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The Hibu Account Representative that Cried

Gather round, it’s time for a true story.

Once upon a time, in a distant land called Murfreesboro, TN, a well-known local business decided to cancel their contract with hibu – the online marketing service associated with Yellowbook. The business owner had been using the service for three years in an attempt to increase leads for his business and web traffic to his website. Unfortunately, the business owner was seeing poor results from hibu, decided to end the relationship and orchestrated a meeting with his hibu account representative.

Before I continue my story, I should mention that hibu clients are strongly encouraged to purchase a display ad in the phone book in order to receive the online services. Yes, the phone book.

This particular account representative had been with the company for seven years and was an intelligent and personable individual. Prior to being employed at hibu, the representative was on track for success in the medical field. Due to the unsettling state of the economy, she took the position with hibu in order to remain financially stable. Little did she know that this company would push her to her breaking point.

The Breaking Point

Upon hearing the news of the contract termination, the hibu account representative began to question the local business owner about his decision. The business owner stated his reasons, including:

  • A lack of website traffic driven from the hibu effort
  • The inflated price per month for the unsuccessful services
  • The unnecessary display ad
  • The inability to derive sustainable sales leads from the web traffic.

Naturally, the account representative wanted to keep the local business owner as a client. Over the years the account representative had built a strong business relationship with the business owner. Breaking this connection, although necessary in the eyes of the business owner, would be detrimental to the account representative. The local business owner stayed firm in his decision to terminate the business relationship. In turn, the representative would not falter, as this was a high-profile client.

The tension began to build. That is until…

The account representative began to cry.

The representative broke down in tears and explained to the business owner just how awful it was to work as a representative for hibu and Yellowbook. From the rigorous management team to the unattainable sales quotas, the representative described a horrendous work environment and just how awful the job was.

Note, this was not a sales tactic. These emotions were real. The account representative was exhausted, stressed, and genuinely distraught over the practices at hibu.

The business owner was empathetic for the account representative. After all, he had heard the hibu horror stories from other businesses. Something must be terribly off if the customers and employees of a business are miserable.

Ultimately, the local business owner apologized for having to end the relationship with hibu, but explained that it was necessary in order for his small business to operate efficiently. Although it was unfortunate for the account representative, the local business owner made the right decision for his business.

The moral of this sad, sad story.

Let me explain why using the services provided by hibu and Yellowbook is a terrible decision for local small business owners.

1.      Ridiculous prices.

The web marketing services at hibu are priced unreasonably high. In addition, they promote these services as secondary to the display ad.

Think about how many people still use Yellowbook or the Yellow Pages. Now think about how many people use the Internet on a daily basis. It may be me and my common sense, but the online services seem as though they should be the primary services offered. In fact, with the proper education and guidance, the majority of the services offered by hibu can be completed for free right from your own home or office. Why pay for nonsense?

2.      Minimal ROI

Those who have used hibu will tell you that it did very little to help their company. Hibu will make you pay an excruciating amount of money, and ask yourself if you think you will see the full return on investment.

First, you have to pay for a display ad. Ask yourself again, when’s the last time you used the Yellow Pages or Yellowbook in comparison to an online search engine? Unless your target market still uses the phone book to look up businesses, there is very little need to still advertise in that manner. As we all know, phone books are a piece of ancient history and will soon be long gone.

Second, you pay far too much for the listing, landing page, and other online services that you actually need. These services can easily be done for as little as, let’s see, free. Those with a knack for technology can assist their company’s search efforts for free or very little cost. Not technologically savvy? A local marketing firm can do more for you than hibu can, and at a lower cost.

3.      Inconsistent leads

Hibu and services like this have a great sales pitch complete with flashy statistics about their services, including PPC services and Google Adwords. What they fail to tell you is that those statistics are national. What about the average number of visitors in your state? City? Business category? If you are considering using these services, be sure to really ask your account representatives the deep questions.

4.      Tricky billing tactics

Hibu and Yellowbook are notorious for their inability to cancel a client’s account after the client requested a cancellation. For fun, go take a look at the reviews for hibu on www.consumeraffairs.com. The first thing you’ll notice is the overwhelming 89% 1-star rating. Ouch. There’s your first red flag. The next factor you’ll notice is the amount of customers that detail their miserable experience with hibu. From being charged too much, to having to cancel credit cards in order to avoid being charged, these customer nightmares are alarming. Save yourself the headache and the trouble.

5.      Aggravating Customer Service

Although the account representative we mentioned in our true story was a very pleasant individual, the majority of customer service experiences with hibu are less than stellar. Want to change something on your website or ad? Good luck.

