This time from Utah company Local Verifications.
Last week I wrote about another company using robocalls to sell people on search engine services such as updating their Google business listing.
Yesterday I received another one of these calls on my cell phone from a different company. This time the perpetrator was Utah company Local Verifications.
The robocall, which came from a local number 512-999-7240, started with a message suggesting that I’m not the only person getting barraged with calls about updating my Google listing.
“Are you tired of getting phone calls about your google listing?” the friendly voice asked.
Why yes, I am. Especially since I don’t have a Google local business listing!
The robocall patched me through to a sales person, who stated that his company Local Verifications is a Google Certified Partner. He explained that, since Google doesn’t have resources to contact everyone, they partner with companies like his.
I asked him how he got my number, and he explained it was from resources because his company is a Google partner.
So I went to the company’s website at LocalVerifications.com to take a look. Interestingly, although the site contains badges suggesting that its “clients” include YouTube and Yahoo, there’s no Google partner badge.
I asked the caller about this, and he explained that they were having website coding issues with the partner badge, so it was recently removed. But he informed me I can search for Google Certified Partners and look them up.
…So I did. On the phone, in real time. I couldn’t find the company when I searched the Google Partners database. The telemarketer then started typing in his company name in multiple ways in the search and said it also wasn’t coming up. He then noted that other companies like Local Lighthouse, which update Google listings, don’t show up either. (That’s no surprise, given that Google is suing Local Lighthouse.)
The telemarketer then said his company has a Google Partner ID, which can be used to verify the company. When I asked for it, he said he used to have it but doesn’t have it available any more.
Why was Local Verifications bothering me in the first place? Well, apparently it connected my cell phone number with a mortgage company, perhaps through a Google search.
The company offered to help me fix the Google Listing for this business, one that says the business is permanently closed, for a one-time $359 fee. For $399, they can also help with Apple Maps and Bing.
To help close the deal, he mentioned the Better Business Bureau, that his company is regulated by the FTC and is PCI complaint.
Let’s unpack these first two, because they are amusing.
The Better Business Bureau does indeed have a record for the company…a record of F. In fact, Local Verifications has railed against BBB, saying it’s not accredited by the BBB because it thinks the group is unfair. Why is the caller promoting BBB when its site says it’s not accredited and doesn’t believe in it?
It’s even more amusing when you look at Local Verifications’ website, under the “Our Clients” section:
Yes, that’s a logo suggesting the company is BBB Accredited with an A rating. Seems at odds with the page on its website saying they aren’t accredited, doesn’t it?
That might be an FTC or trademark violation, which brings us (in part) to the FTC claim.
The telemarketer explained to me that the company is regulated by the FTC. Because of this, they record all phone calls. If I later say they didn’t deliver on something they promised on the sales call, I can ask for a recording of the call and they’ll email it to me.
Hmm. At this point, I asked if the FTC is also the same company that handles the Do Not Call List. Yes, he replied.
I told him this was strange, because the number he called was my cell phone and is on the Do Not Call list.
He said that the Do Not Call list doesn’t apply to business phone numbers.
I explained that I’ve never heard of the business he called me about, and I’m not sure why the number would show up somewhere as being connected to a business.
He said if you Google my phone number, it shows up as being associated with a business. He then pointed out a Google result connecting my number to a business. Much of the information on that page was false, and it appears the data was pulled from very old whois listings from 15 years ago.
Even if my number was connected to a business, do they not scrub the numbers they call against the Do Not Call list?
No, he replied.
I also asked him why they called from a local number if they’re in Utah. He said that most of the businesses they call still only have a landline (so?) and that it cuts down on long distance charges.
The good news is that my phone call was apparently recorded. So I asked him if they’d email a copy to me.
He said no, only if I’m a customer.
So I guess I need to pay $359 to have incriminating evidence against Local Verifications.
The kicker? I received yet another robocall from the company later in the afternoon.