Sunday, October 03, 2004

Settlement reached in Yellow Pages suit

Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A class-action lawsuit that claimed
Southwestern Bell Advertising bilked advertisers out
of more than $20 million in late fees has been settled
for $21.7 million.

The deal was approved this week by Jackson County
Circuit Court Judge Tom Clark, who called it fair and

Two Kansas City-area companies - Liberty Cellular Inc.
and Blast Inc. - filed the initial suit in November
2001 claiming SBC violated its contract by charging a
$25 late fee to advertisers who didn't pay their bills
on time.

The plaintiffs claimed the late fees were falsely
listed as collection activity fees on customer
invoices. Clark ruled last year that the billing was
"inherently deceptive" and that customers paid
"without full knowledge of the facts."

The suit was eventually given class-action status,
representing thousands of Yellow Pages advertisers in
Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

Under the settlement, class members can receive direct
cash payments or account credits.

Southwestern Bell stopped charging the collection
activity fees in December and has agreed not to pursue
collection of fees that had been charged but not

A spokesman for SBC Yellow Pages in St. Louis, Donald
Fisher, said the settlement limited what the company
could say about the end of the litigation.


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