Be wary of White Pages contractual traps

Be wary of White Pages contractual traps

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GK CRONJE

2 March 2021

You are unwittingly duped into signing a twelve month contract to the value of R10 740.00.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, as more and more business opt to move their operations online. A large part of a successful business online, is the feedback received from clients who search for your services. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) statistics play a large part in how easily your business can be found on Google, and various paid services can help increase your visibility rating. However, a company called White Pages, claim to provide interested parties with free SEO listings on Google. While this might seem like a perfect investment for your company, it is in actuality, a shameless moneymaking racket.

When you are cold-mailed by White Pages representatives, or happen to stumble across their “free” service, take a look at the fine print on the documentation sent to you. While it may seem at a glance that this is a service rendered by Telkom, listing your contact details in a directory similar to the Yellow Pages, White Pages holds no affiliation to Telkom whatsoever. While a large, eye-catching sentence draws your attention, claiming to be a “free service”, the fine print is the flopped pudding. The fine print, which is almost always ignored, or simply glanced over when filling in a submission form, states that White Pages Directory Pty Ltd is an independent online advertising company, who is not affiliated to Telkom or Trudon. Furthermore, you are unwittingly duped into signing a twelve month contract to the value of R10 740.00. To make matters even worse, this contract will renew annually unless cancelled in writing, and White Pages Directory Pty Ltd needs to send confirmation acknowledging the request to cancel the service. Advertising is to be carried out for the above mentioned company as per the details above.

It should also be noted that this contract is subjected to cancellation within five days of signing. Delayed payments will incur penalty fees after 30 days, and will be handed over for collection including costs on an attorney and client scale. Unsuspecting clients are also duped into signing a contract which binds them to 50% of the total amount being payable upon cancellation. Ironically, the “debt collection” e-mails often come from a Gmail account, which brings into question the validity of the White Pages, as well as the dubious means in which they trap unsuspecting individuals.

There have been numerous complaints laid against the White Pages at the ombudsman, as well as the South African credit bureau. Complaints have also been lodged against the White Pages regarding harassment from their “debt collection department”, and affiliated legal threats.