The Yak scam

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Long distance company stole my business

CBC Here & Now aired an item on October 22 about the Yak long distance scam, but they are still nibbling around the edges of the story. Here's a compressed version from the CBC web site.

In a nutshell, they are cutting Yak too much slack.

There are accusations from well known individuals including Dee Murphy and the mayor of Corner Brook that Yak switched their long distance service without permission (a process called "slamming"). The company acknowledges that there may be some isolated cases which they are investigating, and it almost sounds credible and reassuring.

"We had a situation where we thought we had a confirmed order and the customer was happy, and it turns out it wasn't a customer at all," Anthony Lacavera, CEO of Yak's parent company, told CBC news.

But Lacavera is either lying or hopelessly uninformed. In either case, he should resign.

A CBC story from earlier this week was even further off the mark. It reported that some people had also had their long distance switched to Yak without their consent. But the Better Business Bureau missed the point completely when they said, "Just because something looks good on the surface, don't take it at face value."

What they should have said is, Beware - Yak will steal your long distance service without permission.'

How do I know this? Because I also received a call from Yak. They slammed' my long distance without even making a pitch. Here's what happened when the phone rang.

On the other end of the line was a thickly accented voice, possibly East Indian, with a lot of other people talking in the background. The quality of the line was not good, leading me to assume that it was an overseas call centre sweatshop'.

Without so much as a hello, the caller said, "Would you please hold sir, the manager is returning your call."

(This technique is clearly the telephone equivalent of an Internet spam message titled "Requested file attached".)

Recognizing immediately that something was amiss, I said "What manager? I didn't call anybody."

"Yes sir, you did sir," came the reply.

I became impatient. "About what" I asked.

"About Yak," he said.

His accent was thick, but I clearly heard the word yak'. I had no idea what this was, outside of a bovine-type beast, so I said rather forcefully, "No I did not call your manager" and hung up the phone.

There was no sales pitch and absolutely no mention of long distance.

A few weeks later, I received a call from Aliant, my current long distance service provider. They had received a request from another company to take my long distance service, and were calling to confirm that the switch had my approval. It didn't, of course, and this was definitely news to me. When I asked who the new company was, she said she didn't know but suggested that "maybe" it was Yak, which indicates this was not an isolated event.

She gave me a 1-700 number which, when dialed, automatically identifies your long distance provider. I rang the number and heard one word:


Man, was I pissed.

So the lesson here is not to be wary of smooth talking telemarketers who promise more than they deliver.

The lesson is to watch out for scam artists like Yak.

Yes, that's strong language. But I'm willing to testify about my experience in court, if Yak would like to test my resolve.

In the meantime, everyone out there especially those who have received strange phone calls from telemarketers should dial 1-700-555-4141. It's a toll-free service. I am willing to bet that more than a few will hear the word Yak'.

There's already some chatter about this on the Internet. I found this comment particularly telling:

"OMG a guy from India called me about telephone service and talked gibberish and hung up."

That person had better dial the 1-700 number

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Recent comments

  • Steve
    July 27, 2010 - 14:53

    There's more than one scam out there, and sometimes it's from an assumed-to-be-reputable company. Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) called me and offered unlimited long distance to me for $19.95 anywhere in North America. Imagine my surprise when my bill came in at more then 80 bucks for the first month. Without getting into TOO much detail about my frustrations getting this resolved, apparently to THEM, unlimited means 1200 minutes. They had done some research and seemed to think that this was more than enough for the average household. br br I looked it up. Unlimited means without bounds ; it doesn't mean twelve hundred . br br So, fly-by-nights aren't the only ones scamming. Even the oldest company in Canada is doing it.