surprised I gave him that long. In the end he said he would do some more research, call me back with a better proposal and in the meantime email me our current printed listings for my review.

    I got no email. 4 days later I got a voicemail stating that “this call was being recorded”. The rep then went on to say “further to our previous discussion I’ve gone ahead and set up our renewal with no change” that I ” do not have to do anything, it’s all set up and ready to go at ( unintelligible mumble) $$ per month”
    If I want to make any changes, I’d have 3 days to call him, otherwise the renewal would go through after 3 days. And then he hung up WITHOUT leaving his return phone number.

    I was not happy or impressed. I called yellow pages, looking them up online and since I do have a salesrep assigned to my account, I asked for his supervisor. I have a name and # for this supervisor since they couldn’t transfer me. I’ve left 2 messages with the supervisor, but haven’t yet to hear from him and I doubt I will.

    Part of me wants to just let them send me a bill and then I’ll fight it out with them, but I really want to get to the bottom of this and find out if this reverse billing is really something they think they can get away with. It’s not legal in Canada, but I’m sure it’s hard to enforce.

  • corbryant@charter.net

    I love how they picked at your blog. Pardon my French, but fuck these ripoffs. I absolutely hate liars, but when a company blatantly lies to get a sale – it’s just sad. I think it’s funny that they tried to suggest how their partnership and company should be described in YOUR blog. What an idiot. The bottom line is that you were lied to, and that is your experience. Why would you describe it in any other way? I’m pretty sure that countless thousands of people have been given the same exact load of crap in an attempt to get their business.
    Yellow Pages, AT&T, and the rest of the landline based genre are indeed dying. After reading this, I think that’s probably the best outcome anyway. Fucking ripoffs.

  • Connor

    Just upgraded our yellow pages book and online advertising for this year as we check where our customers find us and had a ton of new customers over the last year from it, turned down the google advertising as there is far too many people just browsing and not buying on google from our past experiences, those who don’t advertise with yellow pages have a perception that nobody uses it, but actually our older more profitable customers prefer sticking to their traditional methods, and in the computer repair business if your computer is broke and you need it fixed you may not be able to access google.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=657404030 Jeanette Burton

    I just had the same phone call today. This YP scam is still happening.

  • pisser

    If you want to expand your business… don’t use the yellow pages. We have tried to expand into 10 different citys all within an hr of our office base. It turned out our rep switched positions the day after she sold us the thousands of dollars worth of services, and clearly she was just getting us sold telling us what ever we wanted to hear. We were to have a lot of online products as well as all of the books. We ended up with %30 of what we were agreed to get. We made claims from the very start an no one seemed to care, it all came down to legalistic instead of client care.

    Don’t use YPG! Yellow Pages

  • http://twitter.com/KMF_uh_huh KMF

    But is the more subtle relationship between Sensis and Google
    something we should be worried about? Sensis is a Google Ad reseller.
    It makes money for Google. At the same time Google appears to place
    great weight in its organic map listings to those companies with a paid-for
    Yellow Pages listing.

    I would argue that those organic map listings – they tend to come up on the top of page 1 when you include a location in the search terms – are incredibly powerful and companies are indeed keen to appear in them.

    Is this a quid pro quo, a commercial relationship of sorts? I’m concerned that Google rankings are indirectly affected by commercial payments (YP’s charge to its clients for a YP listing) to a commercial partner to Google (YP’s an AdWord Reseller), which seems to be the case.

    To me is the real story is that paying money to Yellow Pages does work in helping with your organic Google listing, but just not in the way that some YP employees allegedly say and that has been mocked here.

    Call me naive, but I suspect more cock-up than conspiracy on Google’s side. I suspect they saw tapping into Yellow Pages data as an elegant way to get its search/map feature going.

    Google should give serious thought to the weight they give to YP listings in its organic search algorithm given that they are the result of commercial payments (and one to a commercial partner of Google). Of course, very happy to hear others allay my fears.

