Chittenango (WSYR-TV) -- When Michael Cole recently opened his computer repair business in Chittenango, he thought it might be a good idea to put an ad in the Yellow Pages. He placed two orders with traveling salesmen.
"Well, I got four different bills when I only signed up for two companies,” Cole said.
Those two extra offers looked nearly identical, with similar names, both addressed to P.O. Boxes in Jacksonville, Florida and both featuring the well-known "walking fingers" logo. Mike assumed they were related to the orders he'd recently made with the traveling salesmen. So, he filled out the forms, verifying his company's address. Before sending money, Mike did a little research online.
"It seemed like the words 'Attorney General' just popped off the page in the search results,” Cole said.
A search for Yellow Pages scams yielded lists of warnings about various companies. NewsChannel 9 called the Attorney General's office in Florida to inquire about one of the companies that sent Mike mail, called US Yellow. The office of A.G. Pam Bondi stopped short of calling Mike's offer a scam, but supplied 77 pages of documentation for complaints, claims including unauthorized listings and a falsified signature. Mike is worried his credit will be destroyed if he doesn't pay and he couldn't immediately get through to anyone on the phone to make sure his order with US Yellow isn't processed.
"I got a recording that basically says, call us back during business hours. The only problem was, it was one p.m. during the work-week,” Cole said.
Mike also placed an order with SuperMedia, which publishes Verizon's phone book. He intended to work with them and hasn't had any problems. A spokesperson for SuperMedia said most of their sales are made face-to-face. They also list a direct number for ad sales in the yellow pages of their phone books, to make sure customers have direct contact for orders or billing questions. A SuperMedia spokesperson also said the "walking fingers" logo is not copyrighted, which has caused confusion in the industry for years. It's not unusual to see the logo on various publications by different companies.
Mike said he was also confused by the timing of the offers from Florida, right after he had placed his order with SuperMedia. He thought they were related. He was wrong. He's hoping other small business owners take the time to closely review their ad offers, to confirm where they came from.