Strange goings-on with Merchant Circle

Filed in Local Search by Matt McGee on September 27, 2006 224 Comments

Merchant Circle logoLet me tell you a story about a brief-but-strange part of my day today….

At about 4:30 pm, Kim from our front office (at OWT) came back to my office to tell me about a strange voicemail we’d just received. I was busy reading through my Bloglines, but my ears perked up when she explained that the voicemail was a pre-recorded message explaining that someone had just posted a negative review about us on Merchant Circle.

Kim assumed it was some kind of crank call; she’d never heard of Merchant Circle before. I think she was surprised by my interest and the questions I asked her about the call. I told her Merchant Circle was a legitimate company / web site, and that they offer marketing opportunities for small businesses in the local search niche. (Not in those exact words, mind you.) 🙂

So, we went to the MC web site and checked the two OWT listings, but neither had any negative reviews (and they still don’t). End of story, we figured. Must’ve been a mistake.

I went back to Bloglines, and less than a minute later stumbled on Peter Krasilovsky’s post today, I Smell a Rat: Fake ‘Complaints’ Re Merchant Circle. Bizarre coincidence, n’est-ce pas?

If I’m reading Peter’s post correctly, he’s getting a lot of complaints about this automatic notification phone call that Merchant Circle makes when a review is posted … but he thinks the complaints are fake. On the other hand, our experience today — a phone notification but no actual reviews — seemed to be a fake.

So, what’s this all about? I know someone (or some people) from Merchant Circle has read Small Business SEM in the past (because I had to delete a couple blog comments that were too heavy on the advertising). If anyone from MC is still reading, I would love to know what’s going on here with the phone alerts, the complaints, etc.


John Battelle has also posted about this, also because he was getting a bunch of comments on his blog from upset business owners. Merchant Circle CEO Ben Smith replies in the comments, suggesting that the calls are an attempt to inform merchants that they have listings/reviews, but admitting to some “unintended consequences” and “execution issues.” I’ll say….

And if you want to see an angry mob in action, check out the old Battelle post where all the business owners are replying.

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

Comments (224)

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  1. RAAlsop says:

    My number is listed on the FTC do not call registry. Today I received an automated voice-mail message from 866-849-3243 (this number traces to Xpedite, which apparently Merchant Circle is using for spam messages) telling me that a review had been posted to my Merchant Circle account. (I don’t have a Merchant Circle account.) Following the instructions, I logged on and found that there was no such review. Conclusion: this was a spam voice mail message intended to drive traffic to the MC site. Now when the MC owners begin talking to suitors about a buy-out for some astronomical price that is based on traffic at the site, my little mouse-click (which was induced by a bogus mail message) will contribute to the enormous price. MC may (or may not) be a legitimate company, but its marketing activities certainly are not.

  2. Matt McGee says:

    RAAlsop – this is sad to hear. They took it on the shorts with tactics like this late last year, and now they’re doing it again? Can’t say I’m surprised….

  3. Fran says:

    I received a call this morning from merchant circle and they have the same message but they took out the “negative comment” part and just said that someone has left a review about your company . I tried to just look up our company name and it isn’t even in their data base for someone to leave a comment about us. Looks like they found another way to get a few looks at their site…

  4. Janette says:

    I keep getting messages from merchant services that I have nothing to do with that a customer is wanting to confirm we are valid??????????? Well we are but I am not going to this site and give them information on something I know nothing about.

  5. Janette says:

    Sorry I meant merchant circle not services

  6. Anna Garay says:

    This is very true and sad. Small business owener are being scammed. Due to the high cost of marketing. Its bad enought that the government is riding on our backs, to have marketing also scamming us is a damm shame.

  7. Tom C says:

    I also have gotten a call from Merchant Circle about verification of my business to some customer who saw me on google. Well I am not listed there as far as I know. So this smells fishy to me. Must be a marketing scam. I bet as soon as I enter my number on there site sure I will get hounded with other calls or something to that affect. In fact I am not even sure if they are calling about my business. I got the call on my cell phone and I have gotten many calls for another business over the last year and a half of having this phone number. Probably for them not me, anyway. Though I do have a business as well.

  8. Dino Kokotas says:

    I also received an automated call stating that someone found our business via a google search and was wondering if we are a valid company. Pulled up the main site “”. Scroll down and look at the partner sites. Many of these will flood you with spam and scam. Did not enter the site nor will I. They are out to make a buck based on clicks.


    Same thing here. The automated call said someone called and wondered if we were a vailid company since they pulled us up on Google. Bogus attempt at marketing. Merchantcircle is an obvious scam. Thanks for the previous posts!

  10. Tom R says:

    Got the same “are you a valid customer” voice message today. Curious as I just ran my first credit card authorization through a new merchant account yesterday! I thought this might actually be a real inquiry from my customer. Thanks for the posts as I will not be visiting Merchant Circle!

  11. Patrick says:

    I’m glad I found these comments! I also had the same automated call today. Seemed like a really odd thing. I can only hope the posts will have an impact on this sneaky way of doing business.

    Anyone have any ideas on how to fight back in a professional manner?

  12. carmandy says:

    Add us to the list of people who received an unsolicited call from merchantcircle saying that we should check their site for the negative rating. I am offended by their subersive marketing tactics and blatant LYING. Not only did we not have any negative ratings, we actually had no ratings at all. We do not have a website either, (their voicemail refered to a google search on our “company” – we are a small preschool – but apparently having a phone number makes them think that we want direct marketing calls… despite our registering on All this marketing call did, was scare our teachers.

  13. JASON says:


  14. Susan says:

    Add us to the “Merchant Circle” list. We just got the verifying “legitimate business” message too. I found our business listing on their site, but the address they have is our home address, not the business address. They also conveniently included a map to our house. I want our address removed, but there is no phone number, e-mail address or contact information posted anywhere on the site. It looks like the only way to change anything is to register our business and I really DON’T want to do that!
    I’m really ******(another word for “not happy”, 6 letters, starts with a “P” ends with a “D”) over that one. I don’t know where they got their information, but it didn’t come from us, from our web site or from any other legitimate source.
    I decided to do a Google search under “Who IS” (Network Solutions) and I dug up some info about this company. At the top of the “Who Is” page there is a line that says “Visit for more information about” and there is a link to “AboutUs: MERCHANTCIRCLE.COM”. If you click on that link and scroll all the way to the bottom of the page you will find the address, phone number and e-mail address for MerchantCircle. It was late (about 5:30 PST) when I found the info, but I tried to call anyway. It rings–no answer, no voice mail. I think I am going to try again tomorrow during the day. I would be more then happy the post a follow up after/if I talk to a real person.
    As a side note. The one good thing I see about Merchant Circle is that it does give us another internet link and helps with our visibility –sort of.

  15. yvonne says:

    I also received the “are you a valid company” call. They had been calling my cell phone for days, several times a day but finally stopped after I listened to the message. I knew something was fishy. I will definitely warn everyone I know about this .

  16. Pam says:

    Same thing………..voice message left wanting me to confirm my business is valid for someone who saw my website ?!?! Does that even make sense ?! If you saw my website,I guess it’s real !!

  17. Lowell says:

    I have also been getting the “someone saw your business on Google and wanted to know if it was a legitimate business” calls. For quite a while now.

    Why in the (underworld) would anyone go to merchant circle instead of calling our listed phone number to find out if we are a business or not?!? Why would we have a website with maps to our locations?!?

    That definitely would not be MY first course of action.

  18. STACEY says:


  19. Ed H says:

    Yeah, I just got one of these “googled your business wondering if it’s legit” things. Although it came to my PERSONAL cell phone, and as it was purely a recording, with no way to talk to a live person, and didn’t give a phone number to contact, that makes the call a violation of federal law.

    I wonder if Google knows that they are committing trademark infringement on Google?

    And if you actually go to their website, it’s all targeted toward the businesses who are listed, NOT toward customers. Now, if I were a company whose stated mission is to provide profiles on other businesses so consumers know if they are legit or not, (*cough, Angieslist, cough*,) wouldn’t I want to design my website so that it is obvious for CONSUMERS how to look up companies? There is no obvious “search for a local company” box, and if you enter a phone number, you get the business-end “advertising” of MC, not the consumer-end listing.

  20. Rachel says:

    We received a call today and I’m so glad I ran across this blog. I went to their website and thought about signing up, but decided to do more research. Why might you ask? Could it have been due to the fact that trustworthy was written in red on their website and the grammar error in the first sentence? Possibly.

  21. Jenn says:

    I’m so glad I found this blog. Put me down as yet another small business who got one of those “are you a legitimate business” calls. I thought I ought to do a little research before going to their website. I thought that the recorded telemarketers were illegal; apparently not?

  22. THANK YOU for your posts. I received the call, checked out the website, and then it asks you after “verifying” your business information to pay $2.99/month for a “verified badge” which will display on their site. I usually just hang up on voice recorded calls, but figured I’d check this out and see what kind of a hoax it is. The SAD THING is that customers who think this site is “good” are going to thing that legitimate hardworking businesses are “bad” because they haven’t PAID the $2.99 month for the “verified badge”. CAN I SUE THEM FOR DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER for their website inferring that I am a sub-standard service provider simply because I won’t pay $2.99/month?… STUPID!