Many customer reviews of hibu include frustrating phone calls with hibu representatives, a lack of representative presence after shelling out a large sum of money for the service, and so much more. Why put yourself through that anguish?

As a small business owner, you need to be strategic about your marketing efforts and overall spending. Instead of wasting your precious time, energy and money attempting to wrestle with the mess that is hibu, choose a marketing company with your best interest in mind or simply complete the search marketing tactics yourself.

Join the Conversation

11 thoughts on “The Hibu Account Representative that Cried

  1. Ah hibu…

    I was a hibu rep. Prior to that, I was a yellowbook rep. Yellowbook was much better to work for. Yellowbook was strong when verizon and dex were near bankruptcy. Until 2012…

    Everything changed. hibu (the YELL group) was forced to try to recoup five billion dollars nit had stupudly invested in Spain. Soon enough, hibu was forced into receivership. Quotas and pressure became almost intolerable. I was one of those internet-savvy reps who promoted the online products first, and threw in a yellow pages ad for next-to-nothing. My clients actually received good ROI for their money. I had excellent relationships with my loyal clients because they knew I had the knowledege and desire to do what was right for THEM. Because I did not have the requisite ‘hunting shark’mentality, hibu let me go when they laid off 35% of their sales staff in Q1 2013. It didn’t even matter that I was the top internet product salesman in the region.

    I am now an ad director for a small media group and enjoying a work life free of overbearing pressure.

  2. Interesting information. I searched hibu and stumbled upon this… I am 5 weeks new at hibu. Still testing the waters. hibu appears to offer amazing websites at a reasonable cost. They have eliminated the print side of the business, which seems logical. I heard that some managers are tougher than others (same in all industry) but overall, the culture appears to be, “make your numbers and there won’t be pressure.” I will say though, in just 5 short weeks there’s been a huge change in upper management style. More of a tighter managed approach. That said, it seems to me that once the CRM Saleforce is in place (anticipated in June), many comfortable hibu reps will be in for a rude awakening. Salesforce, yes, is designed to help individuals do their business better, but when management pays for such a high $ ticket sales system, they will demand use across the board for everyone AND then management will, at the end of the day, track each employee’s activity, thus making them even more accountable than before. What am I missing? I think I made a good move….

  3. Hi Shasha,
    Thank you for reading and commenting on our blog post. The blog post was written based on the experiences of one of our clients. This client was using hibu for three years and unfortunately saw little to no results, and simply decided it was time to move on. Little did he know of the pressure the particular account representative was under.

    Good to hear that hibu has eliminated the print side of the business, as it was harming small business owners and their marketing efforts immensely. As Scott F mentioned above, his clients received a great ROI on their website investments, as he had the best interest of the clients in mind. Unfortunately, with the crazy demands and more from hibu managers and higher, many sales representatives were forced to put their client’s best interest aside. Hopefully as a new hibu representative you will not feel the immense pressure that the rep in our post felt.

    As you mentioned, like all industries, different managers have different styles of managing. Some are laid back, while others are strict and overbearing. Hopefully your hibu manager will not force you to achieve impossible quotas! I wish you the best of luck at hibu.

  4. They have not eliminated the print side of the business – actually 75% of the revenue comes from that part of the business -. They have dedicated Account Managers (farmers) to support that side and implemented Business Development Representative (hunters)for the digital side.
    Unfortunately they have outsourced all the digital fulfillment area – plus the customer service – to Philippines, where quality control is roughly not existing.
    As for SFDC, the implementation was halted for a while, still struggling with a CPQ and Commissions System to support the entire integration.
    I have my concerns that by selling websites and search campaigns they will stay afloat the following quarters. It seems the ReachLocal strategy – hibu’s competitor – seems more smarter by focused on more profitable customers.

  5. Hibu’s PPC programs are a complete waste of money. The only company worse is DEX.

    Google Requires AdWords re-sellers to divulge their markups. Hibu does not (nor does DEX).

    I have years of PPC experience (setting up and managing campaigns) and I can tell you that Hibu’s campaigns are anything but profitable for the small business.

    The problems multiply when a customer is undersold. I.E. – a Plumber in a major market being sold a $600 per month PPC campaign that is then setup with broad matched keywords.

    First – deduct 40% (Hibu’s alleged markup) and you are left with $360. Roughly $20 per day for a plumber in a medium or large sized city is a complete waste (unless the program is tightly managed using exact match keywords). However – Hibu does not do this. They will broad match the word “plumber” and blow through the budget every month!

    Bottom line – Hibu’s Pay Per Click program is a complete waste of money.

