Free Business Listing SCAN, or SCAM?

As a managing partner of Aeon Internet Marketing, one of my jobs is to protect my clients from scams in the internet world.  I am a natural protector and I enjoy it.  Interestingly enough, the role I’ve assumed has resulted in more than a handful of friends and business owners calling on me regularly for advice.  I’m all too happy to help.

Over the years I have built many relationships.  The most rock solid of all seem to be with the many who continue to call on me with confidence in my ability to properly evaluate and solve just about any problem.  From business opportunities, to speeding tickets, to a potential scam, I get some pretty interesting calls.

Lately, one question I am asked at least a few times a week is: “What’s the deal with Yext’s YP, Manta, Yelp’s free business listing scan for errors?”  You know, the message that pops up on various social media platforms, or in your e-mail inbox asking you if you would like to “Scan all your business listings for errors”?  You’ve seen it haven’t you?  Like a lot folks, I’m sure you’ve wondered what exactly this message meant, especially since the tag line says: “FREE. Scan your business listings for errors”, or something similar.  What harm can be done?  Then you participate and somehow begin to feel like your business is in trouble.  It’s unnerving because as a concerned business / practice owner you want to tighten up the ship, right?  You want your listings to be correct and have no interest in any potential customer / client receiving wrong information about your business or practice.  All you need is one more distraction!

First it is important to understand some basics as they relate to the many places you can take advantage of listing your business online.  There are roughly 50-100 legitimate FREE business directories that will allow you to create a profile and list your business.  The listings are valuable to a greater or lesser degree because they help your become more visible to those seeking your products and/or services.  And to briefly touch on why these listings are important, just think back to high school and how so many made attempts to become popular.  The internet is more or less a big popularity contest, so essentially the more places you are seen, the more easily you are noticed and can be found.

Anyway, while setting up these listings is a service Aeon provides, we prefer charging nothing for it.  We would much rather walk a business owner through the process of setting up these listings.  It’s the “teach a person to fish” analogy.  The great thing is that once you’ve done a few, the rest become a lot more simple and routine to create.  We’ve seen that the more listings a business owner creates, the better the visibility of his, or her business or practice.

OK. Getting back to the SCAN, or SCAM subject, I think it is also important (especially for new business owners) to know that very few things are actually free with no strings attached.  FREE things tend to come with up-charges.  And while these up-charges may not surprise us like they did ten years ago, they can still be pretty irritating.  Such is the case with the listing scans offered by Yext, Manta, YP and most commonly, Yelp.  The fine print with these companies is a killer for business owners who don’t read them.  Honestly, it takes a savvy attorney to understand the terminology even enough to agree to terms with these companies.  What irritates me most however, is that on the outside the advertisement itself looks harmless.  We see it, we click it, we scan our listings, and WHAMO, we have 193 (hypothetical) errors!  Holy schnikeys! 193 errors!  But wait! Then comes the pop up – “We can ‘Fix” those errors for a small fee!”  Sounds reasonable, right?  I mean businesses have to make money  after all.  These are legitimate businesses (I make no claims otherwise) so what the heck?  Why not just do it, get everything corrected and be done with it?  THAT is the lure here.  Make no mistake.

The equation: FREE scan, small fee to correct errors, why not?  Well, YOU ignored the fine print, didn’t you? Yesssssss.  We all do at one time or another.  Who has the time it takes to look over every inch, or even wants to spend the money to send to an attorney to help minimize or eliminate liability or damage?  Most don’t, and so they click!  Once they click, they’re locked in. Once you’re locked in, you’re in for some big surprises.

What shocks me most are the numbers of people that ignore reviews on large companies like these.  Why are these ignored? Laziness?  I hate to imagine.  Unfortunately, companies like these COUNT ON that ignorance, because ignorance locks you in to an agreement you can’t understand; one where you can be manipulated to then spend money.  You’ll be forced into up-charges said to be used to “Keeping your listings current” or “Maintain your listings”.  Ha!  That’s one of the biggest crocks going.  What nonsense.  They make it sound like you actually needed some expert help with those.  Crazy!

The truth is, you don’t need these companies for either of those things, or to even fix what THEY call listing errors on the many different directories your company appears.  You don’t need them because it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do it.  Oh they’ll make it sound as if you do, or push your “I have no time to do that” button, and many businesses just say:  “What the heck, why not?”  But once again, what you didn’t count on was the fine print, and being locked in.  So do I think it’s a scam?  I’d call it more of a very shady bait and switch, similar to buying a car at a new car dealership.  The paper says: “BMW, 3 Series. Leather Interior, power windows, 25,500”.  WOW!   You get to the dealership and THAT car was jusssssst sold!  Fortunately…. the dealership has another one to show you.  What a surprise! It’s NO longer 25.5 for the car you wanted, it’s 31.5.  But they got you into the dealership, didn’t they?  The FREE business listing scan is not much different folks.  It preys on your apprehension and tugs at your fears as a business owner. DON’T FALL FOR IT! Call us, and we’ll walk you through set up of your 3 FREE business listings and not charge you a dime.  It takes about 15 minutes.  Our hope is that by a show of good faith, you might at some point call us for help with a website re-design, or maybe help with something that is stressing you out in your business or practice.

We want to be the aspirin for all your headaches, though we give you our word that we won’t attempt to sell you anything on the call.  Promise!

I hope this article saves time and stress for those caught, or almost caught by the net these companies toss out.

Until next time, I hope you flourish and prosper beyond your expectations.

Have a strong finish to your week.

 

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