  23. CJ says:

    Merchant Circle is now using the pitch “A business is trying to verify you are a legitimate business” – new pitch, same scam.

  24. Sara says:

    I have also gotten the “someone saw your business on Google and wanted to know if it was a legitimate business” calls and am not happy about it…. hopefully this “company” will be shut down soon!

  25. jen says:

    Merchant Circle called my very small business (just me)using the pitch “A business is trying to verify you are a legitimate business” Then adding: “visit our website and enter your phone number.” I did not oblige.

  26. Page's Auto Repair & Electric says:

    SAME CALL…I googled Merchant Circle, scrolled a little through the list and found this site…Page’s Auto is also on the do-not-call list

  27. Tim says:

    Same call for my insurance agency last week. Today I am unable to go to Merchant Circle’s website. Maybe the tactics didn’t work.

  28. Dawn Blasco says:

    I’ve had the same automated calls from merchant cirlce asking me to go to their website to respond to clients asking if this is a legitimate business. I cannot access their site.

  29. Teresa says:

    Same call today. Thought I would go and log on to MerchantCircle web site saw this web site and decided no. Thanks. There are so many ways to check if companies are in good standings today. Licenses, local Chambers, D&B and State Corp. websites… Give us a break.

  30. Michele says:

    I too just received the same automated phone message that the others are referring to in their posts. I have emailed our system administrator in case our other branches receive the same call. It’s a mystery to me why a company would pursue a marketing strategy that says: “I’m deceptive, annoying and desperate for business.”

  31. A.M. FINISHING, INC. says:

    Can you please tell me were to go to verify that our company does exist???? I received a call today from your company telling me that we needed to verify.

    Thank you for your time.

    Maria Rafay
    Office Manager

  32. Lowell says:

    Maria, you do NOT need to verify that your business exists. You know that it exists, your customers know that it exists, and the only ones that see the Merchants Circle page are other merchants who have been called:
    1- that someone wants to verify that THEIR business exists


    2- that someone (who probably doesn’t exist) has given a negative review about your company. When you go to check it out, there are no negative reviews.

  33. Matt McGee says:

    Yes, what Lowell said. Maria – read the blog post above, and all the amazing comments other small biz owners/staff are leaving and you’ll be able to see what’s going on and why you got that call.

    Lowell — thx for answering her question so quickly. 🙂

  34. ann says:

    I just got the call 10 minutes ago (05/23/08, 11:30 am, EDT), and Googled them. I found you guys – after reading, I tried getting the site – no problem. I sure as heck did NOT register, after reading your posts. Thanks for saving me from what could have become a major pain in the posterior!

  35. Laura says:

    I got my call about 30 minutes ago as well. I found you guys by doing a search. I am so glad that I did. Scary stuff.

  36. Anne says:

    Got the same call 5 minutes ago. NOT INTERESTED! Don’t need to verify our company – it holds it’s own great reputation without any “help” from this type desperate marketing. I was glad to see others feel the same way.

  37. Tracy says:

    Got the same “legit biz” call on my answering machine for my small photography business. In the past I have recieved the “someone posted a bad review” message and just ignored it. This time, I decided to find out what Merchant Circle is all about and found this site. Thanks much! I WILL NOT going to Merchant Circle’s website – not now, not ever!

  38. 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, after looking to owns the domain for Merchant Circle, this is what I found…Administrative Contact :
    WYBS, Inc.
    c/o Network Solutions
    P.O. Box 447
    Herndon, VA 20172-0447
    Phone: (redacted)
    I Just did more research. Network Solutions is the company that owns Merchant The domain name is based out of Herndon Va. I googled the company, and guess what…REAL PHONE NUMBERS!!! Give them a they are

    (ADMIN NOTE: phone numbers have been removed from this comment because they were incorrect.)

  39. Matt McGee says:

    Dave – Network Solutions doesn’t own Merchant Circle. That’s just part of the private domain registration they have. 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, CitySearch, Ticketmaster, and many others. Hope this helps.

  40. Sam says:

    I am interested in the Lawsuit against Nerchant circle. Can you give mote detailes as to whre it is being filed and by whom ?
    Any info would be appreciated.

  41. Ernesteen says:

    I have received two calls from Merchants circle in less than a week. That is why I am here. I did a search to find them and in checking all entrees found this site. I will not go to the site at all now, because I also knew I had not authorized my company to be listed. I have tried to be careful even before I got internet.

  42. Dave says:

    Here is the phone number for Merchant Circle(650) 352-1335 ext. 515

    Give them a call to let them know how you feel about their illegal telemarketing scheme. When you call you will hear a recorded message. Just punch in 515 and you will get a voice mail to leave a message.

    Would love for everyone to call them, just like they call us.

  43. Dave says:

    also found you can also leave messages for Merchant Cicle on ext. 514

    Maybe if enough people call this company, they will stop calling people on the Do Not Call List

  44. PJ says:

    We’ve gotten two calls from Merchant Circle saying that someone contacted them asking if we were a legitimate business. The call said we should go to their site and add our phone number to our listing. Two issues with that: 1. They used our phone number to call us, so how could they be telling us to add it?, 2. We went to the site and found our listing, which HAD the phone number listed.

    Obviously just spam to get us to go to the site and sign up for something we don’t need or want.

  45. The MC people are doing their spam-best to create biz by using cheap break-in tactics of petty thieves – you know, the ones who break car windows or slash tires then come around offering repair work.
    These geniuses use the phony hook line “that someone contacted us to see if your biz is legit or phony.” Well, MC does not offer its ‘valuable’ services to consumers. So, who made this ‘call’? Maybe some wizard at this phony operation! This entity has no e-mail, office or address much less a phone so now whom do I call to ask if they are real or phony? What would MC have to do to answer that kind of ‘call’?
    This is a racket.

  46. David Jay says:

    I just received the ‘legitimate business’ call this morning and immediately ‘googled’ to find out what the heck is going on. I’m glad I found this site. Being a member of the BBB pretty much legitimizes my company but I thought I’d also mention the MC scam in my advertising and my outgoing phone message. Thanks for the site.


  47. Greg says:

    Just a heads up. I just got a call from Merchant’s Circle saying that a company that “Googled” us want to see if we are still a legitimate business. I am glad I “Googled” Merchant’s Circle and found these postings. Thanks for the information all!

  48. Christy says:

    I have now received several recorded messages from Merchant Circle. The 1st one informed me if I didn’t enter my phone number on their site, they would tell the business inquiring about us that we weren’t “legit”. I’ve tried to find a phone #, called Google, no luck. I did find an address 201 Main St., Suite 100, Los Altos, CA 94022. I intend to write them, if that doesn’t get me off their phone list, I’ll just start calling the companies, misguided by MC, and bug them until I get a phone # and off the list!!!!

  49. Christy says:

    to meyer sniffen….Address for Merchant Circle that I found and Goggle confirmed is:
    201 Main St., Suite 100
    Los Altos, CA 94022

  50. Sandy says:

    My company also got the recorded scam message this morning. Never heard of the company but was smart enough to Google the name instead of going to the website. Really poor tactics. I called (650) 352-1335 ext. 515 and left a message that we are all sharing information on their bogus tactics and not visiting their website. Thanks for providing the phone #!

  51. Robin says:

    Merchant Circle called our business twice this month. I’m thinking about going to the store and grabbing as many magazine subscription cards as I can find, and filling them out with MC’s address. See how they like that.

  52. Sharon a legitimate business owner says:

    I just got the infamous call as well. The 2nd one this week actually. I decided to call it back and got a recording stating, “if I missed the call please hang up and we will call you again soon. If you want to not be called by this service again hit 1, if you want not be called to the number you are calling from hit 1.” I did and it says “please wait while we process your request. That number will be blocked in 1 business day. please note that you may still recieve meassages until the block takes effect.” We shall see 😉 Who know maybe I will now get lots of calls.
    Pinnacle Electric and Sharon Fine Art

  53. Sharon a legitimate business owner says:

    By the way Robin, I like the subscriptions idea. Many times when I get irritating calls from sales people I just put the phone up to my speaker where I am listening to a talk show and they say, what? what? I am sorry I don’t understand… then they figure it out. That or I keep calling them back just to tie up their phones. (if 800 #)

  54. Diane says:

    This is the second call I’ve received telling me that a customer found our company on Google and wanted to confirm we were a real company. I did not go to their site, no will I, thanks to your postings here.

  55. Mikecoast says:

    Another small business that can be added to the list. I (like others) have received calls from MC. I ignored the first call. The second was a bit more aggressive … “why haven’t you contacted MC … a potential customer would like to know if you’re a REAL BUSINESS. I’m real sure that I’m a real business paying real taxes. One quick search and I have found this blog … where I have learned that MC is a marketing scam.

    THANKS to all who have posted for the information!

  56. Judie says:

    Add me to the list. I receive the “customer wants to know if we are a real company” call approximately once a week. Of course, I just hang up but I appreciate finding the above info.


  57. Lowell says:

    I just got the “you still haven’t verified” message. I called back the same number, 866-849-3243, and found out that if you wait long enough, you can enter in a number to block from calling. I had to do this because my business number is a forwarding number. It forwards all calls to me cell.

    You have to wait for extremely long pauses between options.