  • Steve

    this is still happening. A client of mine was told by her YP rep that their organic results are a direct result of the work YP do for them. (They used to buy book space and a small advert at YPOnline.)

    AND that if they cancel they will plummet from Google Organic listings.
    Should you still be considering using any YP product I recommend you spend a small percent of it and install your own new line so you can monitor any ROI.

  • Glenn

    We just experienced a phone call from sensis claiming “you know we’re partners with google don’t you?”…..i must say i’m very dissapointed in Yellow Pages’ conduct. As a web developer and SEO service provider I have unfortunately experienced the same conversation with many clients. I can only interpret their methods as unethical and misleading……i often say to my clients that the yellow or white pages result in google is a marker of where competition stops for that search phrase as it is ridiculously easy to outrank them.

  • Marty

    I have a different twist on this. I truly believe that its Google that are really to blame and also the Yellowpages. I do a bit of SEO and my forte WAS to get good rankings for the suburbs. I created optimized pages for every suburb in my industry and they all did very well. So i was very focused on this niche.

    All seo’s know that google would just love to dedicate the whole page to ppc(pay per click) if they could , but that wouldn’t work for them , because they are supposed to be a search engine right ? They have to attract people that are searching and encourage them to click on a paid ad.

    Google used to have just two ads at the top ,
    then they started putting all the ads right down the right side,
    then three ads at the top.
    then they started expanding the space that the ads at the top took up , by adding a line or putting in extra links there.
    They go stuck for a while because they experienced a bit or a back lash from the organic community.
    Then next beautiful solution was the MAPS ! That was a beautiful way they could get map entries from A – G almost taking up the entire page now. At least they could get people to start using the map places and get more money from driving people to that service.

    So after that there was not much room for the seos to get an organic result that got a good position near the top. Well perhaps there are a few spots left , but they couldn”t possibly just go ahead and take the only remaining space on the first page , could they ?

    I was at that stage still making good money from my suburb pages , just wondering how google were going to get me. There was good value in all these suburb searches , were google just going to keep letting me have that success ? I knew they would find a way to do It and they have found a solution. They just team up with some big directories like Yellowpages , Truelocal. I saw a very big a sudden shift putting these directories right at the top.

    Now all my suburb pages get next to no results ! I always knew that Google would find a way to take them from me and its yellowpages that are there paying them.

    Google will never admit that ! They will never admit that they have an agreement with yellow pages for organic results. I believe that there IS infact a partnership with google that may be disguised as follows:
    Google has a meeting with yellow pages and offers them a deal to put their suburb pages in the top of the listing in such a way that people will never be able to accuse Google of taking yet another front page position yellow pages will do it for them and make the money and pay Google some money , Google drive results to them.
    THIS is what you hear the yellow pages staff refer to all the time. All the staff know that Google are driving results to them and they tell you that when they want you to sign up on a package. That a great sales pitch right ? Google will never admit there is a organic search partnership NEVER !
    What Google had done is tweak their algo in favour of large local directories. Then do business with those directories. All Google need to say in response to this is that “Our algorithm now likes Big directories local results.”

    Thats how powerful Google are , they just have to point at something and is turns to gold. Googles opinions make hugh money. Yellowpages is just the pawn.


    • Shaun Dietrich

      I have fount this to be the same in my local area. All of a sudden Yellow Page directory entries are now appearing at the top. If there is no paid digital entry for the category then it won’t appear on top on google. The actual page rank for these yellow page entries are low though. It’s looking like a deal has been made but no one will confirm it. Probably a non disclosure clause in the contract.

  • steve

    I know this thread is old but, could yp be getting preference now ? I just searched for electrical contractors melbourne and yp have the top 4 results

    • joshjanssen

      Hey Steve,

      No, they still wouldn’t be getting any special preference. I would say that Yellow Pages have just focused on optimising for that phrase, just like how this article shows up on Google when searching ‘yellow pages google scam’.

      Thanks for commenting,


    • Marty

      Yeah but the results that actually come thru to business dont even pay for the ad.

