Letters to the Editor
© 2002 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Fall 2002
Letters to the Editor
Note to the Reader: Our spring and summer issues raised several questions about the telephone directories' practice of publishing false statements in dealer ads without screening the ads to check the truthfulness of any claims.
To hear their side of the story, we talked to two Yellow Pages (YP) officials, one from Verizon in Washington, D.C., and one from Consolidated Communications Directories in Illinois. The Verizon spokesperson said, "The screening is done by a (YP) service rep," but the CCD spokesperson admitted, "We don't screen them in any way."
After repeated attempts to get a formal response from the Yellow Pages industry, we finally received the following.
One of the Yellow Pages industry's highest concerns is protecting consumers from fraudulent businesses. In fact, all contracts for Yellow Pages advertising contain clauses stating that advertisers must comply with all laws, rules, and regulations applicable to their businesses, products, and services described in the advertising.
Directory publishers, however, are not equipped to act as the policing and enforcement agents … by investigating every business or every state license for a business that places an ad. However, there are many governmental agencies that do serve in that role, and the courts have validated these are the best organizations for doing so …
Tom, I certainly understand your frustration in dealing with unscrupulous companies that take business away from legitimate garage door manufacturers and installers. In the Yellow Pages industry … there are 3.6 million businesses who advertise …
We encourage the garage door systems industry to help educate and protect consumers by identifying unscrupulous businesses and advising consumers to contact their Better Business Bureau, Department of Consumer Affairs, Postal Inspector, or Federal Trade Commission in the event they suspect or find any such businesses.
Director of Communications
Yellow Pages Integrated Media Association
Berkeley Heights, N.J.
Editor's Note: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says, "Government agencies and self-regulatory groups can step in once the law has been violated, but only the media can stop false ads before they're disseminated." See http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/buspubs/adscreen.htm.
To the Editor:
Unethical business practices? Say it isn't so. We have all known about these problems in our industry for a long time now. To tell you the truth, I'm a little tired of hearing about it. What do we expect anyway? Most manufacturers will sell to any dirtball in a pick-up truck.
There is a simple solution to this problem. STATE LICENSING. Until we as an industry are required to become a legitimate trade, the consumer will never treat us as professionals. IDEA accreditation is a nice start but it is only voluntary. Until all dealers are required by their respective states to be licensed, unethical practices will be prevalent.
Licensing is the only answer. Each dealer would have to pass extensive examinations and be subject to a sizeable fee. Several dealers would not be able to comply and would go out of business, but this is a small price to pay for a professional industry.
I enjoyed reading your summer 2002 issue and was especially intrigued by the coverage regarding unethical dealers. It was noted that overcharging and other clever tactics currently harming our industry are not necessarily illegal, elevating the degree of difficulty in preventing public deception.
This problem is not unique to our industry. More importantly, it is a problem that has been successfully overcome by other industries, and we have in place a means of doing the same thing.
For example, automobile repairs were once a perilous experience. The automotive industry has created visible professional designations that the public has come to recognize as indicating professionalism and reputability. Unscrupulous mechanics are still out there, but certified automotive technicians get most of the work.
When a majority of professional door dealers earns IDEA accreditation and makes use of the new installer certification program, the public will come to understand that sales, service, and repairs can be secured through honest and knowledgeable garage door systems professionals.
This form of self-regulation is available to door systems dealers today. At IDEA, we are aggressively pursuing a means of better educating the public regarding our programs to bring more value to accreditation and certification. Governmental regulation may be better than no regulation at all, but self-regulation is a better path for our industry to follow.
You are doing a terrific job in raising these issues.
Todd W. Thomas
IDEA Managing Director
West Milton, Ohio
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