Sunday, June 20, 2004

District attorney sues over solicitations that resemble unpaid bills By CATHY REDFERN SENTINEL STAFF WRITER June 18, 2004

Beware of Yellow Pages bills that appear to be real, but are not the exact company name that you expect.

Here is an article from the Santa Cruz Sentinel about the District Attorney going after a company calling themselves "Yellow Pages, Inc." based in Anaheim, California.

June 18, 2004

District attorney sues over solicitations that resemble unpaid bills
Sentinel staff writer
SANTA CRUZ - The District Attorney’s Office says a business directory called the Yellow Pages is trying to reach out and fool folks.

Prosecutor Bill Atkinson recently filed a civil lawsuit against the Anaheim-based regional business-to-business directory Yellow Pages Inc.

The suit alleges the company mails solicitations to businesses that look like bills, a violation of civil and business codes.

"It’s extremely confusing," Atkinson said. "And it’s quite possible people will mistakenly pay them when they’re nothing more than an offer of services."

Civil law mandates that solicitations be readily distinguishable from bills, by size, color, disclosures or other means, Atkinson said. The Yellow Pages Inc. mailings also violate business and professional codes governing unfair competition and misleading advertising, he said.

When one arrived last year at WorkSpace, a Soquel office furniture business, employees initially thought it was a bill. Their subsequent complaint made it to the District Attorney’s Office, said Kevin Dueck, whose father owns the company.

Dueck says they continue to get the mailings periodically and have advised their accounting staff to throw them away. The mailings include a perforated section to return with payment, a "total amount" and other trappings of a bill that needs to be paid.

"I don’t know how they honestly do it," he said. "It’s pretty amazing. Someone who is not really watching could easily pay it."

WorkSpace advertises in the SBC Smart Yellow Pages covering Santa Cruz County, which is a sister company to the phone service provider.

The Yellow Pages Inc. advertisements state that they are not affiliated with any phone company.

Atkinson is seeking an injunction to stop the practice and says the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office was successful in doing so. Fines of up to $2,500 per violation are also possible, he said.

"If you want to use this type of a format, you have got to make it real clear that it’s nothing more than a solicitation," he said. "But of course if you follow the civil code, not many people would pay attention."

Atkinson said he will try to resolve the case short of trial and has had discussions with the company’s attorney, Kathy Jorrie of Los Angeles. Jorrie and a Yellow Pages representative did not return calls seeking comment.

Contact Cathy Redfern at


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