BizzSpot & BBB taking a page from the Merchant Circle playbook
November 22nd, 2008 by
BBB, BizzSpot partnership takes a shady tack to entice local businesses.
So, it’s taken me a few days to get back to this, but I was blown away by a recent cold-call from a company purporting to be the marketing arm of the Better Business Bureau.
I think everybody knows that the BBB is a commercial venture, but this was a little over the top.
Here’s why I liken it to Merchant Circle: The caller says “This is Valerie calling for William Scott. Calling on behalf of the better business bureau if you could please contact me at 888-xxx-xxxx. Thank you.”
Message from Valerie of BBB (.wav file)
Notice, nowhere does the caller indicate she’s calling to sell me something. So here I am presuming it’s something about a complaint or a renewal or something.
I feel compelled to get back to them.
Surely it’s not as bad as Merchant Circle telling me I’ve got bad reviews, but c’mon, why else would the BBB be calling.
So I call Valerie back and she instantly goes into how she’s so excited to hear from me because we are a search marketing company. She then asks me how I would self identify and I say “internet marketing” and she walks me into a search for “New Orleans Internet Marketing” (for which we’re second organically and #3 on the map behind neworleansinternetmarketing [dot] com which I feel pretty good about given our low level of effort).
She blows right past that and then walks me through an examples of a search for a “Local Handyman in Columbus OH
” at which point she shows me a sponsored listing in the right hand margin at about half-mast. In the example it’s at least top of page.
Clearly I was impressed. Makes my organic and earned map ranking pale in comparison, no? 😉
So I asked “how much”? And I think she said $195.00 a month! Really though, it’s a bargain compared to $300.00 for Yelp! I’m not 100% sure that was the quoted amount and I may call back just because.
Like a dope I hustled to get off the phone. She offered to let me talk to a specialist and I said no rather than sticking around to get the real dope.
Then I decided to do a little more digging. I backed out from “Local Handyman in Columbus OH” (a little long-tail to get much bang for that $195) and tried something more likely “Handyman Columbus OH” I saw our sponsored link and two 10 pack listings for different advertisers on BizzSpot: “Affordable Handyman” and “Handyman Professionals”. The website address on the “Handyman Professionals” listing goes to some guy in San Francisco (?!).
And, the on-page optimization is awful — no h1, bad title — a generally weak offering.
In short, I’m confused. BBB & BizzSpot have put together what looks like a mediocre listing product, with some attempt at distribution.
It seems as though the BBB is taking advantage of its members in a Merchant Circle style approach to position a weak eLocalListing knockoff at 4X the price. I know it’s not the eLocal co-brand because Steve would never let such drek out the door.
If anyone else has gotten this call and stuck around to listen to the full rap I’d love to hear about it.
[…] approach have made complaints to the Better Business Bureau. But irony of ironies, Will Scott posts about automated calls he received from BizzSpot invoking the name of the BBB. When returned (out of […]
CAN YOU PLEASE HELP ME? I AM A LITTLE CONFUSED ABOUT WHAT YOUR POINT IS. I HAD A SIMILAR EXPERENCE HERE IN GULFPORT, MS AND I WOLD LIKE TO KNOW IF THERE IS A CHEEPER WAY TO DO THE SAME THING? PLEASE EMAIL ME OR CALL ME AT 228-209-079 JAY
This is a pretty accurate rendering of the call we received in January, just after renewing with the BBB this year. We were definitely led to believe they were hand-in-hand with this “marketing offering.”
Just today (August 20!) I realized how my inattention to detail has cost me dearly. I found a webpage (looks like a very poor version of a landing page) for our business. Our web address was misspelled, yielding a “page error” message, and the word “electrical” was misspelled at least twice in our business description.
I had a terrible chore to find out where the site had originated–neither of our two authorized web-optimizers were responsible. When I clicked on the “check our rating” button, it took me to a non-public BBB page with information on it that was supposedly confidential.
The BBB was my next call–and they were clearly NOT involved in the production of the mess.
FINALLY I found a link to checkourrating.com and bizzspot.com that was an accurate link, and found the monthly charges that I thought were to BBB every month for the last seven on my Discover Card. A phone number from the CC company helped me actually locate the culprits.
This is not only copyright infringement, but outright fraud. They are not providing quality anything, the information is inaccurate and unprofessional, and they have been passing themselves off as officially related to the BBB!
Resolution will be a headache, but hopefully will help shut this bogus company down.
I’m glad I read this information and comments today, June 22nd, 2012. I was contacted by this company, led to believe they were working with the BBB, and offered a contract, $249 a month, for 1 year.
Don’t think I’ll be signing this one!
H1 tag? 1990 called and they want their optimization back. Google is context sensitive. Tags and titles are not relevant to organic rankings
Thanks for your feedback. Given this was written in 2008, 6 years ago, it is probably historically relevant.