/ Hibu “Web Design” Scam

Thanks to a few comments on a now ageing ramble about Yell Web Design Being a Waste of Space, I decided to go off and do some of my own research into the over 1 million results on Google when searching for Scam. I searched Google for “web design by yell” – this being the footer tag each site contains which is designed by, note if you are doing the search you must include the quotation marks. I took the first 100 likely suspects and questioned which template they used. The results are interesting, if not predictable.

There are 4 types of template in use. Most of websites (65%) in this survey using it, is a 2 column design with a simple nav on the left and logo in the header. The second at 24% is a logo in the mast, a simple horizontal navigation and content in one or two columns below. The final 4% come with a third template which has a logo on the left, nav on the right, below the logo is an address and below the nav an image. The remaining 7% come under “other” these match aspects of each other and from the previous templates but not completely the same.

The templates vary with images and text, there is little variation on colour and slightly in layout – but they are the same.

Worth the Cost?

This depends what cost you are talking about, the cost for yell to design your website or the cost to your business through potential lost custom. Either way, the answer is no.

The basic package called “yellsites” is from just over £1 a day. That puts the minimum package around £400 – plus any adwords / sponsored listings you are sold too. But lets focus on just the website costs.

So at £400 or more you would expect something quite unique and built around your needs, yes? Well no, as we’ve seen above that isn’t the case, its all samey same and you have to supply everything – and chase them a lot to make changes.

Last week I saw a huge number of emails between Yell and a (then) customer. It was horrific, the story of a sole trader with a turnover of less than £20,000 sold a website for £800 with a £3000 package of adwords. The customer was just trying to get a few tweaks to a website, a change in background colour and an additional paragraph of text. Yell dragged their feet and only after a month of almost begging were the changes made. Following this the customer tried to break out of the contract citing many reasons, it was only the threat of lawyers that meant they eventually cancelled the contract – apparently yell still control the domain.

Going to yell for web design is clearly not a good idea, and is verging on the word SCAM.

I would like to thank everyone who has contacted me since my original post on this matter. I do try to reply to everyone, though it can take a week or so sometimes. Please do keep talking to me and leaving comments, the more I hear the more we build a case online that people should not trust these “mis-selling goons” who will squeeze as much money as possible from ANY possible business.

Update: Yell is changing it’s name to Hibu, the CEO says its pronounced “high boo” and that its meant to be the next words like “google and yahoo” which mean nothing at the start but will in years to come. We at SEOAndy ask whether Hibu will come to mean scammers or not, we predict it’s likely.

32 Comments on “ / Hibu “Web Design” Scam”

  1. Another thing to note is that its more like ‘rent a site’ from Yell.

    Most companies will charge you up front for web design – and then you are free to do what you want with it, host it where you like etc. Although up front costs can seem a bit daunting (especially for new businesses) they are far cheaper in the long run.

    For example, yellsites @ £400 for 5 years is £2,000 (including hosting and web design).

    Professional web designer / web design company – fairly good site @ £500 (one off payment) for 5 years is still £500. Hosting doesn’t have to cost a fortune. For example our packages start at £2.30/month. £2.30/month for 5 years is £138. Total cost for 5 years web design + hosting = £638.

    So, using the case study above, generic yell website for 5 years = £2,000. Professional bespoke web designer website for 5 years = £638.

    It’s a no brainer really.

    Plus as well, you’re locked in to Yell. If you want to move, well you’ll have to lose (at the minimum) your website design and hosting – i.e. you’ll have to pay for them both with someone else. Not sure whether you get to keep the domain – but there’s always the possibility you could lose that as well.

    Upfront investment in your website saves you much time, money and stress. And gives you a much better value product.

    1. Interesting observation and true. Take into account though for website I believe you pay upfront with yell anyway (could be wrong) so it’s not that much more.
      In terms of the domain I’ve handled a few of them, you can get it back through a route which can be quite laborious and it takes a while (about 2 weeks min). If they refuse to hand it back then you can also go official routes such as nominet and icann, though these can be just a teadious and you need to ask is the domain worth that hassle. Also if you’ve not paid up to date these places can rule in favour of yell (only seen one case of that and he owed about £500).

