YellowPages has switched tactics lately. They aren't making much money as a directory, so they've established a new service - doing SEO and website setup for companies.
There are two problems that are going on with this company.
The first is that they're registering your domain name for you. That sounds fine, until you want to change provider...and YellowPages won't let you transfer the domain name. Instead, they'll demand money to keep using whatever site they set up for you. Or a lot of money to hand the domain name over.
The second issue is that YellowPages has apparently taken to registering "variants" of their customer's domain names without asking first, meaning that when your customer makes a mistake in the URL, they get redirected to a yp.com landing page with tons of ads on it. (This is a standard cybersquatting technique that isn't, quite, illegal.
In either case, the tricky part is getting your domain name back from them. As far as they are concerned, they own it and you're renting it. In some cases they'll let you buy it from them - for a high price. In others, they've been known to simply refuse to hand it over. This forces you to start over on all of your marketing with a new domain name.
So what, other than not buying their services in the first place, can you do?
If they've registered a variant of your name without your permission, you may have legal recourse, especially if you have the name registered as a trademark. Talk to a lawyer.
If they're just holding your domain name hostage, then the first thing to do is look up your own domain at InterNIC. That will tell you who the registrant contact on the account is, but also who the sponsoring registrar is. If that's not yp.com (or whoever else is holding your domain hostage), then it's probably one of the big name domain registrars. In some cases, if you contact them with evidence the domain should be yours, they'll be willing to help you out.
Sadly, it's often best and easiest to pay whatever they ask to get the name transferred. If you paid them to register the domain for you, then it becomes a lot harder to sue them - but an experienced lawyer may still be able to help you. If your domain name is a registered trademark (or your personal name, which has some legal protection), then you have more of a chance of getting action. Also, if they offer to sell you the domain for an extortionate amount, that can be used against them.
Obviously, it's easier not to let anyone else, including YellowPages, register your domain name. But if you did - contacting a lawyer is your best course of action.
Not all website design companies will treat you like Yellow Pages. A good portion of our clients were once victims of Yellow Pages, and we've worked hard to convince them that not all online marketing and web design companies are bad. See how we stack up against Yellow Pages, and then drop us a line. We'll be happy to explain how and why our clients always receive a 5-Star Experience.