  58. John Bussiness Owner says:

    I just called The phone # Herdon Va. Asked Isnt that in Loudoun Co. Va.? Asked Is’nt The sherrif there Steve Simpson. Got a long pause made them nervious.

  59. Steve says:

    I just used the phone # Lowell provided (866-849-3243)and I was able to block future calls from Merchant Circle. I too got the pre-recorded message for my One man operation saying that someone wanted to verify that my company was legitimate.

  60. It’s very confusing with everyone using the word “Merchant” in their marketing, for example, Merchant Services which can be any bank or credit card service vendor from Costco to First Bank or any other bank. When I received a call from Merchant Circle I was eager to click and find, since I didn’t have a website yet. I quickly realized that it was networking for local businesses and not consumer oriented. What a disappointment!Networking isn’t bad,just wierd feeling that brought me to google & find scam.Thanks to all who published comments.

  61. CHRIS says:

    Just got me phone call regarding “you still have not registered with us…”. Glad I found this site !!!

  62. Sharon says:

    Same here. Just got another call from them, I think its the third or fourth. Usually they are that I’ve gotten a postive comment, this one was “you still have not registered with us…”. Glad I found this site, thanks to all that posted!

  63. Got a call today someone to check out about my business being legilimate what is this about have not check this out just yet but will look there was here for some out of place reason??

  64. Dawn says:

    We also received our second phone call. The first one was that a customer had found us on google, then the next call because we hadn’t confirmed the information – interestingly enough the business that they called doesn’t have a website (yet)helloooo?????

  65. Mike says:

    True scam artists. No website, but they wanted me to register my business. We manage a number of websites, but they are targeted to specific clientel and we do not want them registered. We have enough trouble with scam artists calling our clients and misreperesenting themselves by omission as the official representive for our services.

  66. Cilla says:

    Just got our call ten minutes ago…get this, we’re a church. A CHURCH. lol. They called with the google & verification that everyone else is posting. I google them & came upon this. Thank goodness. No way are we getting involved.
    Blessings to all!

  67. jon says:

    I got the same voice-recorded message (this is the second message) saying that I have not responded. I’m glad I read this blog first. My suspicions must be accurate.

  68. ABCO Glass says:

    Being suspicious by nature when I received this merchant circle call, I went to their site to see, smelled something fishy and decided to look a little further. Since we only have an email address someone needing to verify if we are valid didn’t make sense. Just call me on the phone, because if you somehow found us it had to be through or or similiar (only way I know how to find us on the web and it lists our phone number) and if I answer ABCO Glass then I guess I’m a valid company, DUH… so I googled if anyone had heard about them and I guess you all had. I will be using the phone numbers given above to give back a little of the sunshine they are spreading to all just because I like to share! (although I do like the magazine idea alot too!)

  69. lola says:

    Above is the link for the BBB conplaints! YOU ARE ALL NOT ALONE!!!

    Here is a different name and phone number that has a real persons voice on the answering machine!

    CONTACT: Kevin Leu MerchantCircle +1-858-XXX-XXXX

    I would also call the Los
    Altos Chamber of commerce at
    (650) 948-1455
    Attorney General and/or Public Utility Commission

    Check out this link!

  70. lola says:



  71. lola says:

    Above is the link for the BBB conplaints! YOU ARE ALL NOT ALONE!!!

    Here is a different name and phone number that has a real persons voice on the answering machine!

    CONTACT: Kevin Leu MerchantCircle +1-858-XXX-XXXX

    I would also call the Los
    Altos Chamber of commerce at
    (650) 948-1455
    Attorney General and/or Public Utility Commission

    Check out this link!
    I hate it when people think they are above this

  72. Theresa says:

    I am thinking it is not MC but someone who may be trying to put them out of business or another person who has too much time on their hands.
    I want to add that Merchant Circle phone call has happened to our business, A Theme Learning Center Box, LLC or I do have a free account with MC. I have found the free account to be of some help with networking and business. I did think of not keeping it after the scam. I am still a MC member.
    I came upon this site while I was trying to get on MC account from another computer not our own so it was not book marked
    I am going to call. Thank you for a phone number!

  73. I found this site when googling merchant circle. I’m participating with Merchant Circle at the free level and have only had a positive experience with them. No calls, no annoying followups for upgrades and my website is getting more hits. After finding this article by accident and reading through the negative responses here, I felt somewhat obliged to say it’s working for me. It was easy to set up and takes little time to maintain.

  74. Lisa says:

    I too feel obligated to report that I participate on Merchant Circle in the free membership and have not had any phone calls. I find the site to be helpful in networking with local merchants. They offer you the chance to make local connections and to post service coupons to clients that you can design yourself.
    I have never been pressured to purchase anything. They do ask you to invite other merchants you know (that may be where the calls are coming in?) I have been verified by a fellow merchant and paid not one red cent for it.
    I’ll let you know if things change!

  75. Lowell says:

    I feel obligated to comment here. If someone is referring someone to Merchant Circle, they should tell them.

    That being said, that does NOT seem to be the case, at least as Merchant Circle represents themselves.

    Not exactly word for word, but very close (as far as I can recall):

    “A customer found your business while searching Google and wanted to verify that you are a legitimate business.”

    How in this day and age does that even sound likely? If I’m searching Google for snoballs, I and not going to say, “That looks neat! But I doubt that website is real. I’m going to verify it using Merchant Circle!” I never HEARD of Merchant Circle until their annoying phone calls.

    If I look up ‘verify business’ on Google, Merchant Circle isn’t even on the first page. Nor the second, third, nor 4th.

    They did not call me and say “Businesses in your area would like to network with you”. No, their phone call sounds like a complete and utter LIE. That is why most people on here are posting negative comments.

  76. Lowell says:

    I should also add: I had 6 (six) of these phone calls in my voicemail within 2 weeks before I came to this site. Lucky are those people who never got those calls.

  77. Matt McGee says:

    The calls aren’t coming from other merchants. They’re automated and coming from Merchant Circle. The company has confirmed this in the past, and even promised to change their marketing tactics. Then they went back to doing the calls.

    I’m curious, Lisa — as a happy MC merchant, how/why did you find this discussion? Did someone ask you to leave a comment?

  78. Gary says:

    I got the call on my message service a couple of days. It stated that a customer had found my website and questioned whether the company was real. I googled “merchant circle complaints” and found this site.

  79. Theresa says:

    I received one call. It was months ago maybe a year. I again am not sure it is them. It might have been at one time as it has been said they did do that.
    People looking for my website also get MC. I do know people go there because you get a report. The reports are correct as when I put an ad in a journal directed at my customer base the people visiting MC was way up as was my website.
    I may be naive but I am sticking with MC.

  80. Tom says:

    I am worried now. MC came up around my office last yr, and since we moved to this location
    I thought it wise to sign the free offer.
    Today, caller id Palo Alto Ca
    “someone wanted to verify if your legit.
    Somehow I found your site. Glad I did, I am anxious to sign on a class action suit.
    Dr TOM-Mesa AZ

  81. Nick says:

    I too received a recorded phone call from Merchants Circle stating some wanted to verify if my website and my business was legitimate. The phone number was 650-352-1335.

    Nick, Calif.

  82. Kim says:

    How do customers supposedly find a business on merchant circle? When you go to the website, it is really geared toward having businesses sign up- I’m certainly not going to pay $35 to have my business verified!

  83. Kelly says:

    In 2006 I received an automated service call telling me “someone” found me on yahoo & gave a bad report to merchant circle & if I wanted to see it then check out the MC site. There was no bad report on my company.

    They also gave a wrong address & zip for my comp. This alone could cause a lot of problems for me. The addr they gave was an APARTMENT in the “lower” hillsboro community!!!

    They also “OFFER” this for anyone to take under “CLAIM THIS LISTING”!!
    (Anyone – even if they swear they are the owner) can take possession of my “company” name.

    I wrote to them at saying I never asked for a listing with them – for free or otherwise & to remove my name. They don’t list a phone number for themselves which makes them even less reputable.Also I said that I WILL not be strong armed by anyone into HAVING to sign up because of the way you place it on the website, for anyone to take, “IF I DON”T”.

    Then to try to get not just a free listing but also have me pay more for a better listing & then get my credit card info – all the while making me a better target for you & everyone else.

    I reported them to the BBB & to the local police. I also did a mail forward for my company name from the bad address to my good address just in case, someone was getting mail there. So far so good.

    As a test I “signed up” for & took possession of another local cleaning company & phone #. (Yes, I personally know them) & the BBB for the area of merchant circle. This did work & I could have stolen the companies. I called both companies & gave them the password, etc… & gave the acct. back to them. This made me force removal of my name from the site. They did as I asked & removed me from the site.

    *** Fast forward to 2008 – I am listed back with their system without permission!! Rather than fight them every 2 yrs to remove my name I have taken possession of my own name & number. This, I hope, keeps me safe from others taking it! This is what frustrates me – the absolute strong arming me to do this or else have someone “take over” my name!!! So maybe until they are shut down I will get some more business. Trying to think positively! / Oregon

  84. Jeannie says:

    Add me to the list we are a new business and we received a call from them asking us to validate our business, isn’t that something they should worry about before they list you on their sight without your permission? Anyway now I am in MC H*** and don’t know how to get out…HELP!