      Bottom line is, pay upfront and its cheaper in the long run, and you will likely get more control and more access.

      1. Ah right, I see. I thought that the ‘web design’ was on the same kind of PAYG basis as the web hosting – hence all rolled into one. You’re probably right.

        When I talked to them they seemed to imply this but maybe they do just make a one off charge for the ‘web design’.

        Either way, as you say – a professional bespoke website would still be cheaper (just maybe not as much cheaper as initially thought!!) and you end up with a far superior product.

        I was however told by Yell that they do not allow the websites they have designed to be hosted elsewhere. Hence, if you wanted to change your web host, you would still lose your website unless you decided to stay with them – locking you in with them.

        Yeah, I’ve seen a few unscrupulous web hosts / domain registrars hold domains to ransom (effectively) – not saying that Yell do this of course, but its one reason why you should always ensure you have control over your domain.

        As you’ve said, you’re likely to get your domain back, but do you want all the time, effort, stress and distraction in trying to get them to part with it ;).

        1. They may well have in the contract that its PAYG if you sign up for the year and the break clauses are cut out… so they are guaranteed income etc. I think as well to get the domain back you have to pay until the break clause / end of term or something.
          If anyone has a contract do send it to me 🙂

          In terms of the the site itself no they wont let you move it to another server. I know many designers/ devs who play by those rules too – to me if you are paid up then i’ve no issue giving you what you’ve paid for. Indeed if even offer a disc with the code on it for someone to take away as back up – no one has though, because they trust me 🙂

  2. I wrote a simialr post on my blog about this at
    The common theme in the comments was that Yellsites are cheap and people get what they pay for. As illustrated on this page, Yellsites most definately aren;t cheaper when you plan ahead.

    You’ve also touched on the hosting side of things too. When I was looking, they seem to host all their sites in America, probably because it costs pennies to them.

    I have 2 domains hosted with to transfer away – some of the stuff I;ve read up on this is simply scary. Wish me luck!

  3. regularly overcharge and underdliver. People go to them because they think they can trust the brand, and don’t know who else to trust.

  4. I got a quote off yell for £50 a month, that included a 5 page website that looked good, and was fully managed, a small ad in the book that comes next to nothing, and some prominence on for ‘accountant in manchester’….so I’m going to be on second who of which are on the top of google, will be on google places, and have my website seo’d with stats emailed to me…..that is a no brainer to me but if someone can do a better job, please get in touch

    1. Hi Adam, thanks for your comments – i’m sure anyone up for that challenge will be in touch with you. My advice though would be to read carefully the contract before signing, check for a set up fee and note how many changes you get in a given time frame, oh and another big thing is how quickly they respond and if you get a key point of contact or just have to call the call centre and hope for the best (as many do). Cheers. P.s. feel free to link us to your website when it goes live.

  5. I got roped into a Hibu/Yell website. One minute the guy on the phone was asking if I was interested, the next he had my bank details and that seemed to mark the contract. They guy who designed my website couldn’t spell and used !!!! like they were going out of fashion. He had no idea at all. Any way, the website went live after I practically wrote it (I should have told them to stuff it then but I believed their crap about a relationship with Google and how the website would pay for itself in a few months blah). After 3 months, nothing. Not a call. Nothing. Contacted them telling them I was not happy and as I believed they were in breach of contract please take down that bloody awful website and I am not paying you any more cash. Interestingly they don’t like responding by email. They harrass you by phone instead. I asked them to put everything in email but they didn’t. They disappeared when I said I was in discussion with Trading Standards, and then a few months later I get a letter from a debt recovery agency for the outstanding monthly direct debits. Have now emailed Hibu/Yell again threatening legal action. Whatever happens, I refuse to pay money to a company that not only actively rips people off, but is heading into the abyss of receivership themselves.

  6. Has anyone successfully challenged Hibu in the courts? If so could you let me know the details as I am currently considering action.

    1. Hi Paul
      As far as I know they always seem to stop things going to court, any posts i find on forums like this one ( ) end up with someone looking into them. Unfortunately unlike a few years ago the contracts are now much tighter with little wriggle room, I am aware though that BBC’s Watchdog maybe looking into this, so it maybe worth popping them an email ( ).

