Generally speaking, if you don’t have any blogs, your company is either too small and insignificant, or it’s brand new or you’ve changed your name and/or domain name to avoid bad blogs (which might be indicative that this company is actually a fraud).
Bottom line – if you’re in business and you’ve got a large number of customers and employees, you’ll get blogged! Try typing the words Disneyland scam in Google! This is the new world where anyone can get an email address, login to any blog and leave a comment of any nature and they are protected by the blog hosting company and the law.
There are typically four sources of bad comments posted on the Internet:
- A legitimate complaint
- An ex-employee leaving fraudulent damaging remarks
- A competitor leaving fraudulent damaging remarks
- A directory or other site extorting you
There is nothing wrong with legitimate complaints, customers should be allowed to vent their frustrations or notify other potential customers about bad businesses. This is a good thing. However, to provide real customers the opportunity to file complaints without any fear of retribution, complaint sites vehemently protect these customers by not allowing anyone access to their real identity. However, this creates a haven for ex-employees and competitors to leave fraudulent claims without any fear or accountability.
For an ex-employee or competitor to leave a very destructive complaint all it takes is to leave a comment on www.ripoffreport.com, www.scam.com,www.complaintwire.com or www.complaintboard.com, and this negative comment is likely to show up on the first page of Google by only typing your company name into Google. These complaint sites usually make sure that the words “complaint”, “fraud”, “scam” or something similar shows up with your company name in the search results.
Complaint sites are in business to make money so they do everything to get your business name to show up prominently on the first page of Google when visitors simply type in your company name. This is very damaging as prospective new customers searching for information on your business will see complaints immediately on the first page of Google. You will lose prospective new customers from online complaints – real or not!
So how do you determine which complaints are real? One of the best ways is to read the remarks and try to determine if the writing really seems to be an actual customer. If they have made specific complaints, address these with the company and see if you get satisfactory response from a company representative to this issue. Try calling their support department and sales departments to see if they are easily available and if they are knowledgeable in answering any questions or concerns. You may also attempt to speak to the president or owner regarding these concerns.
Since all large companies will have complaints, another way to determine how to put these in perspective is to compare these complaints to the company’s transparency regarding guarantees, policies, and availability to solve issues. If it’s a false complaint it may be directly contradictory to the Company’s published guarantees or policies. The more transparent the website, the better.
Sometimes you can determine if a blog is fraudulent when the blog source shows up a large number of times or over time. A good query for this is to put your company name in quotes then the bloggers name in quotes in Google and see what this yields. For example put this query in Google: “Your Company Name” “Blogger Name”.
In our case when we put in the search terms in Google, “Performance Media Placement” “YouCannotFoolMe”, we received numerous posts on various websites. The reason this ex-employee is doing this is to create links with our name in it to put as much negative presence against us as he can. Clearly, no disgruntled customer would spend their days posting remarks forever. If you read this blog and compare the complaints to what we publish openly on our site, you’ll see a big contraction.
If a competitor leaves remarks, a smart competitor will usually sign up for multiple email accounts and leave a succession of complaints with different names over time, making it almost impossible to determine if the complaints are real. You might see common complaints with almost identical phrases indicating that multiple complaints are coming from the same author disguising themselves as multiple authors. Disgruntled customers may post a few negative comments in different locations, but usually won’t go out of their way to post under different names or on many locations.
Despite doing your best; complaints will come from customers who simply don’t see things your way. One of our complaints comes from a past customer, who after four months of service with our company, emailed the sales rep who sold him a Google AdWords marketing campaign to cancel his campaign. Unfortunately this sales rep was on leave at the time tending to his father, who had stage four cancer. The way we found out that there were any problems with this customer was when we received a chargeback from his credit card company and two negative blogs showed up on the Internet. Despite the fact that our 800 number is on this customer’s credit card statement and on every page of our website, this customer never tried calling us and resolving any issues.
Directories are often a source of negative information, sometimes created by the directories themselves as a way to get business to pay them to remove this information. This is extortion! Yelp! & the BBB have recently come under fire for extorting businesses to join for the purpose of removing negative comments on their sites; comments which they generated. A quick Google search of “Yelp extortion” or “BBB extortion” yields numerous complaints. A Google search of “Yelp lawsuit” shows a continuous stream of lawsuits from business which they have extorted. Below are some quick references on Yelp and the BBB’s tactics.
This link is to a Business Week article on Yelp’s tactics of extortion.
This link is to a documentary on the BBB by 20/20, shown in November 2010.
In summary, it’s a buyer and business beware world out there, fueled by the power of anonymous free speech with absolutely no accountability.