  85. Lothar says:

    Maybe this is a new one: I got 3 calls from Merchant Circle (818-804-3142) on my cell phone in just one week, offering a “free” credit card machine, after numerous “s.o found you on Google” crap messages. They left a number: 1-800-644-0296 which appeared to have an option to have you removed from their do not call violations. Will it work?????
    I urge you all to report their calls to the FCC:
    The more the merrier!

  86. I’ve had a few ‘phone calls from them using a Peninsula Bay Area 650 # and another #

    I tend to screen my calls so don’t answer.

    I can see this being a pita though


  87. Rubens V. says:

    Put me on the list for a Class Action Law Suit. These guys are a JOKE. I too, received a call about someone saying good things about my business. Unfortunately, I gave up my credit card number to market my business….NEVER AGAIN! BEWARE OF MECHANT CIRCLE.COM.

  88. I got a call from Merchant Circle and was dumb enough to think they were legitimate. I put in my business phone and saw that they had a listing for me but noticed they had it wrong. I emailed them with the corrections and tried to sign up for the “free” listing but ended up at a point where they were going to charge me $35 or so A MONTH! I couldn’t back out of the screen so I just closed it. Now I find at least two businesses with whom I communicate, one my husband’s and another Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, received messages supposedly from me (like Face Book) asking them to join MC. I did not knowingly send them! I tried to contact MC and so far have not found a phone.

    I decided to send a very negative review, as I thought they were asking for a review of MC. Instead, I was reviewing my own business! So I reviewed it again with a retraction and explanation!

  89. Paula Kyler says:

    They just called me also, 650-352-1335 phone number, i always let the machine pick up so i can screen who to talk to, they have called many times, is their a law suit?

  90. Cassandra says:

    We got a call this morning too. Customer wants to confirm we are valid. Not falling for it.

  91. Jay P says:

    I use Merchant Circle and am very pleased. I have had alot of good things happen client wise. I have had the “verify your a business” notification. In my opinion, and from what I have seen, MC will verify your busienss for $2.??/mo billed on an annual basis. Now I only use the FREE part of MC, but realistically in this world if you want anything, how Free is FREE? Just like an infomercial when you call they try to sell you more and more stuff in conjunction with what you saw. Upselling in America, who’d have thunk it.

  92. Sondra says:

    I just got a call. Same story. I have a legitimate business, but my website is not finished yet.

  93. Steven says:

    They keep on calling my business saying that someone left a rating. However, I see none, and their listing is for a former company name in a former location. Of course, they don’t have any way of unsubscribing or blocking the listing. I would love to see them go to hell for their business practices.

  94. Skip says:

    This website has had my address wrong for a couple years. They are impossible to get a hold of. They have me in the wrong city as well as wrong address. I don’t remember asking to be on their site, misdirecting customers to a dirt road where I’m not… any body have a # for me to call please e-mail me @ Thanks

  95. Sherry says:

    I like Merchants Circle. My business is i claremore, OK, (small town soutside of Tulsa), and I have been successful at reaching clients on the internet through them. I am on other networds as well but theirs has landed me the highest ranking with Google. I have so many little marketing techniques all day that theirs seem the least obtrusive.

  96. Lowell says:

    Sherry, tell us what your site is so we can check it out. I’d like to see its Google rating.

  97. Brian says:

    I just received the same cold call. I checked out the site, but then decided to read your reveiw. Needless to say I did not sign up for their service. Thank for saving me from myself and my desires to promote my already exellent business!

  98. Theresa says: I went to look at it.
    On MC dashboard you are offered verification for price. There are offers for many other items some for free some for pay. Take it don’t take it it’s an option.

  99. Tyler says:

    I have received several calls telling me someone has given my business a positive review.
    Today MC called to tell me they have new pictures of my business on their site. I have
    never been on their site before. I checked it out. No pictures of my business and no
    reviews. They are scammers who want traffic on their site.

  100. Anna says:

    I just got a new message. They are now saying that they have a video of my company on their website. I’ve ignored all the other messages until now. I have never subscribed and rather than going to their website I searched for this one. I wanted to know what people are really saying about them before I potentially fell into their trap.
    Thanks for all the info.
    Anna, Wichita KS

  101. Sara says:

    We also just received message that Merchant Circle has a video of our business on its site. What craziness. I did not bother to go to their site but instead went straight to look up Merchant Circle online and found these postings which have been really helpful. Thanks!

  102. Randy Crudgington says:

    I just recieved a message that there is a video concerning our church at They wanted us to go to the web address and input our phone # to see the video. Like Sara above I did not go to the site but did a web search & found this page. Thanks all.
    Lack of integrity in one’s business practices leads me to believe that one has a lack of integrity overall. I am currently warning all my area fellow pastors about this questionable business.


  103. Chris says:

    Also received the “vieeo” gimmick call today. Of course checked it out on line and sure enough an other scam. Thanks for the information all.

  104. Amy says:

    Just got the recorded message that there is a video of our office on their site and to go there and input our phone number to watch it. Went here first since I get a million of these pre-recorded calls and glad I found this info! Thanks everybody! – Amy

  105. Tammy says:

    Yesterday, our company received a recorded message instructing us to log onto to view a video of our company. Due to our suspicion, we google searched it and found this website. Of course, it confirmed our suspicion which is very helpful.

    Much Thanks.

  106. Mark says:

    My home office got the “see a video of your business” spam message last evening around 6:45 p.m. Having a home office, the whole idea of a business video of my residence made me both concerned and mad at MC.

    Isn’t there anything we can do about this form of spam?

  107. Frank says:

    We receive approxamtely 4 calls a day from merchants. Our bussiness # is a 800 #, and is answered by an answering service 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I have to pay the service for every call. How do i get them to stop calling us? And how do i know this posting is not part of merchants?


  108. Liz says:

    I work at a small town radio station and we’ve received a few calls from Merchant Circle. Usually as soon as I realize its an automated call I hang up. But I just got one saying someone had posted a video about our business and I could view it by going to the MC site. Of course, once I got there I was asked to register. I decided to Google MC to see if they were legit, found this and some other informative info. Obvioulsy I did not go back to the site to register. Thank you for all the helpful posts.

  109. Joe says:

    Just got a third call saying there is a review about my company of one person that is listed as a private number in the phonebook and I’ve never advertised. Glad I looke d it up here, I suspected a scam.

    I’m also on the do not call list, but they didn’t officially try to sell me soomething, so it’s difficult to complain. Perhaps the better businiess bureau, and maybe the FTC?

    Is there a way to stop this?

  110. Lori says:

    I am a small business owner that is in the odd position of not having my business number listed anywhere, but have had to deal with yellow pages and the like printing my home number as a hotel. I got an automated call today that I had a video posted about my business on the web so I had a great deal of cause for alarm on both sides of the coin. I did my homework first instead of going to their site. Merchant Circle. Glad I did and thank you for the posts and article. They should be ashmaed of themselves but aparently don’t have the sense to.

  111. Nancy says:

    We have received several of these recorded messages at our small business also, but have never taken the bait. Today I received a different message that said our business can be seen on a video at Merchants Circle. Caller I.D. showed the number this time to be 480-543-1367 out of Arizona. Thank you for the information on this site that I discovered today. I will definitely not click on to their site.

  112. Dorothy says:

    I got a call this morning from merchant circle saying that they had a video of my business at That is very strange because my business location is behind my house and my house is hard to find. I have to give very detailed directions to customers. I did not go to the site. I googled the name and went to your site. I’m glad I did.

  113. Andy says:

    i just got a call abotut 2:20pm from merchant circle saying that they had a video of my business at i search that and im glad i found this site. how do we stop this ??

  114. swillabrew says:

    We just received the “we’ve got video” automated call this afternoon. Although it suggested I go to the MC site & enter our businiess phone number, I instead just went to their site & looked at all their listings for our city. Not too surprisingly, we aren’t listed. Nice try, MC, but no cigar.

  115. gostrath says:

    I have some information. Merchantcircle is hiding their information, hosting contacts and the like. I did a little research and found that they are hosting with the following firm:

    Silicon Valley Colocation, Inc.
    PO Box 390804
    Mountain View, CA 94039
    Phone 4087470724
    Phone 408400-0550

    These people knew nothing of the trouble and asked that people contact them with complaints. Lets make a difference and shut down a bad company.

  116. jan komatsu says:

    at the end of 2007, or at the beginning of this year, we think we received the “negative” comment from MC (they said it so fast we missed the name)…however, our company takes pride in doing the best we can do for our customers, and the “negative” comment thing really caused a bit of stir.

    today we just got a call about “look up a picture of our store on MC
    site and enter our store name”…we *69 the call and received a local listing. Thanks for the information on MC…i googled and found this site very informative.

  117. Duane Johnson says:

    I just got one of these messages this morning. They wanted to verify that I am a real business. I think it’s crap. I have three 5-star reviews on MC and am not worried. I’m ignoring the message.

  118. "Big Lar" says:

    I just got a recorded call today from Merchant Circle saying that I have a potential customer wanting to verify that my business is legitimate. They instructed me to visit their MC website….. and then ‘click’. I’d like to knock the snot of these idiots.