  • Sam Fennon

    Just advised my brother on this scam and then came across this, he currently has an advisor hassling him to sign before 2pm today. Good job he trusts his little sis enough to ring me first to check that he’s not making a big mistake. Hopefully once he reads this and hears it from everyone else he will see how lucky he was to avoid getting into this and paying yell.com
    On the plus side had he have done this i’m a trainee solicitor so can advise him on contracts anddistance selling.
    No wonder they say you won’t notice anything on google for 2 weeks.
    Scam artists.

    • Marty

      Go SAM !! Love your work. What are we gonne do about this contract ? I dont wanna pay them but they will just damage my credit rating.

      • Sam Fennon

        It depends on the contract itself and the part with regards to service and/or failure to provide service. .
        If they have managed to write themselves out of providing a service then this could be reported as an unfair contract term.
        It also may affect you depending on the companies location and that countries legislation.

  • Telstra or sensis, no thanks!

    VCAT hearing or Court Case in the near for SENSIS! – Re google Scam!

    Yes that’s right folks!
    I’m a small business owner and I too received a call from yellow pages offering the exact same package as your story above.
    When I advised that our website already comes up in google searches, the sales rep told me that in this package it would be guaranteed in the top results on the page!

    I was hesitant and asked for more info, he went on to say that before anything happens they would send me artwork of the listing to be approved. To which I responded so if I’m not happy with it nothing will go ahead.

    Within the next 2 weeks I received to calls from their marketing research dept. asking me to rate the sales rep out of 10. I said 0 as no one had gotten back to me.

    Then a few days later A call, what do you know it was the same sales rep from the first call. But hang on! He went off on this big speal, to which I replied. “Yes you guys tried to sell me that package 3 weeks ago and I’ve herd nothing back”.
    He said “no that would have been something else”
    I said “no it was the exact same offer and it was you that offered it to me”.

    He told me I was mistaken and that this was even better offer which I should take.
    I told him no and hung up.

    I have since been receiving bills, late notices, phone calls, and threats.
    When I question them on what the charges are for they tell me it’s for advertising renewals.
    However when I tell them I have no add as yet as I have not even been sent anything to approve of given them any details about my company they then put me on hold and ironically the call is terminated.

    Then day after day someone else calls and having no record of the previous calls from their colleges, we just go round in circles.

    I have even asked to be put onto the supervisor or manager in charge, guess what? Again ironically the call terminates again.

    So I can assure everyone, that if they think they can just keep sending bills for nothing and get away with unwarranted debt collecting calls, well they have a court case or VCat hearing coming to them real fast.

    • Marty

      They love hanging up on you ! Yopu get that from the old telstra days. That would happen all the time. “Oh complaints deptment , oh certainly , hold the line please. BEEP BEEEP BEEP (gone)

      • Marty

        Ill back ypu up if you need backup ! Read my story aswell

  • Lorraine Piercy

    17/10/13 They are still at saying the same stuff about their connection with Google.Ive just been scammed, wish I had of seen your page earlier.I am in the process of canceling my agreement. I am putting in a complaint with ACCC as their sales person was charming but not 100% full with details.

    • Marty

      Let me know how you go ! I will back you up as extra evidence if you need. I doing the same thing.

    • Lorraine Piercy

      Thanks Marty, I was able to put an end to the contract but they( Sensis call center ) are very rude and pushy.

  • Shane

    On Friday 22/6/12 I had a sales rep from Sensis (Tony Millroy) show up for a meeting about their click manager product. Before speaking with me about my budget he had already typed up a contract with my business name and my own with account details for billing a huge amount per month.

    This guy wasted no time in trying to get me to sign this contract with out reading let alone explaining this product to me. Alarm Bells started to ring and I stood my ground and asked him to go through all packages in detail. It was at this stage I got my hands on the contract to find I was being backed into a corner.

    Lucky Tony had put a dictaphone on the table when he 1st walked in, as I didnt beat around the bush I asked “is that thing was recording”, Tony’s reply ” do I need too?” mine was “I beleive you do”.

