In 2008, I signed up for Yellow Pages advertising with the local Windstream Yellow Pages. I met with a local representative and we worked out a one-year advertising plan. In 2009 Windstream Yellow Pages was bought by Berry and operations were moved out of state. Due to experiences with other directories in the area, including the top-notch Qwest Dex directory, I expected to receive a call from a Berry/Windstream rep to go over my renewal later in 2009. Because I hadn't received more than a couple calls from that ad over the entire year, I planned to scale back or fully cancel my advertising and focus my advertising budget elsewhere.
Keep in mind that my previous experiences (such as with the Dex directory) are that the local rep always calls me -- I don't have to make a call if I plan to renew, not renew, update, etc.
I never received a phone call from anyone at Windstream/Berry regarding my renewal. The local directory was extended from 12 to 15 months, and when I called in to inquire about why my bill said it was now "billing cycle 13 of 12" I was told it had been extended 3 months but I hadn't been automatically renewed. The existing contract had just been extended. Fine, no problem with that.
Then after the 15th bill I received a new one saying 1 of 12. Big problem now... I hadn't ever been contacted about a renewal. They raised the rate, and while I haven't seen the new ad, a very unsympathetic person in customer service at 1-877-557-8221 told me my ad renewed just as it had run in 2008. Never mind that one of my numbers was changed, my pricing had changed, and a new category in the directory would have been a better fit. Basically, the ad that ran for 2010 is essentially worthless. But no one from Berry ever contacted me to go over the ad for this year. I've never worked with a directory before that didn't contact me to verify changes, confirm rates, and sign the contract for another year.
I opened a dispute with Berry Customer Service in late March regarding the autorenewal for another year without contacting me to even determine if I wanted to renew another year. They sat on it and did nothing for two weeks. Three calls later, they finally passed it on to an "investigator" who sent me a form letter saying the extension from 12 to 15 months was permissible and no refund would be granted, case closed. This wasn't even what I protested. I was fine with the extension, just not auto-renewal.
Upon receiving the letter I called back to discuss the apparent misunderstanding. The customer service rep gave me the extension of the investigator and invited me to talk with him directly. He never picked up, and after 3 voicemails left for him over the last week, still no returned calls. I called in today and got a very rude support rep who made it clear she did not care, repeated the line about my dispute being over the extension, and then said it was my fault for not proactively calling my representative at Windstream (who actually isn't on the case anymore... as it's now a Berry rep in another state that handles it... and I have no idea who he or she is... don't even have a name).
I haven't paid my bill from over a month ago as I dispute the legitimacy of it. I'm happy to pay a reduced rate since I can accept that I should have jumped through the hoops to find a representative last fall and get my changes in -- but I never thought that was necessary. But I see no reason why I should have to pay last year's rate and then some when the ad wasn't wanted and especially now does not meet my needs with outdated info. But Berry simply doesn't care. The local Windstream Yellow Pages were a good advertising source when they were local, but after this I will never advertise with them again and will recommend to my colleagues and acquaintances that they never advertise with Berry either.