I took out an advertising program on yell.com in November 2008 that cost me roughly Â£1750 exc VAT for 1 year.
The basis of that program was that my ad would appear in their search results under certain search criteria. They show 10 results per page, so my ad would be on the 1st page roughly 10/total advertisers on a random basis. IE, if there were 100 advertisers i would appear roughly 10/100=10% of the time.
Earlier this year, they changed their systems to offer what they call ‘heavyweight’ listings and normal ‘mediumweight’ listings. All listings are mediumweight, unless you pay an additional fee to become a heavyweight listing.
The search results still show 10 results per page, but now show up to 6 heavyweight listings at the top, followed by 4 or more mediumweight listings. Therefore, by chances of appearing on the front page have been reduced from 10/total to only 4/total; or, if there are 100 advertisers, from 10% to 4%.
I called to enquire about this change on the 20th April 2009. I was unsure as to whether this was a breach of contract, so I had asked for someone to point me to the relevant section of their T&Cs. I was called back 15 days later, on the 5th May 2009 and directed to their terms and conditions.
Point 10 states:
we may modify Yell.com or any of the Services from time to time without prior notice but in so doing we will try not to diminish the value and utility of the Services to any material degree. If we consider, acting reasonably, that such modification is likely to have a serious detrimental effect on your financial position, we will notify you of such modification and you shall have the option to:
1. agree to the modification and continue to receive the Services; or
2. terminate the Services and you will be entitled to a refund of that part of any Charges you have already paid to us and which relates to a period after the date that the Services have terminated.
Fundamentally, I believe this to seriously diminish the value and utility of my advertising program and was not offered either of these options when the new system was introduced. I voiced my opinion to the person on the phone and asked for my payments from the date of introduction to be refunded. I was told they would not be.
I then asked if yell.com believe this change could seriously diminish the value and utility of the service offered, I was told it did not. I then asked for that statement in writing – specifically, that a drop of up to 60% in adverts appearing on the front page was not a serious decline in value and utility. I was told that I could not have that information in writing by the person I was dealing with. However, they did offer to consult with the legal team to have a statement prepared and would get back to me when it was completed.
I would like to point out that it was at this point that my wild sense of humour kicked in and I asked when they thought that might be. As it had taken 15 days for them to reply the first time, would it take another 15 days? Would it take 2 years? Or would it take 60% longer than the first time – if so, I might consider that to be a serious drop in value and utility of their customer service! I also asked the representative if they knew if the letter would be written in full, or if i’d only get 40% of the words on the page. I was told that they did not know how to answer that question!
As of time of writing, I am waiting to find out what the response from their legal team will be, although the personal oppinion of their representative was that I would not have my payments refunded. I am waiting with baited breath.