    Tony Millroy explained all packages with the hype of being 1 of 12 partners worldwide with google. I explained to Tony that I would not sign a contract with mistakes and corrections and make another appointment to start a fresh contract.

    Tony then went on about how he was going on long service leave the following monday for a few months and would set aside an appointment for monday 25th at 9am. The short of it is before Tony left on the friday he asked me to initial and sign for his mistakes due to his supervisor’s questions and paper trail etc etc..

    Tony did not turn up the following monday and I did not hear from Sensis till after 4th Aug 2012 when I received a bill in the mail with $1,410.49 of extra charges. I have been in talks since with Telstra/Sensis and seems that Tony Millroy put in a fraudulent contract that I only initialed and signed for mistakes.

    Conveniently Sensis has lost the copy of the dictaphone recording or Tony did not hand it in with the contract(why would he). All I know is that the bill now comes to $11,604.74 and feel like a fool who got conned so someone could get a higher comission before he goes on long service..
    Tony Millroy has not worked for Sensis since he went on long service leave and have found another 8 business’s that have the same problem here on the sunshine coast..

  • Casey Lewis

    Hi Josh, this is a really old blog, but its still the same story with the Yellow Pages. I worked many years in the industry before leaving and managing an Inbound Marketing firm. We are located in Northern CA in the USA. The tactics and untruths are still the same. We deal with Yellow Page advertisers every week that cannot understand how they could have been treated that way. There was a time long ago when the old “Ma Bell” Yellow Pages in the states was a great and reputable business. It’s there own fault they waited too long to adjust their business plan and product offerings. I’ll share your post and see if you can revive this conversation in the year 2014.

  • Victim of Sensis

    We have been scammed with a similar thing – 6 months free campaign that produced zero results, we told them we were not interested as there was no value to what they were offering us and now we are getting bills, late notices and threatening letters. When I call them they cannot produce evidence that we have signed up to a campaign and have no record of our conversations where we told them we were not interested. Anyone know how best to fight these unpleasant bullys?

    An unhappy victim of Click Manager’s (Sensis’) scam

  • Disgruntled buyer

    I was told the same story as you. I believed them even though I had poor experiences with YP in the past and hadn’t bothered for years. No results for us and we don’t even appear in their search for most of our keywords. I would rather spend my money elsewhere.

  • Sam Patching

    Good article, wish I’d seen it this time last year when I agreed to an $850 per month package for our family business. We managed to somehow weasel our way out of a 12 month deal down to a 6 month deal, but something your article doesn’t cover is how hard it is to get out of one of these arrangements once you sign up.

    We had a clause written in our contracts with Sensis/YP that we could opt out of the arrangement after 6 months if we chose (which we did), only to basically be hung up on, transferred to off-shore consultants, told we’d be given a call back to confirm the cancellation of our account. This process has gone on every month from August and we are still yet to cancel our account. We receive bills every month even though we’ve been confirmed on a monthly basis that we wouldn’t receive any more bills, only to receive calls from the collection department asking us to pay the latest bill which we never should have received in the first place.

    A very dodgy operation these guys are running, we’ve had written confirmations every month since August to say our account’s been cancelled, but we receive a bill weeks later and the process goes on and on.

    YP and Sensis won’t want stuff like this getting out on a larger scale, so I’m sure they’ll want to cover their asses before this gets too much publicity.

  • http://www.TheMiamiWedding.com/ Alex Batista

    The biggest problem with these so called “Yellow Pages Scams” is the fact that there are dozens of companies that call themselves “Yellow Pages”. The fact is that the famous walking fingers were never trademarked which is why so many companies use them. While “Sensis” is not a company I have ever heard of, the REAL Yellow Pages (which began with the Bell Companies, which later became AT&T, and now YP Holdings, LLC) is in fact a Google premier partner.


    As I business owner myself I can tell you that I get a much better Cost Per LEAD with online directories as opposed to search engines, although actual website traffic seems to work better thru search engines.

