Almost everyone is computer savvy these days, and while slick advertising still works, people are generally far more skeptical than ever before. However, we all still go for the shiny objects at times, and even the most paranoid fall for ripoff artists. Having worked with background checks for quite some time, one would think I’d be more skeptical than most. Unfortunately, I’ve also had my share of bruised egos, which is why you have got to read the rest of this. My experiences with getting fleeced will hopefully help you avoid a similar fate.
About 3 years ago I was introduced to the concept of using videos to increase traffic to websites. Obviously if you see a picture next to a listing in the search engines, you’re probably more likely to click on it than a bland line of text. Also a video is more interactive and can provide a great deal of information in a relatively short amount of time. Anyway, the plan was to create amazing videos that would deliver amazing results. Well, I’m here today to tell you that if you don’t conduct due diligence on a company you work with, you’re going to have one sore backside when all is said and done. MIND YOU, this includes those services recommended by someone you trust.
A marketing psychologist I have known since 2008 originally put me on to the idea of videos. I fully trusted any recommendations he made, and one day he sent an email about a relatively new video company he’d found in the UK. This company was Video Boosters, and they had claims about conversions and traffic, etc. I immediately contacted them and got the whole process going with a couple hundred dollars. Initially they did manage to fulfill some promises. However, the expectations were fairly small and in hindsight it required very little effort. Of course I was hooked and committed to bigger and bigger projects without first seeing more concrete results.
Fast forward two years and expenses were at $9,000 with absolutely nothing to show for it except a lot of empty promises and some very poorly made, cringe worthy videos. I even had a guarantee of results, and when I tried to collect was told they had “gone in the hole” trying to promote it. It was a charlatan’s dream and would have made any Nigerian scammer quite happy. Today, the brain’s behind that company is at again with a site called yvideoseo.com. This new site provides similar pricing and the same promises as the last one, but is of course much slicker. I recently ran across it while on LinkedIn.
The moral of the story is that you should ALWAYS do your homework and check up on any companies or individuals you do business with. During this whole process I learned a couple of things that might help you with any potential business deals:
- Don’t do business with companies outside the U.S. unless the money you’re going to spend is disposable. Obviously there are exceptions, such as having access to lawyers and a PR firm that can cook up a million dollar PR campaign overnight.
- Despite the convenience I don’t recommend using PayPal for any transaction involving services or larger purchases if there’s any doubt. Ultimately, there’s a very good chance you’ll be left footing the bill if something goes wrong.
- Keep ALL of your email communication in regards to a deal or transaction. Your credit card company or bank will want them and they will help your case immensely.
- If possible pay by credit or debit card. There are no exceptions to this rule. I had a dispute with a fraudulent advertiser last year that turned out favorably because I went through my local bank with the dispute.
- Use the old “if it’s too good to be true, than it is” adage, and apply it ruthlessly. You’ll find this will save you from countless sleepless nights and stressful emails, phone calls, and threats made to try and get your money back.
- Give any business deal or larger purchase of services time to simmer before committing. Think everything over 8 times before committing to anything.
- Make sure you have a business lawyer who can help with drafting contracts and reviewing contracts from other parties. He/she can also help you navigate the legal system.
- Guarantees don’t mean much in the real world unless there’s a company behind them with something to lose.
- Trust your gut on this one. I know some people scoff at this, but the fact is that most of the time your instincts about something not being right are going to be spot on. Just make sure you listen to them.
- Always do an extensive internet search to see if there is any negative feedback associated with the person or company you’re dealing with. And I mean do some digging. Don’t just go with the first page of Google results you see. Get creative with the words you include and you might be surprised.
As you can see, doing a background check on a business deal or before purchasing a service, etc involves more than just taking their word for it. Get educated, be prepared, and above all don’t trust anyone you found online.