My business partner stumbled upon a new 411 site .. 411.ca.
The copyright states "411 Local Search Corp" as the owner of 411.ca, but there is also a Yellow Pages logo on the front page. So it's not clear who runs the show.
Then my partner saw this page which states that we can have a free spot on their listing:
Obtenez une annonce gratuite d'entreprise vérifiée et profiter de ces avantages..
Loose translation: Get a free verified business ad and benefit from these advantages..
Obviously he decided to register to add our business to the listing.
Edit: I forgot, my partner was also misled by this advertising which shows up randomly in the listings:
When he was done filling the form, he got a "Thank you, we'll contact you soon" message. The next day he checked, we were still not listed on the site. Soon after he got a phone call from a representative of 411.ca to validate the information.
After validating the information, the rep then asked how we wanted to pay the 1$/day fee. Surprised, my partner asked what fee he was talking about, since nowhere in the sign-up process this fee was specified or explained.
The rep just replied that it is how it is. That the fee was standard, but it was well worth it since Alexa ranked 411.ca with more visits than canada411.ca (I know.. it's rage inducing bullshit material).
Then my partner got curious and asked if 411.ca was owned by Yellow Page. The rep said no, that they were only affiliated.
So he asked if 411.ca would eventually replace canada411.ca and the rep replied that he couldn't talk about it right now, but there was good chances.
That's when I got curious.
A quick WHOIS showed that the affiliation was pretty much inbred:
Domain name: 411.ca
Domain status: registered
Name: Yellow Pages Group Co./ Groupe Pages Jaunes Cie.
Name: Treena Cooper
Postal address: 16 Place du Commerce, Ile des Soeurs
Verdun QC H3E 2A5 Canada
Phone: 1 514 9347350
Fax: 1 514 9344076
Well well well. To me it looks like The Yellow Pages are desperately trying to save the furniture by trying to be their own biggest competitor.
I own a small company and just for the favour of being listed in their search results on canada411.ca with a link to my website and my logo, it cost me 100.25 $ per month. And that's nothing, initially the rep wanted us to take a 350$ per month package.
Now why should I pay 100.25$ per month to be listed on their soon-to-be obsolete (and continuously declining) directory listing and hand them over an extra 30$ per month to be on their maybe-soon-to-be popular new directory ?
That's an hefty 130.25$ per month to be listed on two sub-par websites when I can have the same (and a lot more) for free with Google Places. And I don't even want to know how much they will rise the fees if they manage to get 411.ca popular.
The only thing Yellow Pages has more than Google Places is their obscene paper waste (printed phone books) that almost nobody uses anymore.
Yellow Pages have built a successful business model making their phone directory and selling prime visibility at high price to commercial consumers. That's a good business model .. when you have virtually no competition, but since the Internet revolution this business model has taken a serious blow.
Initially they've made a decent foray on Internet with Canada411.ca, but now they're paying a high price for their greed.
And like most monolithic corporations relying on a business model obsoleted by the Internet, they have tried to apply their old money making schemes to this new medium and we are now witnessing a very predictable downfall.
It's never easy when your business model gets obsolete, sometimes you can adapt it.. but when it gets obsolete by a game changer like the Internet, a simple variation wont cut it. You have
to be able to see opportunities that don't exists yet, you have to be creative and agile. You have to take risks. But those are qualities that large corporations rarely have, they are usually conservative, they prefer to press the lemon until the last drop hoping it will magically refill itself.
We have a old saying in Quebec: Don't play in the snow if it's yellow.
And now we can say: Don't buy the advertising if it's Yellow.