Caveat Emptor- Buyer Beware- Get your Eyes Checked before you commit!

At a trade group meeting I met with one of my colleagues from the West Coast. He said that he had seen a lot of business coming in from getting his business listed in Yelp!. Upon returning to my office, I decided that I needed to do the same. I thought to myself “You have been doing this for 23 years. Your clients love you! This should be a no brainer!”. Well, unfortunately for me, the last five words proved to be prophetic.

As I was going through the process of getting my business listed on YELP!, I saw that they offered to boost views of your business profile if you bought advertising from them. I assumed – and we all know what happens when you assume (ass- u -me) – that it would be just like pay per click on Google or Bing. WRONG. It turned out that it was a budget that you put out and that they would bill you for regardless of whether anybody clicked on your ad or not. I use Google Analytics to monitor our site. I know where and who is referring, where people come in and where people leave. Who stays on the page and who bounces out. I monitor the Google Analytic religiously – almost with an OCD like focus. The first month, nothing. The second month, two referrals and the third month 3 referrals from Yelp. However, I didn’t think to track the results with the charges coming in on the company credit cards. OOPS! Almost $1500 in charges over three months.

It turns out that Yelp will bill your card – regardless of the result. I paid over $1500 over three months for what amounted to six leads. OUCH!

I am not one to complain when I make a bad decision. I look to collaborate and make things right. I never would dream of taking a client’s hard earned money and not doing the very best for them. As a matter of fact, when you go on Yelp- you see businesses trying to make it right with their own dissatisfied clients all over the place. I called up Yelp. Spoke to a very nice person- but guess what? They don’t have any intention of making it right. They only try to sell you more services. As a matter of fact, you can’t even review Yelp or your experiences with Yelp on their site. So much for transparency. It reminds me of the bully on the playground being bullied by others “You can dish it out but you can’t take it”. Nananana….

On the Internet, I found forums where the experience I had just had was repeated by many other businesses across the country. It was almost uncanny- everyone was pretty technical, pretty Internet SEO savvy, not new to online business, not a Luddite. Apparently, there is also no legal remedy. Yelp has been very successful in controlling the litigation against them.

So, what have I learned?

  1. Read the fine print. Don’t assume that just because something works one way on Google that it will work that way across platforms.
  2. Let the baker bake the bread. If you’re not an expert, hire an expert. They are less expensive and they are accountable for the results.
  3. Don’t let your expectations cloud your judgement. Verify and know your numbers.
  4. Don’t assume because something works one way for someone else, it will work that way for you.
  5. Make sure you have an exit strategy if something happens know who you are going to call and what they can do for you.

Now, I really feel that everything happens for a reason. I understand that what we provide for our clients answers those five criteria. We explain to our customers in plain English what are all of the terms and conditions. We are the experts when it comes to migrating our clients to cloud unified communications. We manage the expectations and know when to set them high on reliability and performance. We always verify before we cut over- we test the circuits, we measure the quality and we verify the numbers. And…if the organic matter hits the ventilation system, we always have our client’s interests in mind and will fight for them to make them happy.

So, the take away for you is: read the fine print. Make sure you understand the terms and conditions. Make sure you understand the billing model. Make sure you can hold your provider accountable.

We still continue to business in the cloud – but we work with our clients the old fashioned way. Face to face. Technology or not, it is business. A hard hitting contact sport.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Vic Levinson
Telecommunications and IT professional with over 20 years experience in Business Telecommunications. Specializing in voice over IP (VoIP) for business: hosted VoIP, business VoIP phone systems, SIP providers, carriers, T1's - the works. Founded Prime Telecommunications in 1993 and providing business communications solutions. Cloud Applications- everything from hosted network security, hosted Disaster Recovery, hosted printer management, data centers and colocation solutions for businesses.

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