  119. Colleen says:

    We get these calls occasionally too. The number of the latest was an Arizona number…480-543-1367

  120. Theresa says:

    I wonder if they are coming from different places Is it truly MC doing the calling ? OR someone who wants them out of business ? just wondering ?

  121. Lori says:

    I have a different complaint with merchant circle, although I truly hate this website. We moved over two years ago and were assigned a phone number that was previously a business (apparently). Despite our best efforts (including multiple emails to every address I can find associated with this site) and an answering message saying we are a private residence, I can NOT get MC to remove the associated listing. It’s ironic they bombard my phone (which is on the do not call list), yet they do not have a number for me to contact them. I hate this website that doesn’t even bother to update it’s listings or take legitimate complaints seriously. I think they should be shut down.

  122. Frank Crane says:

    “Merchant Circle” are scammers. They make false claims. They’ve listed my business incorrectly. They left a message that there was a video of my business on their site. Not! After many attempts to correct these people I find I cannot. They will not list the name of my business correctly. They don’t offer an e-mail, an address or phone number. It seems the only way is to register with them. Why would I want to register with a business that can’t even be bothered to list me correctly? They are damaging my business, not helping it.

  123. Suzanne Brown says:

    And . . . now MC is gone?

  124. Joe M says:

    As some of you were, I was lured to the site by an automated call saying there was a review of my business on the website. There was no review, but I took them up on the free part of their advertising. I looked around enough to realize very few of the businesses they listed were actual members. About a month after, I received another automated call saying someone visiting the site wanted to “verify” that I was a business. After going back to the site, it became apparent that being a “verified” business meant that I had to start paying them something. I then realized that the only activity the advertising of my business had there was on the days I had edited the listing. I have a tutoring business. Why wouldn’t somebody just call to verify I was for real? Based on some of the other comments here, I guess I better not move or change my phone number either.

  125. Theresa says:

    I am on MC. I do not pay. I am connected with real businesses. People do go there as I see them there every time I have an advertisement in a journal that speaks to the group I need to see it. Did I get a call once? Yes. Did it get me a little bit mad? Yes. Mostly it has been fine

  126. Matt McGee says:

    Hi Theresa — this is your 5th comment in this discussion, and I think you’ve made it clear that you appreciate the MC service. I’ve had other small biz owners say the same thing, too.

    But this thread isn’t about their service; it’s about their marketing tactics. That’s what is making people angry.

  127. Theresa says:

    I am sorry it seems to disturb you that I keep posting things. I am not so sure that it is them calling. There are people complaining about more than phone calls on here such as their business is not listed right and more.
    Thanks for clearing up what already know.
    I would actually forget about all of this. I have to take my name off, I want to hear the next post. I am not sure how to do that.I am done.

  128. cheryl says:

    I hate Merchant Circle. I do not own a business, never have. Somehow they have my residential phone number listed for a company that does not even exist. I have no way of contacting them and this has been MY PHONE NUMBER FOR OVER 6 YEARS! I get phone calls from them regarding the above marketing ploys, I am on the DO NOT CALL list and have put in lots of complaints to DO NOT CALL. HOW DO I STOP THIS? I had my number first and really do not want to change it. These calls started coming about a year ago – I now screen all my calls. BE VERY CAREFUL WITH THIS SERVICE!

  129. Patrick says:

    You may have more recourse than those of us with business lines. You have a tool available for filing a complaint if your phone is on the national do not call registry.

    Go here: to file a complaint.

    Hopefully that will give you some relief.


  130. Lori says:

    How does your business get posted on Merchant Circle? My mom owns a business that is posted on there and she has no idea how it got on there. Well whoever posted the information put up initials next to her name that are for use by board certified professionls only and now the board is threatening to fine her if the info isn’t removed and I don’t know how to help her. Any info is appreciated.

  131. Lowell says:


    First, show this site to the ‘board’ in question. Have them read EACH entry. They may reconsider issuing a fine.

    Second, read this post: and see if that contact information will help.

    Third, from another post:

    “CONTACT: Kevin Leu MerchantCircle +1-858-XXX-XXXX

    I would also call the Los
    Altos Chamber of commerce at
    (650) 948-1455
    Attorney General and/or Public Utility Commission”

    Good Luck!

  132. Kelly says:

    Someone has posted a rude and vulgar comment about my businesss on Merchant Circle.

    The only way to remove it, is if we “join” Merchant Circle. No one answers the phone there, no way to contact anyone.

    There must be a way to make them remove my information and the commnents.

    I will show up at their office if I have to…..something very wrong about it all….

  133. Skip says:

    not sure i’m to happy w/ this site either. can never access the site to obtain any info. i am always getting phone messages (after hours of course) that someone has accessed my site and posted something. I would like my buisness taken off their site. i’m plenty busy enough w/out their harassing crap week in and week out. not sure how we even got on their site to begin with.

  134. Marge says:

    We are sueing Merchant Circle, so any info out there would be greatly appreciated. Maybe we could turn this into a class action lawsuit. They ruined out business and our lives by allowing a posting from someone which was totally untrue. They ruined a business that it has taken us 20 years to build with blood, sweat and tears. Please help.

  135. Marcus says:

    Marge – You take the cake for most distressing MC complaint post of the new year. Especially considering that a bad review on MC takes 30-sec. to remove. IF your story is true you were lucky that the bad review went on MC and not Yelp or Yahoo or, etc. where you might never get it off.

    Wait a minute “ruined our business after 20-years from one phoney bad review…?

    Marge, drop me line and I will make every effort to help you. m

  136. marge says:

    Dear Marcus,
    Thanks for your comment, please contact me at I can assure you it is true. Hoiw do you remove a review in 30 seconds when you don’t know it’s there, and how do you remove it without joining Merchant Circle? I would be interested to hear from you. Thanks Marge

  137. Lowell says:

    I, also, would like to hear Marcus’ answer about how to remove comments when you are not a merchant circle member.

  138. Marcus says:

    Whether its a claimed or unclaimed listing, its relatively easy to remove a reviewer’s negative content from MC.

    Certainly it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if an unclaimed MC listing for my business has a negative reviewer post on it, my business would be well served to claim that listing for free and then delete the content and then either keep or remove the the listing.

    Of course there is usually no good reason to remove the MC listing if the business is still operating because its one of the best business listings your business can have. M

    Ps – I written Marge and offered to get her listing resolved.

  139. Mary says:

    Marcus I would also like your help with removing my business from Merchant Circle. This business was listed without permission. I completed the request for removal on and received confirmation that the listing would be removed in 24-48 hours but it was not removed.

  140. Marcus says:

    Mary, if you would forward your confirmation, along with a link to the offending listing, and a note with your request and a little background, ADMAX will attempt to expedite same.
    Marge, we never got your link to the offending site.

    Email address is at out MC site!

  141. Mary says:

    Marcus: Please provide your direct e-mail so that I can forward same. Thank you. Mary

  142. Mary says:

    Marcus: Just for the record, it is not easy to find any contact info on Merchantcircle website,so I am unable to find your e-mail address. Our office requested the removal via your on-line request form and received a removal confirmation. Once I saw that the listing had not been removed I did a little more research and faxed a written request on business letterhead to Merchant Circle at (650)917-9972 and mailed same to Merchantcircle 201 Main St., Suite 100, Los Altos, CA 94022 with a copy to Internap Network Service, your internet provider at

  143. Marcus says:

    My name on the header post has an embedded link – click to the ADMAX on MC site and you will find our email address right below “MERCHANT INFORMATION” — BE SURE to include a link to the offending site and the removal confirmation, if available, and I will make every effort to resolve the issue. m

  144. Lowell says:

    Marcus, not to nitpick here, but I would expect a contact email to say ‘Contact’ not invite. I looked earlier and did NOT think of using the invite email because I do NOT want to be invited.

  145. Mary says:

    Marcus: Per your request, I e-mailed the links, the removal confirmation, as well as a copy of our letter requesting removal, to you this morning at the e-mail address listed under “INVITE” on Ad/Max Merchant Media. Please let me know when you receive it. Thanks. Mary

  146. I’m confused about the email I recieved. I did not personally did not request info on a small business. I was just wandering if you send this info to everyone or if someone used my info to start a small bussiness. Please email me back….thanks

  147. Marcus says:

    Tiffany, I do not understand your question and I don’t have your email address. m

  148. Stuart says:

    I have had a MC account for a few years now. I never respond to the “your account is only 78% complete” notice, and have not invested one penny with them. I have never been able to contact them with the “live chat” because nobody is ever there.
    However, this site has actually worked for me as I have people contact occasionally by my listed email address. Some have gone on my tours, so, even if it is mostly a scam, it has payed off for me.

  149. chris morel says:

    I just read all these coments and ive been wondering why i havent had any custermers
    come to my site spending alot of money
    can someone tell me if signing up was a bad idea I own a landscape company that is on the
    verge of going belly up

  150. I too found a review about my company looking at my google page under maid services in alpharetta ga. When you go under websites it took me to linens in norcross ga (???) and near the end my business shows up with a horrible complaint that is so totally invalid!!! I posted a review to explain this is in total error and I may be contacted at any time. I called Merchant Circle and will redial to get the email address as a phone call directly will cost me $34.95! What is going on!!!

