St. Louis, MO, May 31, 2012 – Several medical offices are among 30 businesses nationwide that say they were charged $499 for online listings they never authorized, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns.
The BBB suggests caution when dealing with representatives of List Your Business Online
). A postal box in the Bella Villa area of south St. Louis County is the only address listed by the firm. The BBB could find no evidence that the company has an office in Missouri or is registered with the Missouri secretary of state.
All of the BBB complaints concerning the company have been filed since March.
Michelle Corey, St. Louis BBB president and CEO, said many of the complainants allege that callers from List Your Business Online repeatedly harassed employees and interrupted office work by demanding payment.
“Operating a business is difficult enough without having to deal with people coming in and trying to shake you down,” Corey said. “It’s no wonder that those businesses that have been targeted are angry and frustrated.”
“Unethical; underhanded,” said a business owner from Maryville, Ill.
“The harassment is unacceptable,” said a complainant from Kalamazoo, Mich.
“What a joke and a scam,” said another complainant, from Glendale, Calif.
Most of the businesses say List Your Business Online initially contacted them by phone and told them they owed $499 for an online listing.
When the businesses asked for proof that the listings had been authorized, the firm often did not substantiate the charges.
All of the businesses that filed complaints said they have refused to pay List Your Business Online.
A woman from Memphis, Tenn., said the company could not provide a contract showing her company had approved an online listing.
“Any legitimate company always has something in writing,” she said. “Their service consists of putting you in the Internet and being looked up via your name. That already exists; it is called the Google website.”
An employee of a medical office in Louisville, Ky., said company representatives tried several times to get her to authorize a business listing, but she refused. Later, the office received a $499 bill, which listed the woman as the authorizing agent.
In some cases, List Your Business Online agreed to voluntarily close the account “in the spirit of good will.” Colleen Sims
, who identified herself as the company’s customer service manager, said the business is headquartered in the Kahnawake Indian territory in Quebec, Canada. She could not explain why the firm uses a postal box in the St. Louis area as its mailing address. She identified the company president as Michael Lansing
Sims attributed the number of complaints to a recent increase in business. She said all clients are offered a free online listing for six months, but are charged if they do not cancel after six months. She said the $499 charges are made at the end of the first 18 months. All agreements are recorded, she said, and the company has many satisfied customers. Customers who are not satisfied will receive refunds, she said.
The BBB offers the following tips to businesses dealing with solicitations from unfamiliar companies:
- Be skeptical of calls, faxes or mailings from unfamiliar companies.
- Be especially careful when asked to give supplemental information about your business over the telephone or via mailed, emailed or faxed forms. Supplying such information could be seen as an agreement to an advertising or online listing contract.
- Channel all invoices through one department and make sure they are cleared with appropriate executives before they are paid.
- If you feel you are being asked to pay something you do not owe, contact your state attorney general, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Trade Commission or the BBB.
- Check out a company’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org or at 414-847-6000 (metro Milwaukee), 920-734-4352 (NE Wisconsin), 608-268-2221 (SW Wisconsin) or 800-273-1002 (elsewhere in Wisconsin).