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Archive for the ‘Buyer Beware’ Category

Still Looking for the Magic Pill

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Business owners are constantly bombarded with marketing messages from companies in our industry:

“#1 Google Rankings Guaranteed!”
“5000 Facebook Followers in a Week!”
“Get Rid of Negative Reviews!”

Yelp released a PSA to their business owners warning of reputation management companies who claim to work with Yelp to perform services such as removing negative reviews, boost ratings, etc.   We get these same SPAM emails, and we also get phone calls from people claiming to be with Google.  Not because they really think we need their help, but because they are blanketing the world with their scams in hopes to find those consumers still looking for the magic pill to solve all their marketing pains.  Think about your marketing solutions like this:  Remember those burn-fat-at-nite pills didn’t work for you, but exercise and a smart diet did?  Your marketing solutions are going to present themselves in the exact same way.  Fads will waste your time and money, but dedication and strategic planning will begin to solve your daily business challenges.

The content of the Yelp PSA is below for your reading enjoyment:yelp

Important Public Service Announcement
Darnell Holloway, Business Outreach

We’ve recently seen several new reports about “reputation management” companies that claim to work with Yelp to remove your negative reviews, recommend certain reviews, or otherwise boost your ratings for a fee (of course!). If you’re wondering how these companies can make good on this offer, the answer is simple: they can’t. Consumer trust is our top concern, so businesses can’t pay Yelp or any third party to alter or remove their reviews. It’s also worth noting that brazen attempts to manipulate ratings and reviews on Yelp could result in a Consumer Alert being placed on your business profile.

If you’ve been contacted by someone offering something along these lines, we’d love to get the details so we can prevent them from preying on others. Please use this form to loop us in. For general questions, contact our user support team at www.yelp.com/contact.

Finally, as we’ve said in the past, the best strategy for reputation management is to provide great customer service and respond diplomatically to your reviewers.

Deceptive Foistware Really Grinds My Gears

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Since everyone is up in arms because Brian got “killed off” Family Guy (come on people, Stewie has a time machine!) I’m going to take this opportunity to tell you what really grinds my gears.  Sure, I know it’s the eve before Thanksgiving and I’m supposed to be spending the whole month of November posting on Facebook what I’m thankful for, but this is important! 

People inadvertently download crapware to their computers all the time without knowing any better.  Websites deceptively place ads around the real download, and software vendors automatically bundle other software with their download unless you read the fine print and uncheck a small box before you start downloading. 

Sure, I understand if someone is letting me download their software for “free” it’s a way for them to make money.  But how about giving us an option to download something that is valuable, won’t take over control of my web browser, and/or conflict with other software already on my computer?  Huh?  How about that??  And don’t be fooled, it’s not just the little guys trying to make a buck.  The big boys are notorious for this practice too.  Kudos to ZDNet for calling out Skype, Adobe and Oracle for these practices.

Here are some examples of how you are tricked to install things like the Ask Toolbar, Babylon Toolbar and other malware:

CNET is a place that comes up well in searches if you’re looking for a popular piece of software to download.  Unfortunately they strategically place ads that are more prominent and have language surrounding the ads that is designed to confuse less savvy users.  Which of the highlighted areas should I click on to begin my download?

When updating Adobe Flash you are taken to this screen during the installation process, which if you are in a hurry and ignore, will cause you to inadvertently install McAfee.  Doesn’t Adobe already make enough money from us?

Here is an example of how you can be prompted to install the Ask Toolbar.  You should never, ever install the Ask Toolbar!  You need a PhD to get it off your computer once it’s taken over.

And finally, I saved the WORST for last: the Babylon Toolbar.  If you have this on your computer, have your IT person clean it off immediately!   Unfortunately if you do a search for “how to remove the Babylon toolbar” it’s possible you will go to a site that will prompt you to download software to remove it, and you will inadvertently download something even worse.  So if you don’t know what you’re doing, have someone help you who does.

Often when I’m with a client at their office I see their Internet Security application or other critical application popup and say “Update Now”.  Almost always they close the window without running the update.  I ask them why they don’t update and the response I most often get is, “I’m afraid to update things because I end up downloading something that breaks my computer.”  Foistware is directly responsible for that sentiment.  If people are afraid to update their computers because they have been trained to think they are going to accidentally break their computers, then we have a bunch of computers that are open to security vulnerabilities.