CLAYTON, Mo. (CN) – AT&T Advertising and Southwestern Bell Yellow Pages intentionally printed false information about a business after its physician-owner refused to renew a $58,000 ad, the doctor claims in St. Louis County Court.
Dr. Eric Swanson, owner of Swanson Center for Cosmetic & Laser Surgery, says he spent more than $50,000 a year with the defendants between 1998 and 2008, before he decided to end his advertising this year.
Swanson says he agreed to pay $4,380 for advertising in 2009 after receiving repeated, high-pressure sales pitches from the defendants. Swanson says the defendants’ sales representative made repeated hang-up calls to his office after he refused to renew the $58,000 agreement.
And he says the defendants published several false statements about him in the January 2009 AT&T Yellow Pages for the Greater Kansas City Area.
Swanson says the false statements include: that the Swanson Center is an entity of Associated Plastic Surgeons; that the Swanson Center shares the address and telephone number of Associated Plastic Surgeons; that Dr. Swanson works for Associated Plastic Surgeons; that the Swanson Center is an entity of Advanced Skin Technologies; that the Swanson Center shares the address and telephone number of Advanced Skin Technologies; and that Dr. Swanson works for Advanced Skin Technologies.
After the ad ran, Swanson said he met with Ray Reidy, a general manager at Southwestern Bell, who told Swanson that in his 20 years with the company he’d never seen someone mistakenly listed as being associated with a competitor.
Swanson says the defendants offered only a $500 refund and no explanation about to why the mistakes occurred.
Swanson claims he was treated much better when his business was inadvertently deleted from the “Cosmetic Surgery” section of the Yellow Pages in 2006. That time, he says, the defendants immediately apologized and gave him a $26,000 refund.
Swanson claims the defendants set out to sabotage his business after he decided to stop spending $58,000 a year on advertising. Swanson said the false information has cost him undetermined losses of patients, profits, contracts and business expectations. He seeks punitive damages and is represented by Kenneth McClain of Independence, Mo.