      I will keep my ear out, if you learn anything new do pop back and let us know!

      1. Thanks and I will keep you posted, I sent an email today demanding a reply from Hibu by the end of the week else I will seek legal advice. I will contact Watchdog I was already thinking about that.

  7. I had rep from Hibu round they are big scamming company how Yell have got connected with this mob I don’t know

    1. “since last year” fair enough Erin, its a good move in the right direction since this post has been around since 2012 and this post ( has been around since 2011. I’m not saying I don’t believe you and im sure the site says you offer it – but given I still get emails with stories about the issues with Yell/Hibu Web Design I don’t think it really matters in the grand scheme of things.
      The points in the post above are based on research, the other is my opinion on various bits and the comments on both these posts are from clients of Yell/Hibu, and their staff (and their staff trying to pretend to be customers and getting caught out). I am responsible with what I say in these posts, and what I say gets backed up with current and previous clients of Yell/Hibu.

      Thanks for your comment and refreshing the content a little.

      1. Maybe a little research should be done on the new premium sites they are now offering. The information provided on this site is outdated just like the old sites are. They are much improved now with a ton of flexibility. Maybe you should give them a chance, I’ve nothing but success with them!!!

        1. Nicole, I won’t reply to this really … “I’ve nothing but success with them” is a statement that is amusing as your linkedin profile says you work for Yellow Book (for UK readers this is the US arm of Yellow Pages) –
          And incase you feel like deleting your page – here’s a twitpic, I guess you guys will never learn about covering your tracks.

          Just for clarification as you have two linked in accounts –

  8. Haha, epeic spot and nice. Seems like this Yell employee is also commenting on other posts saying something that isn;t 100% positive about Yell/Hibu websites. E.g. the latest comment on their Google+ profile in response to “truly not sure why all this negative talk about hibu’s websites??? The previous sites are very outdated, however, their new sites are absolutely amazing! They allow you to go in and make changes as needed with no extra cost and really create the ground foundation for businesses online. I have had huge success with them, plus they offered me my money back, that’s how confident they were in the new sites.”
    If it was customers coming onto this post and saying Yell/Hibu are great you’d have to say fair enough. But the fact Yell/Hibu employees are coming on is kind of scary really.

  9. Hi Andy, I have been offered a hibu website this week. Sounds fantastic – extra traffic – more jobs – seo – even 400 search engines subscribed to then there is a 30second youtube video – sounds fab! But my gut feeling says no. I even picked up a couple of websites from the presentation and emailed both companies and to date no response, Nada ! One was William Rochester painter and decorator – I found the web address but no business found in the area the other – both have nice 30sec videos and presentation you need to check them out. I have even been told I could get to the top of page 1 – above above google places – this looks like a no brainer !!!!!! (but me thinks no!)

  10. hi Andy, i signed up 12 months ago what a waste of money, little to no work generated. When they sold me the site with a yell listing they said if anyone googled plumber dudley / stourbridge etc i would be on 1st page of google, well thats never happened. The only time they ever contacted me was yesterday to try and get more money out of me. The girl went through the performance of the web site with me and vertualy shot herself in the foot, she told me it had all the wrong wording to get me noticed, and that google had changed the way web sites were targetted with key words. this she said was about 6 months ago, when i said that it was hibu’s responsibility to manage the account and change the key words for me she said it wasn’t their fault unless i asked them to. She told me the web site should have 5 pages instead of 3 to increase traffic to it but they were managing it and i’d been paying for 5 pages. I am going to get in touch with the office of fair trading, and would also be willing to contact Watch Dog. Trades men seem to get bad press nowadays but if i charged someone £500 for fitting a bathroom but only fit a tap i guess Trading Standards would have something to say, Hibu sell you one thing but what you actually get is a different thing.

  11. Thanks for this information. I have been looking around for people with ‘actual’ experience of hibu and whether or not their ‘beacon tag’ marketing would be damaging or effective. I am always suspicious of requested cookie tag links being added to client sites. My client has signed up to Hibu and I suppose I have no choice but to bow to his wishes and put the code on the site ‘served by ipromote’ which on the face of it seems to be a simple banner advertising program.
    The interesting thing for me was when I searched for experience or reviews of hibu the first 3 -4 pages of Google results are all hibu blogs, hibu related, hibu employees and yell blogs, seemingly representing themselves as independent, though curiously all very positive about Hibu’s products.