    As small business owners we have to ask ourselves if what we are looking for are PHONE CALLS or CLICKS. I personally like both which is why my advertising budgets is divided between both online marketing medias.


  • Adrienne Caldwell

    I was told by a YP rep the YP OWNS Google. LOL.

  • Chiara Pagano

    Interesting read.

    Since starting a google ad words account has anyone else had numerous phonecalls from google partners stating that they can offer packages for top page listings and ulimited clicks? I felt like it was a scam so I ended the call.

    • Kate Butcher

      Dodgy companies based overseas often source new customers for seo and adwords by clicking on google ads, you can set your adwords location targeting to exclude everywhere that is overseas for you.

  • Anthony

    YP’s partnership works a lot like back linking (google it.. lols) They spend about 800k a day to get back linked millions of times thus making them rank high in the organic listings. Google return spends roughly the same amount on YP.com to push your adwords and attempt to gather a chunk of the 2.5 billion users they get. I use their packages with a ton of my clients and they are pretty sweet.

  • Anthony

    I think a lot of people are getting the company mixed up with all the offbrand rip offs, ask them for their website its Yp.com

  • Chris

    The Online Yellow Pages seen on top of google search results is a scam.

    I received a call from Yellow Pages out of Victoria a few days ago . NOTE: I work in Prince George, therefore my ip address is also linked to how google displays ads and search results.

    The person selling Yellow Page ads said my business was not in google. I said, yes it is! She said, let me see and see typed in a common search for what my business is. She said, no, I don’t see your business. (how did she find me in the first place lol.)

    Well I said, I’m not surprised its not showing up in your city, you are looking up my business from a different Geo location. Your ip address is misrepresenting how you are selling this service to people. Are you aware that you are scamming people?

    The person on the other line didn’t have a clue as to what I was talking about. She just kept on going on.

    Google should be informed and Yellow Pages should be reported to the BBB for pushing this bogus service to people. What a disservice.

  • matt bingham

    It probably wasn’t the same company calling that delivers your phone book. If you’re in the US there are many yellow pages companies. YP will take your money and not do anything for you. But there are other companies that you can trust. http://tapyellow.com

  • Bill

    My brother owns a business in metro Detroit and I work for him. I meet with the YP rep as well and we have gotten many jobs from doing business with YP. They sell into Google, Yahoo and Bing and they do it way cheaper then google adwords!! we did adwords and spent thousands that was a waste of money! I don’t know what they do specifically but whatever partnership they have it worked for us.

  • Antony

    I was conned into signing up with YP/Sensis when I first started my plumbing business. I was promised to get loads and loads of calls from customers instead was bombarded with telemarketing calls and received 0 business in the 6 months I was signed up. I lost nearly $4,000. Nothing but a scam I think. Very disapointed with the service from YP/Sensis

  • Stuart Emery

    Sensis online experience in Perth. Paying $670 per month for online presence for our business locked into a 6 month contract based on a lot of promises of additional leads by the Sensis advertising rep. Actual results are around 3 – 5 calls per month from this medium. Costing me over $100 every time one of their leads rings my number – what a joke…………….Have been on to them for months with my actual stats………but they dont care… they just want their money

  • David Adlem


    Does anyone have any thoughts on Yellow Pages back links into peoples’ websites? I have seen a number of instances recently where websites have excessive numbers of links – i.e. 10′s of thousands – from YP with a large proportion of them containing anchor text for services these businesses don’t offer…..

    • Scott

      Hi…can you explain this a little better? What instances are you referring to?