  151. Stuart says:

    Carolyn, you should be able to log on to your account and edit (delete) any erroneous comments. There is more information on the forums. Don’t waste your $ calling.

  152. JC says:

    Other people can take your name over if you don’t claim it. What kind of system is that?How do you get it back.

  153. Merchant Circle sent a very impersonal “note” signed Jennifer that they were taking the review off and apologized. Still very strange but thankfully it is gone….very very wrong.

  154. John Davies says:

    I have been a member since December and the site has increased my exposure quite a bit on search engines. I have actually received a few extra calls because of being found on that site. Sure, there are some downfalls with it in some aspects, but for the most part, it has been a great help to me. But I don’t rely on it solely, and I hope that no one else does either. It’s just another SEO bump in my opinion.

  155. Stephen Craig says:

    This number is a voice message only, asking if you’d like to be removed from their calling list. Merchant Circle is an annoying site that someone, with some sort of power, needs to have shut down. I’d love to see them go!

  156. As a fast-growing startup with just 17 employees, we are working hard to support our 720,000 members while keeping most of our services free. For best customer support, we ask merchants to contact us via this page: On this page we offer free live chat, free self-service options and a “frequently asked questions” section. These free resources typically address 95% of all support questions, including all of the concerns raised in these comments. For merchants who use our free services but want priority customer support, we offer paid support options (they can also be found on the link provided) including monthly paid support and a priority support line (1-900-622-2555). Customers who purchase services from MerchantCircle receive priority support as part of their paid service.

    Sorry for any hassles and thanks for your patience and understanding.

  157. Lowell says:

    WOW, Jennifer that is SOOO Great!!!!!!

    And SOOOO New!!!! When did that go up? Yesterday?

    Seriously, the last time I clicked ‘Contact Us’ there was nothing like that. And the page has nothing about the annoying phone calls and I guarantee you that makes up MORE than the other 5% of complaints about MC.

  158. Pat says:

    I have a merchant circle website and didn’t have a problem until someone wrote a really terrible “review”. This person wrote his name but I had never met nor heard of this person. It was completely false and would have been an easy libel case…if the information was true or even by a real person. Ouch. Thank God I could delete it. But why it ever posted is what got me. Anyone can jump on any of the merchant circle websites and post anything they want – immediately. Just hit “post” and it’s on the website. No content policy and no restriction or sensoring. Terrible. Totally defeats the purpose. I’ll gladly take a bad review – from a real person who used my service. But malicious bad “reviews” from a stranger just because someone is bored and mean? And you’re right…there is never anyone on-line during their “live chat” time. And one telephone call is $34.95!!! You can quickly turn the review section of your site off…but that means ALL reviews are turned off. There goes 2 years of good reviews because of one weirdo who was bored.

  159. Marcus says:

    Pat – what you must realize is that there are dozens (hundreds?) of local directories that have been pre-populated with business listings from the YP databases and ALL take consumer reviews. MC offers both the most functionality and SEO -and- allows you to delete a bad review. So whereas MC can be a tremendous marketing asset, its all the others, including biggies like and that can pose a problem… NOT MC.

  160. Brian says:

    Jennifer, I will not pay a $35 fee to contact your support team and fix a listing of “place closed”. My business has been going strong for TWELVE years and some twit at your company decided to list my business as closed because I do not participate in your monthly fees. What gives you the right to create false information about a business in an effort to bully them into participating? I am confident I can locate enough other businesses that are affected by your slanderous and careless activities to pursue a very large class action lawsuit against your company. You may not have a legal obligation to advertise for my business, however; you do have a legal obligation to not falsely report a business as closed. Please rectify this IMMEDIATELY or forward the contact information for your legal department so I can forward to my attorney.

  161. TBT says:

    Gets results for me. While sometimes I get tough reviews, I get more traffic all the time.

  162. Debbie says:

    I have had a MC account for the last 6 months or so and have gotten business because of it. Every few weeks I get an email saying a customer has requested we get a verification badge. Don’t know how true that is, but I decided to try and get the free badge, rather than paying $36 for it. Went through all the different screen prompts and the last one was a credit card verification. Why do they need a credit card for a free verification. The worst part is, the web page to enter your credit card information was not secured. No thanks, I don’t need a verification badge.

  163. Benny says:

    Debbie, you should post that experience at the MC forums, here –

  164. Robin M. says:

    I’m a manager at a tax preparation office in California. The company I work for is a franchise with about 3000 offices throughout the country. On July 2, 2009 towards the end of the day I recieved a call from an individual asking to speak to the manager. He then told me there were pornographic images posted under the listing for our office on merchantcircle. I never heard of this site and the guy had to help navigate to get to the images. Sure enough there were 6 images posted of ME having oral sex with a recent ex. These images were taken and stored on his phone. Its no doubt as to who posted the images but the individual who called told me, his name was Wayne. If this makes any difference at this point. The day was late Thursday evening, before the 4th of July 3 day weekend. There was no way of contacting the website , as per their posting until that following Monday. There was a number to call but there would be an automatic charge of 34.95 to the phone bill. Or I could JOIN Merchantcircle for a monthly fee. This site and the ex are two peas in a pod. Both sleazy and underhanded. The owner filed a police report and come Monday still no availability through live chat to get the images removed. Under the office listing I posted a public apology, identified who posted the images and explained why they couldn’t be removed untill after the weekend. I ended up contacting the ex’s employer and faxed them a copy of the images posted in Merchantcircle. Confronted the ex with a lawsuit Monday evening by 9 that night the listing was returned to its original posting. Whatever that was. THEN…. I check the merchantcircle listing a week later just to make sure there were no more games being played and now our office isn’t listed at all. What is listed instead is the business name ( with a few words off ) and an address on a different street. We have two offices in town during the tax season. Our main office stays open year round. The address listed now is for the temporary office, but the address is wrong, the phone number is wrong, and the franchise name is wrong. Then they have posted a picture of this funky looking liquor store with a big hand painted A frame sign on the sidewalk. This is were merchantcircle says we do business. And their caption on the side of the picture says to join merchantcircle to update the picture. Screw these low budget bottom dwellers. So Marge I would like to join your classaction lawsuit for sure. How do these people get away with so much for so long? Maybe Ill write a letter to Jerry Brown. Thanks for listening and thanks for all the good information your article has provided. Robin

  165. Marcus says:

    Hi Robin – Sorry for the ‘inconvenience’ – MC is notorious for poor customer service on free acounts. Obviously your ex illicitly claimed your office’s unclaimed listing – the mere act of doing so constitutes a $1000 fine, which he agreed to when he claimed it (the IP address should confirm).

  166. Lowell says:

    WOW!! Marcus YOU really take the cake. Calling her problem an ‘inconvenience’, and then trying to get business out of her?

    It’s people like you that keep people like me away from MC.

  167. Robin M. says:

    Hear, Hear.

  168. jeff says:

    it is my understanding that after they confirm a address they can be sold to telamarkiting companeys for as much as 4 dollars each.entering your info gives them your permission to do so.if anyone knows more about this please post.this is what i was told by someone who used to be in telamarketing

  169. Marcus says:

    Jeff – You are entirely out of context. First of all MC starts with the same data that has been aggregated from all YP sources via info sources like InfoUsa and Axciom. The only intelligent thing to do is to take control of your info so that it is correct.

    Secondly, ANY telemarketer can purchase the same data direct from the sources (InfoUsa, etc.)

    Third, we are not talking about residential info, only business data.

  170. Bob Nelson says:

    We are in the process of filing a law suit against Merchant Circle for allowing defamatory posting which are nothing less than internet terrorism. They have now set up a “900” number that you can call customer service and then pay for the call per minute and $40.00 to remove postings. If someone is determined to damage your business they just go back immediately and repost the malicious information again. You now have to repeat the process to remove the information once again. It is extortion and can be incredible damaging to any company if someone posing as a representative from your company sets your company up on the website without any authorization and then begins posting false and harmful postings. We have a high turnover in our company and any disgruntled employee can go directly to a site like this and begin working on undermining you r companies web presence with on accountability and complete anonymity. If there are any other businesses that have had these problems I would consider creating a class action lawsuit because we are filing suit as an individual company.

  171. Marcus says:

    Bob, I find your post quite perplexing – why in the world would you not want to claim your free listing on MC… even if only to remove it? MC members for free delete bad reviews instantly, if they choose.

    Also – you need to know that MC populates the listing data from yellowpage databases and that if you are on MC than you are also on dozens if not hundreds of other directories – NONE of whom allow you to delete bad reviews.

    Further MC has free social media, marketing, and advertising tools, as well as impressive SEO search engine visibility.

    The ONLY reason that you are angry with MC is because of a serious misunderstanding of what it is and is not.

  172. Dear Bob,

    we too have taken a lawsuit against merchant circle for posting terribe things about my husband and his business from a party that we are also now sueing. So far it has cost us over $20,000 just to get it from federal court into the local court, but we are not going to give up on this. This is a matter of principle now and of clearing my husband’s name. This company should be put out of business, they are still advertising our company name telling everyone out there that we “make deals, give coupons, and have a blog on the site” NONE OF THIS IS TRUE. Even though we are sueing them they still have the nerve to post our business on their money grubbing site. THEY HAVE TO BE STOPPED. Maybe if we all get together we can put a stop to this because as they say – there is strength in numbers and from what I have seen there are an awful lot of good decent folks in the same boat as us. Please contact me – all of you, so that we can stop this and see justice prevail.