    Seriously dodgy, I would never trust them, but somehow I have to convince my client that he may have wasted his money!

    After all this I still don’t know if their product is actually going to do my client good or harm. My worry is the latter!

  12. Beware of Web design services that also host the site, but don’t give you, the customer, full FTP access to all the files and the CGI code that makes the site work. It’s a scam to lock you in to their service and prevent you from moving your site to another hosting service. If you should fall into that trap, you may find yourself paying a second time to have the site reconstructed from scratch elsewhere should the hosting service fail or not meet your requirements. This is exactly what happened to an friend who runs a small business.

  13. So wish I had found this site before retaining HIBU to create a website for a new ecommerce division to my small business!. Awful experiences with HIBU despite providing a very clear brief, example websites then subsequently a ‘step by step’ guide on required content, images, position etc after they consistently provided ‘drafts’ that were not even remotely close to the brief I had provided, in fact, the information I had provided was completely ignored. Each draft looked like something created as part of a year 6 school project… at best!. In a last ditch attempt to help them out, I even proactively chose some templates from their own website and asked them to try one of their own templates, guess what?, they ignored that!. Despite my patience, I have today cancelled the contract with them as I feel 5 months to create ‘nothing’ is more than enough. Consequently, we are now left back at the drawing board, with a service that should have launched 2 months ago and no ecommerce website. Thanks HIBU for less than nothing!.

  14. I have had a terrible experience with hibu/yell.Purchased a site with SEO and apparently all bells and whistles to be found on Google and get more business so the site would pay for itself within months.
    What was actually provided was a substandard website which is on page 15 of Google at best with a phone number which is completely made up and has no connection to me whatsoever.
    I have tried to cancel and stopped the direct debit a while back as not being provided with the product I was sold. Now I have debt collection agencies after me and have been threatened with bailiff action, I refuse to pay for a product which is not performing to the standards it should and is not up to the specification I was sold.
    I have had 8 different hibu employees to date call me to try and resolve the issues, everytime the phone call ends with ‘ok I’ll have to look into this and get back to you with the results’ I don’t hear anything for a while until another hibu employee calls with no knowledge of the previous conversation and the same things are discussed again.
    The company is a joke, if I knew what I know now I would have never used them for anything.

    1. Hi Eltee,
      As you can no doubt tell from this post and the other on this site, as well as elsewhere, you are not alone in this boat. If you have any emails promising results or your contract says this it is worth looking at your options with a lawyer – you would certainly have grounds to both not pay what they are chasing you but also may get some money back too! But thats fairly rare i’ve found, indeed even just an email would suffice.

  15. Hey Andy – It’s Dan Vuksanovich, the Website Traffic Increaser Guy. Love seeing the same Hibu employees all over your comments as well (you exposed one of them as a Hibu employee in my post’s comments last year). Not sure if you ever had a chance to take a listen to the phenomenal rambling voicemail left for me by a Hibu employee in response to my post. It’s a jaw-dropper… and embedded in the post.

    1. Hi Dan
      Thanks for getting in touch again. That is nothing but hilarious, I’m fairly lucky to have had a quiet few months from yell and hibu trying to contact me. Maybe they can only fight us one at a time haha.

      Though I dare say we will both get a visit or two following these comments, we are prob on the hit list haha


  16. I recently sent them my cancellation notice and a letter asking for a refund.Why did I cancel the contract? The reason being no phone calls for my business during a 3 year period. I moved house from one area to another and requested that the site be updated with new contact phone number, address and area for my work. That was on or around the 27th September 2013, and it was only partially updated with a new phone number (now defunct…moved again, but same area) in April of 2015. That’s 18 months to wait to get something changed.
    A complete rip off. Waiting to hear from them about my request. Their billing department rang me yesterday, asking for this month’s payment, as I cancelled the direct debit to them. But after telling the woman what has happened and that I was waiting on a reply from their department that handles the cancellation, she decided not to pursue the payment, until the cancellation had been resolved.

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