Friday, April 07, 2006

Are Remote Call Forwarded Lines Misleading? - Hell Yes!

It is a common Yellow Pages industry practice to allow, and usually encourage advertisers to include local phone numbers in areas where they do not have an office.

In fact, it works so well, that publishers help set up the lines for advertisers.

Do these numbers mislead the public. You bet they do. Heck, that's why they work so well. Even if they are not misleading, consumers prefer dialing a local number (consumers used to have to pay long distance rates for out of area numbers).

Now, an attorney is suing Dex Media (the publisher formerly know as US West and later Qwest) over a rival using call-forward numbers.

If the claim is deemed valid, tens of thousands of advertisers will be put at risk.

My problem is that according to this story, Dex representatives are claiming no knowledge of this practice being misleading.

Just how freaking stupid do the Dex attorneys think the judge and jury are to believe Dex's representative who said that
no facts have been established to prove Dex had any knowledge that is somehow deceiving people.

If Dex really has no knowledge about these local numbers misleading the public, I have only one thought.

They are either lying or they are incompetent. I'm not sure which is worse.

Below is the story.

Letting their fingers do some of the walking, attorneys for a personal injury law firm argued this week before the Utah Supreme Court that the state's largest publisher of Yellow Pages helped a competitor of the firm mislead customers.

Personal injury attorney Robert J. DeBry's firm says the QwestDex Yellow Pages' publisher, Dex Media, should not allow DeBry's rival, Siegfried & Jensen, to print ads listing an Ogden number.

An ad printed on the back of the phone book a few years ago listed an Ogden area phone number for Siegfried & Jensen, even though the firm has no office in Ogden.

DeBry claimed the rival firm's ads unfairly took Ogden customers away from his firm and contributed to his decision to close his Ogden offices in fall 2002 and in Orem in June 2003.

Dex Media offers so-called "market expansion lines" that allow businesses to place ads with local-prefix numbers in the Yellow Pages of distant cities without having offices there, argued DeBry attorney Lynn Heward.

Chief Justice Christine M. Durham asked Heward about what the justices should assume about consumers in the case.

"Don't we have to presume some level of reasonable sophistication on the part of consumers?" she asked.
Heward pointed to a survey paid for by the firm that indicated 67 percent of Ogdenites who see a local phone number in the Yellow Pages believe Siegfried & Jensen has a local office. But an attorney representing Dex Media told the justices DeBry's beef is with Siegfried & Jensen, not the phone-book publisher. She also said no facts have been established to prove Dex had any knowledge that is somehow deceiving people.

The court took the case under advisement and will rule later.


Blogger EricSherman said...

I surprised this attorney is suing anybody. Is it misleading to provide customers local numbers to contact your business even if your business is not around the block? Are 800#'s misleading since they don't tell exactly where your business is located ? Or is it misleading to omit your address entirely from your ad? I think all of these practices are valid strategies of competetive business.

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is the practice misleading? As anyone in the industry knows, Remote Call Forwarding service as been around for 25 years and used by advertisers for at least that long. Before that, there was foreign exchange service.

I assume the law firm being sued does most of its business in its offices. So, any potential client is going to know where the law firm is actually located.

Bogus and frivilous lawsuit and, Dick, I am suprised you would take the position you have.

5:43 PM  
Blogger Chuck said...

With the comming portability of phone communications, anybody will be able to get their communications of any kind sent to them anywhere.

Nobody can stop that convience from taking place.

9:01 AM  

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