    I strongly advise all business owners to steer clear of Hibu’s internet marketing (and Dex & Reach Local too – but that’s another subject for another day).

    – Chad Musgrove
    Pay Per Click Truth

    P.S. – I just completed an analysis of a VERY large Hibu Account that the client gave me access too. I found evidence that Hibu is reporting phone calls from Organic clicks as Paid Click phone calls. I am working on a new post on my Blog that will expose this practice. The main problem I have is that I don’t want to expose the client (publish screen shots of their website) as I did not get permission for this I will ask them, but if not, it’s going to take a lot of redacting on images to be able to publish the evidence.

    If they are doing this on a mass scale – it’s criminal in my opinion – and they should be held liable for it.

  6. Hey Adam – that’s an interesting story. I wrote an article similar to this last year (without the crying) and also added some updates later based on the harassment directed at me from Hibu employees, some of whom would masquerade as customers in the comments to drop positive feedback. My jaw hit the floor, though, when a Hibu employee left a rambling, insult-laden voicemail for me. It was so spectacular that I downloaded it as an audio file and embedded it in the post. If you want a good laugh check it out:


    Also check out the commenter exposed as a Hibu employee by a guy from the UK (SEO Andy).

  7. I worked for yellowbook/hibu for 14 years…I agree not only with the story but all of the comments..Sasha wake up…I was “terminated” Dec. 10…right before Christmas.All benefits stopped. I just sold two websites a new print ad days before…no mercy. I’ve been unhappy for well over 5 years…cried everyday.
    When yellowbook sold to yell in the UK the ship started to sink…I am glad now I was pushed out of the sinking Titanic or I would have gone down with the ship…I am now checking out my options as a Real Estate Agent for my sisters company…so long hibu!

  8. What happened with the SFDC implementation – is it micro-management beyond anything? Any truth the rumor they don’t have enough $ to make payroll in January 2015?

  9. Yellowbook and hibu are also screwed up on the consumer side. For ten years they have published my private home phone number as belonging to a business. Everytime I call they promise to fix it…but don’t. The new hardcopy of the Yellowbook just came out and the mistake was made again. If Yellowbook hibu repeatedly make this mistake, how many other mistakes are they making? And let’s face it, when the book comes it goes straight into the recycling. No one wants this outdated document…and there are too many other better ways to advertise. Now I’m stuck with another cycle of idiots calling in the middle of the night to see if my business is open.

  10. Hibu is the most unethical company I have ever come across. About a year ago the business I work for decided to close out all of their directory advertising because its become a money sucking sinking ship in the past 5 years. After the contract officially ended I realized that I was still getting a monthly bill for $45, which turned out to be some online listing. I asked them why it wasn’t canceled and they said that I had to call them to cancel it. After pulling the information out of them I find out that they had been charging me for a service since 2009 for an online listing, which continued even though annually I had a new contract which included the “online listing,” but because I didn’t call them and specifically cancel it they continued to charge me. Same thing when I asked why it didn’t get canceled when I canceled everything with my sales rep, they said that they sales rep couldn’t cancel it, it would only cancel if I specially called them to cancel it…what kind of company is this? My contract specially included the online listing yet they continued to charge for it separately through an old contract from 5 years ago. In my mind they owe me for 5 years of a service they charged me for that was negotiated through and included in a contract…now they are sending ME to collections for the $45 I refused to pay on the last bill they sent me and I have probably wasted 30 hours on the phone arguing with them and sending letters that have gone unanswered.

  11. When it was Yellow Book USA, it was a awesome company for clients and employees. Then Yellow Book moved to King of Prussia, Pa. Hired a company from England called Pindar Set to design and produce its phone books and advertising. Pindar Set destroyed Yellow Book. They outsourced labor to under paid under qualified personnel in Bangalore, India. They used a disaster of a program they created called Clipper to send data to India. Due to the poor communication between The people in India and the people in the US, loads and loads of advertisements were extremely flawed. This was the beginning of the end for Yellow Book. The managers at Yellow Book (King of Prussia years) and Pindar were the most unprofessional people I have ever worked with. If you think you will retire with this company think again. They will use you until you start to acquire decent benefits then make working there unbearable. It does not matter how productive you are, they don’t want to pay for hard working employees retirements when they can get 12 year old kids in a sweatshop in India to do it for less than half the price and no retirement. They don’t care about the quality of their product or the people working for them. Since Pindar destroyed Yellow Book, Yellow Book has changed its name multiple times trying to run from their tarnished reputation. First it was Yellow Book USA, then just Yellow Book, Then Just Yell or Yell Group, and now the same terrible business is calling itself Hibu. It is a terrible business.

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