  173. Marcus says:

    Mrs. Goodridge – very sorry to hear of your difficulty.

    The problem you had is not uncommon throughout the entire industry of consumer-review and networking sites and directories. This underscores the importance of claiming the listing and taking responsibility for it.

    I must say that some of your assertions of MerchantCircle culpability seem utterly outlandish to us, but we are not really qualified to comment.

    Goodridge vs MC suit here –

    We do see that your business is currently listed in several dozens of review-type directories, all propagated from similar yellowpages database as MerchantCircle. But to our knowledge MerchantCircle is the absolute easiest to remove an inappropriate business review from.

    Look, Keith Goodridge Construction is in MANY (70+?) other directories –

    Many or most of these other directories ALSO allow reviews… but none of which provide the functionality, marketing tools, and SEO that MC affords free members.

    Best of luck to you in your litigation!

  174. keith says:

    Marcus who do you work for ? Merchant circle !!!! You seem to defend them all the time. Are you independent? Do they pay you? What would you do if someone set up a web page without your kinowledge and accused you of killing a teenager. How would you feel?

    So let’s be honest and find out who you are and what you do and who you are associated with. Be a man and put it on the blog

  175. Marcus says:

    I am an employee to ADMAX and we are an independent reseller of MC paid products – but our primary businesses are marketing and accounting – only a small fraction of our financial model is tied to MC, and we deal with ALL the important directories, of which MC is but one.

    When you say that I ‘defend’ MC you are partially correct – I defend MC only on certain issues, not all.

    The curious thing about MerchantCircle is that ADMAX informal surveys and discussions with dozens of angry complainant FREE members and non-members alike tell us that 99.9% of all MC complaints are due to business owner confusion and/or lack of product knowledge.

    An overall impressive satisfaction level for both consumer shoppers and listing holders is fact. Especially among ADMAX clients though even there exceptions do exist.

    With all due respect Mrs. Goodridge, your legal complaint, in our informal analysis, epitomizes ADMAX’s 99.9% theory.

  176. Lowell says:


    You make a good argument for a class action suit against ALL marketing directories of this type. NO ONE should have to research to find out if their business is listed somewhere they didn’t authorize. And NO ONE should have to sign up as a member to a service they don’t want, just to remove negative reviews.

  177. Marcus says:

    Lowell – In the case of MC you can remove questionable reviews instantly, because it is a business-centric site. Other sites are mostly consumer-centric and the business listing holders are not afforded such privilege with the reviews.

    As for who these other directories are – CitySearch, Yelp, Insider Pages, GetFave, YellowBot, etc., the main list of them comprise over 100+ and include even Google Maps and Yahoo Local.

    It boils down to the question: Who owns your business listing data? Apparently, we as business owners do not “own” our listing data… but we can take control of it.

    The main point is that businesses MUST take control of their listing data in this post-yellowpages era. And businesses CAN readily do so across 100+ directories, both with and without MerchantCircle’s help. (We have the tools, we have the technology)

    Here is a blog that discusses some additional pitfalls to be mindful of –

    OH, and class-action suit? I believe there is at least one recently – against, for allegedly fraudulent sales practices.

  178. L.Williams says:

    These people are the worst. I have been trying to get a false listing that Merchant Circle put on their website that lists my home address with a business that I have not only never heard of, but has a telephone number listed in a completely different part of the state over 60 miles from where I live. I have emailed Jennifer in customer support and asked 4 times to have this listing removed and she has given me the royal runaround, 1st saying she needed the URL because she couldn’t find it and later passing my emails to Teresa who wrote that I needed to sign up and then remove this account. I have now threatened to file complaints with appropriate agencies if they do not remove it. This site is a fraud and scam!!!

  179. Lowell says:

    Come on, Marcus. Tell him how easy this would be to fix if he just signed up for a free account.

  180. L.Williams says:

    One shouldn’t have to sign up for an account that they don’t want to sign up for….

  181. Lowell says:

    I agree, but if you’ll read Marcus’ other posts, you’ll understand why I said that.

    I wonder why Marcus deleted his earlier post . . .

  182. Matt McGee says:

    Lowell, Marcus didn’t delete his comment. I did. I’ve warned him several times about using this discussion to pitch his company’s services.

  183. davej says:

    My company DID get a bad review on MC and now we can’t get it taken down. It seems like the review may have been posted by one of our competitors. Your thoughts?

  184. Just an update for everyone who hates Merchant Circle. So far we have spent $25,000 sueing Merchant Circle, but we WILL NOT GIVE UP. They may have more money than us, but we will sell everything we own to get justice and to stop them from destroying anyone else’s life by allowing negative postings to be used on their site without ever checking or verifying that the information is true. If you have any info that we could use, please contact us.

  185. Jim Jacobs says:

    I am the manager of a small family owned business. merchantcircle has us listed in two different towns that we are not located in. One of the listings is the address of a competitor… We have received several calls from upset customers calling from the incorrect addresses listed because they can’t find us. I don’t need these additional hassles! Our business is not located in either town…

  186. Matt McGee says:

    I’ve edited out one of the phone numbers that was listed in several comments above. The individual who owns that phone number no longer works for Merchant Circle.

  187. MrSmith says:

    Not that it matters looks like this thread is pretty dated. But thought Id throw this out there for future searchers. Also with the disclaimer that I have no real experience with MC, am definitely not an affiliate or associate of theirs.

    Anyway with that said, on the business profiles on MC, there’s a button that says, “is this merchant verfied”, or something similar. Would be my guess, that anytime someone visits that business’s profile and clicks on that button. It will send that business an automated inquiry … I was browsing the MC site one time and pushed that kind of button and it replied something like “we’ll contact this merchant etc.”

    As for not even having a listing there and still receiving that type of automated message. MC … like many others in their category. No doubt pulls info about businesses from numerous dataproviders.

    So even if you dont have an active listing. Doesnt necessarily mean you dont have a MC profile with the number for them to contact you via automated message service.

  188. Judith Repke says:

    If you see me on Merchant’s Circle with a posting of pictures this is not authorized by me. I cannot contact Merchant’s Circle without paying $34.99. I cannot login to the site and they will not send me a password. So my name and face are being used without my permission. I did not authorize any other merchants to post pictures to a Merchant Circle account with my name. One search gives the web page with just my name and face, but another search response gives my name, face and pictures advertising other merchants who I do not know. I think it gives the appearance that I endorse them. Do a search on repkeart and one response is “Picture Gallery: repkeart Bridgeton, 63044” this is the one that shows pictures that I have not authorized.

  189. Kelly says:

    Try to take over the site – I was called too a few years ago – Felt I HAD to take over my “listing” as someone else could so I was forced to do it. I fought it 1st & actually got someone to remove it for over 1 year after I turned them in to the BBB & police in there area. I did a formal complaint to my police as well. Then it popped up again so I took the name & decided to use all free advertising for my company. I tested it once & took over another carpet guys name & even set up my # – which would have siphoned off clients calling him to me! I called him – gave him the password I set & gave it back to him. He isn’t using it but took it to keep others away at least. try contacting them at the above http. maybe it will work to threaten them too! Send me info on how to find you & I can see if I can help….if you want. Send me an email through my www site.

  190. Kelly says:

    the “negative” comment they said I had was never there – totally bogus – sorry to see it has happened to others – if you sign up for the FREE account then you can change data on it. Take control if you can – otherwise can’t cry over it when someone “takes” your merchant id.

  191. Judith Repke says:

    I believe I am signed up for a free merchant circle account because I put my picture on it, but now I can’t get back in and can’t get a password. There are 2 accounts going both with my picture — one with advertising for other people on it –can’t get into that one either.

  192. Dennis V says:

    Businesses at MerchantCircle can and will remove any negative comments or reviews at this website. This is very unfair to the consumer who is not able to read the negative reviews that the businesses do not what consumers to read. Try writing a negative review at their website:, it will be eliminated within days by the business it was written about. Try to call their 800 number from their website: 800-305-9203. It always says this business is temporary closed or want to charge you $34.95 to talk to them. Consumers need to stand up to these so call consumer advocate websites otherwise we the consumer will get taken and scammed into thinking these businesses have only wonderful reviews and do business with them. Stay away from MerchantCircle.

    Email I received from MerchantCircle after questioning why my review about “HEAT USA” was removed:

    Subject: [#MGO-788957]: neighbor / listing-remove=Remove listing /
    Date: 12/28/2010 2:46:11 P.M. Eastern Standard Time

    Merchants are allowed to manage their Reviews feature, hence, they can remove individual reviews or the entire feature if they so desire.

    The MerchantCircle Team
    800 W. El Camino Real, Suite 330
    Mountain View, CA 94040
    Follow us on Twitter:

    Ticket Details
    Ticket ID: MGO-788957
    Department: Neighbors
    Priority: Neighbor
    Status: Closed

  193. aKing says:

    SUCKS! I have been unsuccessful over the last two years, trying to get merchantcircle to remove my (now closed) business information and to stop sending me emails about inquires on that business… it’s impossible! (douche bags) THE COMPANY IS DEAD! WE DONT EXIST ANYMORE… what about that would make you want to leave false information on your website…substandard at best. To top it all off, as I try to file a complaint with the BBB, they’re (SUBMIT) button cleared all the info and said they could not verify the company in their data base.

