The standard procedure for advertising in the Dex Yellow Pages is for you to be contacted by a Dex representative in the early fall about your proposed advertising for the following year's Dex book. You discuss with this representative what your ad will include, how large the ad will be, the wording of the ad, the cost for same, etc. They are then to send you a "proof" of the ad (this is so you can make sure it looks right, has the correct wording, no misspellings, etc. and is standard protocol with any advertising, be it in the Dex book, in print brochures, or whatever...).
After reviewing the proof, the customer approves it or contacts the rep about any changes that are to be made (which subsequently generates another proof reflecting these changes). Once the customer approves of the proof, it is approved IN WRITING and sent to Dex Media for submission to the Dex book.
My company, a small business in Colorado Springs, has advertised in the Dex Yellow Pages since 1999...and the abovementioned procedures have always been how we have gone about advertising in Dex.
However, for our ad for the 2007 Dex book, Dex Media deviated from this protocol to my company's detriment, to wit-
1.) First, in fall of 2006 when we spoke with the Dex sales representative about our upcoming 2007 advertising we wanted some changes in the wording of our ad. The "proof" of this was supposed to be sent to our office for approval (as is always the case). The proof was never sent to us, and hence we were never able to view the changes.
2.) In addition, we wanted the ad shortened (made smaller) to save a little money (Dex already charges way too much for their ad services but they are about the only game in town so....) - The sales rep assured us the ad would be smaller (and hence, would cost us less per month).
3.) We were offered the option of an internet listing, which we declined (Dex charges an additional fee to have your ad linked to an internet listing).
Due directly to the negligence and incompetence of Dex's sales advertising staff, my company never received a "proof" of what our new supposedly SMALLER MODIFIED advertising would look like. The deadline to make sure your ad is submitted in time to make it to the presses is typically early winter (prior to the 2007 Dex books coming out).
In November 2006, I diligently contacted the designated Dex sales rep whom we had been coordinating with about the abovementioned modifications to our ad. This rep assured me on three (3) separate occasions that we would receive the "proof" shortly in the mail and "it would be taken care of".
As December came and went with no word from Dex and no "proof" in hand, I again spoke with this sales rep who informed me that my company's advertising was now assigned to another sales rep (as he had allegedly been transferred to handle accounts in New Mexico) and that I should contact the new sales rep to get my situation rectified (It should be noted here that our former sales rep assured me I still had time before the "proofs" went to press to make the requested changes to my ad).
After emailing and playing phone tag with some management-types in the Dex sales dept., I was then informed that it was too late to make any changes to my ad and that I was basically out of luck. However, I was told that I could contact Dex's "Claims Dept." and that I could explain the situation to them and get a reduction in the fees associated with my advertising due to their errors.
I contacted Dex Media's "Claims Dept." (1-800-791-4955) and spoke with a Claims Dept. employee with the first name of "Tony" (this individual refused to provide his last name) who listened to my complaint and then proceeded to tell me that Dex would not reduce my advertising costs as this was allegedly my problem, that I had no proof that the sales dept. was negligent in handling my requeted modifications, and that despite the fact that I did not approve the erroneous ad my company would still be liable for all fees that they (Dex) will subsequently bill me. His attitude was cavalier and one of arrogance.
I then asked to speak to this guy "Tony's" supervisor and he falsely claimed he was a supervisor and that there was no one else that I could speak to (I called back later and spoke with another Claims Rep who advised that "Tony" was in fact not a supervisor, and that the Claims Dept.'s actual supervisor is Cal Pierce). I subsequently called and left a message for Mr. Pierce which went unreturned.
Since January 2007 (and after my company's faulty, misspelled ad went into publication without my approval) I have been receiving invoices from Dex which I have refused to pay. First and foremost, their failure to send me a "proof" which resulted in the publication of a misspelled and unprofessional ad in the Dex yellow pages has harmed my professional reputation and has undoubtedly cost me business.
Second, they are still billing me for a large ad as well as for internet linkage (both of which are erroneous) - I specifically requested a smaller sized ad as well as the removal of any internet linkage (for Dex to continue to do so is blatant and obvious abuse of their position - they seem to believe that they can throw anything into their Dex yellow pages without your approval and then turn around and bill you for it to boot!!!). This is improper billing and an unprofessional business practice in the very least.
I have spoken to several individuals within Qwest (which formerly owned/operated Dex and which handles their billing if you're a Qwest business customer) and within Dex advising them of the situation regarding the faulty advertising and my consequent refusal to pay them due to the abovementioned facts.
So far, Dex has taken the position that I still owe them for the faulty advertising, despite the fact that I never agreed to any of it, and in fact, requested on several occasions to have it corrected prior to print. They have had the audacity to continue billing my company for an ad that was never approved, has misspellings and errors, has caused my professional reputation harm, and for services (internet linkage and a fee for an ad larger than approved) I specifically advised them my business did not want.
It is my opinion that Dex Media Inc. is engaged in fraudulent business practices as per the abovementioned actions. Fraudulent billing, unapproved advertising, and a nonchalant attitude all combine to equal a corporate entity that feels it can stiff "the little guy" because they are the "big guy". Well Dex Media is mistaken in this belief, and in instituting and condoning this coporate culture of abusing their customers without recourse.
To top it all off, Dex Media's "collections dept." as well as their hired collection agency "Allied American Credit" (1-800-854-8260; P.O. Box 3766, Spokane, WA 99220-3766) now have the audacity to attempt to collect on this unlawful debt by pursuing the invoices my company has been refusing to pay. Allied American Credit is threatening my company with "possible litigation" unless I pay Dex their bill in full (plus interest, of course).
To them I respond: "Go ahead...Sue me...My official Counter-Claim to your lawsuit will name Dex Media, as well as Allied American Credit, as defendants in an action for damages on your attempt to collect an unlawful debt and for harassing me and my company (all violations of the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practice Act as well as Colorado state statute), damaging my professional reputation, and the loss of business".
It is my hope that by publishing this information in a public forum such as this, Dex Media will realize that their unprofessional business practices and unlawful collection enforcement actions will not be ignored.
For anyone interested in further details, including the names and contact information for the specific individuals within Dex Media and Allied American Credit that I have dealt with, feel free to contac me and I will be happy to correspond with you.
Colorado Springs, Colorado