Merchant Circle calls off calling campaign

Filed in Local Search by Matt McGee on October 4, 2006 20 Comments

Merchant Circle logoMerchant Circle, which has been beleaguered for the past week due to a really bad marketing campaign that involved cold-calling unsuspecting business owners with a pre-recorded message alerting them to negative reviews/ratings on the Merchant Circle web site, said tonight on its own blog that the calling campaign is over — and that’s just one thing the company says it’s doing to address what happened last week.

The others involve renaming “reviews” (which could be positive or negative) as “testimonials” (which would generally encourage a positive reply), better responses to upset/concerned business owners, and a promise of more changes based on user suggestions.

Whether all of that will heal the black eye Merchant Circle has remains to be seen.

What I want to comment on briefly is the response from many of the businesses on the receiving end of MC’s phone campaign. Merchant Circle is taking “remove my listing” requests from business owners who don’t want to be on the site. Other business owners on Battelle’s Search Blog talked about filing complaints with their attorney general.

Overreaction is often the easiest response, but the solution is not to remove your listing. The solution is to take control of your information on sites like Merchant Circle — and the many others that also show your business information without needing permission to do so. The solution is to harness the power of user reviews on these sites. The solution is to get out there and find your customers, then participate with them — be part of the conversation.

The solution is not to pull all your listings from these sites because you got an inappropriate phone call. Pulling your listings — like burying your head in the sand — hurts nobody but yourself.

[tags]local search, small business, online marketing, participation marketing, merchant circle[/tags]

Comments (20)

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  1. Scott says:

    They are at it again!!!!! I just got a call from them, after I finally got them to stop calling me three years ago. This time they cahnged the story, but not much. They said a company contacted them to see if I’m a legitimate business, and MerchantCircle needs all my info to verify.

    I am a professional photographer, with a massive portfolio online, so there is no way someone is not going to believe I’m a real business.

    Someone (BBB?) should permanently put this company out of business.

  2. Dave says:

    I get this call all the time at home (church parsonage) and at church…Both numbers are on the DNC list. It is from Merchan Circle. I called back the number and they have an opt out on the message. Wonder if it will really work or not. Anyway, Merchant Circle is…Administrative Contact :
    WYBS, Inc.
    v86d43fv4t2@networksolutionsprivateregis tration.com
    ATTN: MERCHANTCIRCLE.COM
    c/o Network Solutions
    P.O. Box 447
    Herndon, VA 20172-0447
    Phone: 570-708-8780
    I Just did more research. Network Solutions is the company that owns Merchant Circle.com. The domain name is based out of Herndon Va. I googled the company, and guess what…REAL PHONE NUMBERS!!! Give them a call..here they are
    (703) 668-5505, (703) 668-4600, (703) 925-6999

  3. SC says:

    Dave, Network Solutions does not own the company, they are simply listed as the registrar, because they are the largest domain management company for the internet. They are really not affiliated at all with Merchant Circle. Network Solutions is very legitimate and VERY large. If you look at any number of millions of website domains, you will find most of them have Network Solutions information listed as the contact info, because NEtwork Solutions gives domain registrars the option to keep information private.

    To read more about Network Solutions, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_Solutions

  4. Matt McGee says:

    Yes – SC is correct here. Dave – Network Solutions doesn’t own Merchant Circle. Merchant Circle is a privately-owned company which recently received substantial funding from IAC, the company that Barry Diller owns, which also runs sites like Ask.com, CitySearch, Ticketmaster, and many others. Hope this helps.

  5. onewhohasbeenliedtotoomanytimes says:

    I do not care how much this company may help some out there, they have blatantly lied to me for years now with the “someone has left you a review on merchant circle bla bla bla”. I havent checked on their for like months now since they have lied all this time. Now I got the same verification message……I googled their site for reviews…..wouldnt you know, still no reviews for me! I refuse to give these liars any of my info no matter how much it can help my business. I refuse to do business with LIARS. I cant even believe people go on there after they have been lied to also. Well in these days, morals really dont matter so I can see them not caring either and go on there to promote their business. Had to vent after I found this article. This company doesnt deserve to be successful. The good ones are struggling while the scammers prosper.

  6. Dave says:

    Merchant Circle is downright DISGUSTING…their site is really slick, and they’ve obviously invested time/effort into creating something that, if managed properly, could really have been something special.

    it’s just disgusting how they are treating their own customers.

  7. I have been using Merchant Circle for a year now. I can say they offer a good amount of value with their profile such as:
    – helps online reputation
    – generates good local exposure

    However I have tested their paid listings (with PPC) and have found that it does not bring a good ROI at all…I tested 2 clients (with their permission of course! :o) – a florist and lawyer and then I looked at the PPC visitors they received…not good at all.