  194. Marla Hughes says:

    Well, I didn’t do my research so ‘claimed’ my business @ MC before reading this. What’s appalling is that the original post is so old, but we’re still dealing with the same problems with MC.
    As a business I don’t WANT to delete legitimate bad reviews. I want to learn and grow from them. I want to address the problems brought out by bad reviews. If it’s a competitor, I can deal with that by asking rational questions (date of sale, specific problems, address where the clean took place, etc..) that will notify anyone reading the response (or non-response) of the original complainant that it’s not a valid complaint.
    If we treat bad online reviews as we treat bad reviews in a local newspaper or even through the ‘church grapevine’ it’s a simple solution that’s worked for as long as there have been businesses, competition and impossible to please clients/customers.
    A rational being will understand that a bad review can only be taken in the context of other reviews, the mindset of the reviewer and the abilities of any business to get it right all the time.
    So, even though I’m signed up for MC, go ahead, give me a bad review if I need it. Send me a link or a copy. We’ll talk about how to rectify it then. I won’t be going back to MC to give them more web traffic than they deserve.

  195. d.D.ungar says:


  196. CQB says:

    It will take DD Ungar more than just a simple MC delete. Out of business since 1958 osund suspicious because the Monsey Fish Market is propagating across a slew of directories, LOOK >>

  197. ann says:

    Dealing with this company has been a nightmare. My personal telephone number and old address was listed for a company that has a very similar name as mine and a negative review (I should say it was more malicious than anything) was left, intended for a different company. I faxed over Merchant Circle’s listing removal form and two months later, nothing was done. I spend hours trying to talk to someone on their live chat who said they removed the listing, however, they didn’t remove them all. The listing is still be indexed by Google showing in the search engine results a portion of the very negative comments. Back and forth, round and round we go. Merchant Circle says to contact Google, Google says to contact Merchant Circle. The only way Google will remove a cached URL is if the page returns a 404. Merchant Circle refused to do this and the page shows as being live. Why bother removing anything if you’re not going to remove the entire page! I will be indexed by Google for years to come unless This company does something. Every email I’ve sent them I receive an auto response that does not address my email. Every live person I’ve chatted with has rudely disconnected me. Every fax I’ve sent mysteriously never gets there. I am convinced that Merchant Circle is systematically and methodically forcing people to pay their $35 fee for the privileged of speaking with a live person on the telephone. Who ever heard of such a thing? A company can keep your reputation hostage and there is NO CUSTOMER SERVICE number and they make it very clear that emails may take weeks to be responded to if you are not a “member”. This is the worst company I have ever had the misfortune of dealing with. If I could give them a zero star rating I would. I am contacting an attorney and filing as many complaints against them as I possibly can.

  198. Ann, for the life of me I cannot understand why you didn’t simply CLAIM your MC listing, as opposed to removing it. Within minutes of claiming it you could have instantly removed the malicious comments from it.

    Nothwithstanding, the Google ‘cache’ results are temporary and will disappear after a few weeks-to-months.

  199. Lowell says:


    For the life of me, I can’t figure out why you would recommend just giving in to MC’s strong arm tactics. That’s like saying I can protect my family from gang attacks by joining the gang.

  200. ann says:


    First, I did try to “claim my listing” and do just as you suggested however, there was absolutely no option to do so anywhere. I scoured MC’s directions on how to do so and there was NO link anywhere on the page that says “claim this listing” – not kidding.

    Also, Google will keep caching the url search engine result because MC will not remove the page or show a 404. They simply removed the listing, not the page and the title that appears in searches still shows up and it is just as damaging as the actual review.

  201. Ann, see our different response on Gail Gardener’s GrowMaps site where you also left a comment.

    Regarding how long the “ghost memory” will remaining in the Google cache, Matt McGee who runs this site is a national search engine expert and he may disagree, but I think tops 90-days and it will go away.

  202. Trace says:

    Today I got a MC email telling me someone posted a 3 star rating. It also said a review will not be associated with the rating but it will affect my overall score. So I can’t see what they wrote, who they are, or remove the rating because I haven’t paid MC any money. Mafor ripoff going on here.

  203. Trace says:

    Sorry- on edit- MAJOR ripoff going on here.

  204. Trace – there is no “ripoff” as you call it. There IS a major misunderstanding/lack of understanding.

    With regards to your three star rating received there was no review – only that someone clicked THREE STARS – did NOT write a review.

    Personally, I recommend that you learn how to use your MC and it will serve you well.

  205. Trace says:

    Can I tell if this was an actual customer? Can I see who rated me 3 star?

  206. Marcus says:

    Trace – No, actually. Star ratings 1-5 can be left anonymously without a review. Relatedly, your star-rating average can be reset to 5-stars, if necessary.

  207. Pat Shelton says:

    I am sooo frustrated with Merchant Circle too! I used to believe it was a legitimate company and YES, they did get me to sign up for online marketing. For the past 7 months I have not been able to log in to my account. It is impossible to get a live person to help. I have followed all the troubleshooting prompts. I can’t even get a live person so I can stop being billed for their supposed services. This company is horrible!

  208. marcus says:

    Pat – You say you cannot login? What happens when you do a password reset?

  209. Trace says:

    So Marcus- how is this a good service? Anyone, including my competitor can go in and get me bad ratings. Heck, they can get their whole family to do this…..

  210. ann says:

    How could a company with 300 complaints with the BBB in the past two years have a B+ rating with the BBB? This is mind blowing. I have attempted to have our business listing removed too many times to count and nothing gets done. They don’t answer their customer service number (the one you have to pay $35 for the privileged of speaking with a real person, every detailed email sent was never responded too, just a auto respondent message and their “live chat” feature is NEVER available. This company is a joke. I URGE EVERYONE WITH A GRIEVANCE AGAINST THIS COMPANY TO FILE A COMPLAINT ONLINE WITH THE BBB AGAINST THEM. Let’s flood the BBB with complaints that Merchant Circle will have to respond to. There is no other way short of a class action suit to get their attention. Here is the link to file a complaint with the BBB:


  211. wayne says:

    Merchants Circle is a scam, made up of people
    who try to blackmail you into listing with them.I thought after the run in with them months ago that was the end ( so they said )
    Yet my business continues to be listed by them.
    Hopefully one day the courts will shut them down or lawyer even.


  212. Bill says:

    I used to enjoy MC but that enjoyment is turning into aggrevation.

    MerchantCircle does not respond period! I get periodic TOS violation notices and no matter how hard I try, I cannot get a response to an e-mail or a phone call to find out why. I can only guess that it is because I post in the “Talk to Me” section a lot and always give 5 star ratings when I do. Perhaps it is a competetor making complaints.

    They promote “Connecting” but when you are successful at that, and connect a lot, they don’t like it. “I must be doing something wrong if I have over 18,000 connections.”

    Live help is obviously automated. “Jenny” cannot tell you how much 1+1 is.

    In their defense, they offer an opportunity to promote your business without charge. The more content you put on your MC site, the better search rankings you will have.

    One thing I never like is feeling like you are clicking around in a mine field of Google ads. That is how they make their money in addition to their premium listings. You cannot blame them for making money while providing a service.

    We as users of the service always have the option to spend our time and efforts elsewhere, which I am about to do. I don’t like being penalized for being successful. That is an ideology that is far too pervasive in our country.

    Don’t get me started!

    Thanks for the forum,


  213. Larry Menkes says:

    Merchant Circle certainly acts and looks like a scam. The listings that they have for us seem invented, and as a start up company the last thing we need is false bad reviews.

    We didn’t get a call because they listed bad phone numbers. However, they seem to have mixed us up with someone else.

    Does anyone know what’s going on with this or who oversees these types of scams?

  214. They will not let you write a bad reveiw about companys they list. And well change a 1star to a 5star, we need the truth about these company’s. Not a compny that well cover up what bad thing these companys are doing. They make it impossible to write a bad reveiw on any company lited with them.or they just don’t know how to run a web site. It one of the two.but I don’t think there looking out for anybody but themself. can anybody do what’s right anymore.helping people instead of screwing them. Let people post the TRUTH.

  215. Barbara Hunt says:

    I did not list with this company. Now I have a nasty review that obviously was written by someone whom never visited my business. Does anyone know how to fight back?

  216. Cat says:

    Please add diVIne Catering to the list. We NEVER created an account with this company, and all of our personal information is listed on this account, including a map to my employers home!!! Terrible company with poor business practices and ethics.

  217. Lane Leckerman says:

    I have been trying to get off this mc site because i cant trace b the bad reviews and rectify them and I think their bogus. Merchant circle wont return any correspondence at all. I am going to have my lawyer send them a cease and desist letter along with a letter to the attorney generals office. Anyone who wants to join me please call me 215 947 3939!!!

  218. I update my listing but it does not get out to the public. The information that I posted back in 2010 is still on , which is really outdated. To me that does not help me at all or the people that are looking for me. Merchant Circle does not help small businesses at all.

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