I normally like to write articles that help people start and grow their small business. I hate to leave negative reviews because I have worked in many service positions in the past. I know how unreasonable customers can be, and sometimes they leave negative reviews that are not really deserved.
I took some time to cool down, and after thinking it through I feel that publishing my own experience with 411.ca as an advertiser might save some business owners some time and money. Of course, I am sure not every advertiser’s experience is the same… so good or bad, please share with me your 411.ca review (From Advertisers) so I can get an idea if this is an isolated incident.
I received a cold call from a sales person form 411.ca. I was fairly skeptical that this was a real opportunity to generate some sales, however the fact that some of my competition was already advertising on their web site was intriguing enough for me to take their promotional rate which was buy 1 month at full rate, receive the next two months at half price. I made sure to clarify with the sales person that this would not be something that would automatically renew. He told me it would not automatically renew… the contract is for only 90 days, and that someone would contact me to discuss a new contract once this one was about to expire. I also asked if there were any additional/hidden fees I should be aware of, and he said there wasn’t.
Billing went as expected… almost immediately I realized this wasn’t the place for me to advertise. I somehow threw aside common sense… after all, why would someone go to 411.ca to search for a business, let alone a web designer? Most people would probably just use Google for that… or perhaps Kijiji in my area. In any event, I knew I would cancel once the time to renew came up.
Sure enough, after the 90 days I did not receive a follow up and noticed they charged me full monthly rate ($67.80 for me) on the renewal date. Of course, as soon as I noticed (February 25th, 2012) I called to cancel. Their phone line went to a voicemail where I left a detailed message on how I would like to cancel my services and request a refund.
Monday February 27th 1:59 PM – After not receiving a reply from an agent, I decided I should follow up. I again reached their answering machine and left a detailed message about the situation and asked for someone to call me.
Monday February 27th 7:05 PM – After not receiving a call back, I decided perhaps email was a better route. I emailed their billing department to request the cancellation.
Wednesday February 29th 2:16 PM – After not receiving a call or email back, I decided to call yet again. My message again I feel was detailed and friendly, though I certainly emphasized the fact I had called and received no reply yet.
Wednesday February 29th 4:31 PM – I decided I should send an email to their help department. Perhaps this department was more generic and someone would reply.
Rock Bottom: Friday March 2nd
I decided to call again on Friday March 2nd, a full week after my first attempt to contact 411.ca customer service. Finally, I reach a young man. I explain to him how I was not told that the contract would automatically renew, and that this isn’t what I wanted/all I wanted to do was cancel my ad and request a refund for this extra month. He puts me on hold to look into things. He comes back and offers advice on how to improve my listing, but I tell him I just really want to cancel. He offers some promotional rates and offers to put my site in another category for free, to which I replied that I just wanted to cancel. He asked if there was any way I would continue to advertise with 411… like even if he offered me the ad for free. I explained to him I just wanted to cancel.
Finally, he agrees to cancel the ad, but tells me I would still have to pay for 1 month after this, due to their 30 day cancellation policy. I explain to him that I specifically asked about cancellation fees during the sales call and the salesperson told me that there were no additional fees. He asked if I received the welcome package which clearly explains this policy. Of course, I did not receive this… I realize mail gets lost sometimes, but what’s really going on here? I did receive a receipt for my first payment so I know they have my address down correctly. Basically he is telling me that it is in the contract, and he sees no notes on my account from the sales person telling him that I was told otherwise.
Now I start getting a bit aggressive and annoyed in my tone, which believe you me I don’t take lightly as somebody who has worked in call centers before. While he stuck to the “company policy” line for a few more minutes, he finally agreed to waive the upcoming fee as a courtesy, but said I would not receive a refund for the extra month I was billed. Again, he is sticking to the fact it is policy and that they did send these details in the mail, so there is nothing that can be done. I try to ask him person to person if he thinks it is right that I should have to pay this fee even though I was told by another company representative that this would not happen AND that I did not receive any documentation to inform me of this policy. When he explained that is the reason why he waived the future billing but still couldn’t do anything about the previous charge, I started to realize this was going nowhere… after insisting there must be something that can be done or someone else I can speak to, he offers to let me speak to a manager but insists he doubts they can do anything.
Finally I reached the manager… after explaining the situation to her, she agrees to refund the previous fee. She asks for some final feedback to why I am cancelling and I explain to her that while the initial reason was the fact I didn’t feel I was getting the full value I was hoping for out of the service, the fact that it has taken me one week, multiple phone calls & emails which were never replied to in order to reach them, that this was not the type of company I wanted to do business with.
She offered me a free month of service as a goodwill gesture but I just wanted to cut ties with 411.ca at this point, so I acknowledged that the offer was appreciated, but I would just like to cancel.
I should note that she told me the refund would take around 4 weeks to apply, but she would try to expedite that. I should hope so! 4 weeks to apply a refund? Is this the 80s?
I’ll be sure to update when/if I receive a refund and if any further charges are applied.
While I appreciate other people may have a better experience than me, I have to recommend you avoid advertising with 411.ca – I doubt 411.ca is a scam, but certainly there is little value advertising in their online directory, and my experience is that they don’t communicate billing properly and their customer service is brutal, as far as taking one week to reach someone goes.
Again, I hope you will share your experiences so I can see if this is an isolated incident or if this is common practice for this company.
A Note From Derrick:
If you received value out of this article, I strongly suggest you read the following article as well: Churn & Burn SEO – Why Cheap SEO Sucks. If you are looking to get exposure for your small business, you need to avoid cheap search engine optimization services. I strongly believe you will find it to be a waste of money, and this article outlines why I feel this way.