Wednesday, 15 August 2012

A Monster Load of bad publicity for Publicity Monster

As you would have seen from my collectible coin scam and questionable art investment with a guaranteed return post is that I actually quite enjoy busting what I think are questionable or downright dodgy business practices.  When I was reading the newspaper last week I came across a journalist who looked like he had done the same thing.  While I get 3000 - 4000 page views a month on this site (as at August 2012) this journalist wrote for Fairfax Media, one of the biggest publishing houses in Australia and the expose was therefore that much bigger.

The company that was being called out for it's business practices was Publicity Monster, an Australian company which offers search engine optimisation (SEO) services to businesses in Australia.  I will say up front that I have never had any dealings with this company - everything I write here I have sourced from information posted on the Internet by other providers and I will be linking to those sites.  I do not know whether this company is a bad operator but I would recommend reading the independent reviews of them on the Internet before doing business with them.

I first came across this company when I was reading this article ).  This article claims that Publicity Monster
  • Does not deliver on the promises they make
  • Threatens customers who complain with legal action
    • [Edit]: For the removal of doubt I mean that the article suggests that they threaten, with legal action, customers who complain online
  • Does not honour its money back guarantee
    • [Edit]: I have since been informed that they do honour the money back guarantee but that the opportunity to apply for such the refund only exists within a very narrow timeframe (90 - 100 days)
  • Harasses customers demanding payment
  • Threatened to sue Fairfax Media for printing the article about them
Now I honestly thought that this had to be an exaggeration - a journalist who was trying to make a name for himself by doing a hatchet job on a company could be THAT bad.  But then I made it to the Whirlpool forum where LOTS of customers had voiced their dissatisfaction with Publicity Monster - see the link here. It really is worth reading those posts to see the stuff that the people on that forum have dug up on this company (which includes using pictures of missing persons to give false reviews - note once again that these are again claims made by Whirlpool posters - but they provide plenty of evidence to back up many of their claims)

For a company that is all about publicity - Publicity Monster seems to be getting an awful lot of bad publicity.  Actually I found it a little bit suspect that traditional 'ratings sites' such as True Local had either reviews with half a star or ones with five stars.  I've never seen a discrepancy like that unless someone is playing games with the ratings site.

Lessons for those (like me) who are looking to start an only business

The world of SEO is confusing for many of us who are just starting online businesses.  The idea that someone can help you get your search ranking up seems really appealing.  Having read these reviews though I personally am a lot more wary about a lot of the firms that offer these types of services and especially of Publicity Monster.

The big lesson is to obviously make your own choice but before you do have a look at what other customers have to say about the business.  For Publicity Monster definitely have a read of the Whirlpool forum and other users' experiences before you commit.


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  2. Great article 90m. As with all new emerging industries, SEO is full to the brim with dodgy business people.
    These sort of dodgy practices will inevitiably die out as consumers become more educated and legislation is passed to regulate the industry better.

    Until then, our business is trying to reduce the number of people getting burned by making an effort to highlight common ways they can be exploited.

    Feel free to review our blog for more details on these types of scams as we become aware of them.

    1. Hi SGS - I find the hardest thing about SEO is trying to seperate the bad operators from the good ones.

      I really like the advice you've provided on your blog - as well as the scam alerts you provide. I'll definetely visit your blog from time to time.

    2. Thanks 90m, we are a bit slack with updating our blog, but I'm glad you found some value in what is up there!

  3. I have included several edits to the article in response to some comments on other forums about this post.

    I should note however that I do not have first had knowledge or experience of this issue and the sources of all my information have been noted (through links) above