  • DC

    That company YP CLICKS aid i had all kinds of clicks, but i was getting no calls. I figured out that YP was the one doing the clicking from various computers we as the public would never be able to prove, which would give them the minimum guaranteed clicks on my web page they needed me to have, in order for them to keep their end of the contract so id have to pay.
    When i brought this up to them, they said they dont do that, but i knew they were full of shit and without a lawyer checking into it there was nothing i could do to prove otherwise. These mother fuckers are the scum of the earth and i just about quit paying them but a lawyer told me to finish the contract as i only had $700 more to pay and then to cancel, which i did. I sent them awfull emails and told them to go fuck themselves.
    I wish someone would sue the shit out of them or there was a class action suit made against them which would make me feel so good, whether or not i was included in a payout. They owe me $1300 for worthless advertising.
    YP Clicks was the name of it back then and are part of ATT and i wouldn’t have anything to do with them if they were the last fuckin communications company on earth! What a scaming company that does nobody any favors and will lie to get a contract, concented to over the fucking phone to screw people out of $..
    ATT YPC can go to fuckin hell. I hope they loose everything and never have any fuckin business!! Who gives a shit about them-don’t need them anyways. Sorry about the French, but i have no good words for them and im not going to sugar coat my misfortune giving up a small fortune because some moron wants nice language. This is an angry topic for most and should not be sugar coated to suit a monitor for publishment.

  • Nicole

    My family business has been advertising with yp for years. I have been trying to get my grandmother (business owner) to cancel for a very long time but she is used to her traditional advertising. This week she finally cancelled her services and then frantically messaged me when her YP rep told her she would be losing all of her traffic. The rep told her that yellowpages.com was ranked in the top 50 websites in the U.S. and was more popular than Pinterest! Really??? (Please see Alexa) The rep also stated that our listing had 1700 clicks to our website in the past year. Our google analytics reports 0. Then we were told that yellowpages.com has a special “partnership” with yelp that we would no longer be a part of. Well, i was the one who created our Yelp business listings in the first place. Obviously not having any of this! Glad I could find this article to back up my opinion that these people are scam artists.

  • http://www.kovasys.com alexukie

    Yellow Pages is a big scam, they keep on renewing our subscription even though they do not have our credit card on file or authorization from us to renew. We have tried to cancel it 10+ times just to be redirected to Client Retention team that still after 11 months somehow we end up getting bills from them. They say we have the right to charge you because it renews automatically (even though noone talked to them , signed anything or provided credit card in over 2 years!!!!)

    The clicks to our website from Yellow pages that they charged us $5k+ in the last few years? Less than 200. Bunch of crooks if you ask me..

    • kuroko_the_shadow

      Can you give me on idea on what to do? i call yellow pages for information on advertisement and i agree to monthly payment but when they mention contract i told them i was not interested then. they send me a cancellation latter but month later they send me a lawyer from Ohio saying that i have to pay $700 for the calls i received that i never actually get, now i get calls from collection saying that they are taking me to small claims. should i worried about this situation?

  • Malaysian Food Online Supermar

    Got a call from person claiming to be yell people today in uk . He direct me to the page ht**s://meeting.is/yell?hl=en&wr=dffasomeoddnumbersss (i am not promoting link) and i noticed something fishy. Kill the browser and the agent said woops i can see you but u cut it out..
    I said please email me but he insist will give me another call
    I put the phone down.

    Is this a sign of SCAM ?

  • Donna Leigh

    My firm has advertised with Sensis Yellow Pages Online for decades, paying $384.00 per month for two major listings. I have always trusted in the Yellow Pages name and was happy to invest, and made sure my listings were current with lots of keywords, FAQs, images etc. Sadly I didn’t take the time to review the actual campaign’s performance myself. Recently I spent the time required…using Google to search for all our top keywords, long keyword phrases and EVEN the Yellow Pages Campaign Headings. Whilst our business appeared organically every time (first page), there was absolutely NO SIGN OF ANY YELLOW PAGES ADVERTS ANYWHERE! . The first Campaign Manager I spoke to agreed with my findings; saying that Sensis had not delivered on these categories. However when I was referred to their complaints department the Manager was incredible rude, arrogant and totally disinterested in my complain/concerns. I’ve obviously cancelled both campaigns and will spend the dollars on my SEO and Google Adwords campaign – and encourage any savvy business manager to do the same! Extremely poor form Yellow Pages!

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