    Anyway, they might be agressive with their new business developement sales tactics but they are worth having a free online profile.

    This is my 2 cents! Thanks!

  8. Sam says:

    I have a free ad and taking time with it. I have two sales so far. Very happy to have the info above and thank everyone involved…. lets hope M/C one day is worth its own hype…so far I DO NOT see it.

  9. Just Me says:

    MerchantCircle is up to it again it seems.

    Got a call 2 days ago from a live rep from MerchantCirle. I didn’t have time to speak and the call was unsolicited.

    They were not interested in me at all and kept talking. I had to tell them bye.

    Next day I get an email informing me of a review of my company, sure enough 1 star, horrible review from someone that never used our services. We don’t have any reviews and our clients do not find us through Merchant Circle, sso we figure its Merchant Circle Representative posting because we did not purchase what they were selling.

    Business need to be aware that Merchant Circle practices are unethical and evidently they are setting up a database for merchants when they only care about bringing in money for themself or they will do whatever they must to bring your company to its knees, every with false negative posts.

    That company needs a rework from the core if its going to provide a real service that peoplke will use and then pay for, the way the operate now, makes you just run away from them whiole reporting them on Posts, Blogs and the BBB.

    Clean up your act Merchant Circle or close down shop!

  10. John says:

    Please note that the above-listed phone information is incorrect. The phone numbers are for Network Solution and they DO NOT own Merchant Circle. Network solutions provided me with information for the hosting company. It is :
    Silicon Valley Colocation, Inc.
    PO Box 390804
    Mountain View, CA 94039

    I will post more as I find it.

  11. John says:

    I have spoken with Silicon Valley Colocation. Due to the way that Merchant Circle hides information, they were unaware of the issue. They have asked that complaints be filed so that they have a record of them. Complaints can be filed to:

    abuse-team@svcolo.com

  12. John says:

    I have spoken with Silicon Valley Colocation. Due to the way that Merchant Circle hides information, they were unaware of the issue. They have asked that complaints be filed so that they have a record of them in order to take action. Complaints can be filed to:

    abuseteam@svcolo.com

  13. SC says:

    I just got a new call from them last night
    (I am the same SC and Scott posted above).
    Their new schtick is “Somehow has posted a video of your business on our website”.

    This time I am filing formal FCC charges against this company. I encourage everyone else who has requested to be removed and still gets calls from Merchant Circle, or if you are on National or Local No-call Lists, to go to the FCC website and file a complaint against these scumbags.

    http://esupport.fcc.gov/complaints.htm

  14. Steve says:

    I did a little digging around on the Merchant Circle site. You can get your phone number placed on their Do-Not-Call list from the following link: http://www.merchantcircle.com/optout/remove?reason=optout.

    And totally removed from the following link: http://www.merchantcircle.com/optout/remove/.

  15. SC says:

    I’ve filled out both of those forms in the past, yet they keep calling me. I also filled out the “remove company listing” form, yet my company profile still stays there. These people have no ethics.

  16. Laura says:

    I am a certified business. I certianly don’t need any verification on my part to know I am a legit business. Been in this business since 2003. These phone calls had better stop…If someone in my town (Jackson,Michigan) want to know if I am in business, they can check the phone book…ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!

  17. James says:

    I have been listed on Merchantcirle for a year now and have had nothing but the best of service. I don’t see why all of you have had so many problems. I went form 10-15 interested customers visits to my site to now more then 4075 per month. I am able to send out news letters to my customers, run new coupons ads, Blog, link up with other businesses in the area and my ad run on there web page and vise verse. I have uploaded pic of my work and equipment. I run a small business in Sioux Falls SD. I spend anywhere form 1-4 hrs a week on it. Run a google search for ( Dust Mites Sioux Falls ) and I am on top with my merchantcirle listing. or ( steam cleaning Sioux falls ) Maybe you should take sometime to look your own listing. I used to spend $190 mo in the local paper and I got nothing. Now I spend nothing but some (time) and get great results.

  18. Matt McGee says:

    Hi James – no one really takes issue with the service they offer. I’ve heard other stories like yours. What people find objectionable are their marketing tactics, which amount to a scare campaign to get small businesses owners to visit the site and create an account so that MC can inflate its traffic and membership numbers, making itself appear more valuable to possible purchasers.

  19. Maybe someone is envy with and sabotage the services they offer…hmmm

  20. john bueche says:

    merchant circle, charging my credit card without authorization. Very hard to get them to stop. They have over 200 bbb complaints!

    Evil company, Stay Away

    Stay away

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