Missouri Trout Hunter

Blog for sharing thoughts, beliefs and opinions on issues affecting the world of trout fishing in the Ozarks.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Merchant Circle Cheeses Me Off!

My apologies fellow trout hunters, but this entry has nothing to do with trout fishing. It has to do with unethical business practices, and I just had to sound off.

Yesterday (9/26/06) I recieved an automated phone call on my Ozark Taxidermy phone line which basically said, "this phone call is to alert you that a customer has logged on at Merchant Cirle dot com and left you negative feedback. Please log on to www.merchantcircle.com to review your feedback." Of course, that's not an exact quote, but it's fairly close. I absolutely rely on word-of-mouth advertising for my taxidermy business to flourish, so I jumped online immediately to check it out. I found absolutely no feedback, positive or negative, associated with my business at all. So, in other words, they lied to me to get me to visit their website.

I did a google search for "Merchant Circle" and found a blog apparently run by a consultation company working on behalf of Merchant Circle. Click HERE to visit their blog. There was a comment that there was no security to make sure only the business owner laid claim to his company's listing, so I quickly went back to Merchant Circle to "claim my listing" to make sure no one else did anything goofy with it. I then returned to the blog and posted my own complaint regarding the "negative feeback" phone call I received.

I went back to their blog late last evening to see if there was a response. There was no response from the company, but there were about a dozen more complaints just like mine. I guess that means they had just started this little tricky marketing campaign of theirs. I went back to visit their site this afternoon (9/27/06), and discovered three things which just blew me away. First, they deleted every comment that mentioned the "negative feedback" spam phone calls. Second, I am now blocked from placing additional comments -- I'm assuming the others are, as well. Third, they posted their own article implying that I and the other complaintants were either lying or fictional characters. They even mentioned me by name (I'm so proud).

This article is linked from "comment 12" on their blog, which is where my comment originally appeared. You can read the complete text of the article by clicking HERE and it's titled "I Smell a Rat: Fake ‘Complaints’ Re Merchant Circle". In the article, the author writes

"The commenters typically have return email addresses that have different ISPs and domain names, and have different IP addresses. They are good spoofers, but most tend to be “too interesting.” None responded to my requests for verification. Moreover, few have phone numbers or websites attached to them. Most of the comments also have the same “voice” in them.

I can't speak for the others, of course, but this guy never tried to contact me to verify anything. And my comment had my name, phone, website and email address attached -- I actually LIKE publicity, after all. They deleted the comments and authored and posted their article less than 24 hours after I posted my comment, which is pretty fast to draw the kind of conclusions he's apparently made. Or, I suppose the other possibility is that he's simply not telling the truth.

In a nutshell, I'm amazed at this company and their client. I sent them an email that pretty much mirrors what I've written here. I ask that you pass this on to any interested parties that these two companies should not receive our business. It's like living with a two-year old. If he throws a fit and you give him a cookie, you're training him to throw more fits. Please, don't give these people any cookies.

Again, my apologies. I promise the next post will be about trout fishing!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me again. For the record, the article that I referenced and linked to above ("I smell a rat...") has been edited to reflect that at least some of the complaints and complainers were legitimate, and the author removed my name from the list of suspected spoofers. I'm actually a bit disappointed that they didn't leave the original article posted so you could FEEL my rage with me!


3:55 PM  

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