Trying to hide a reputation problem – how not to do it

Touch Local’s attempts to stuff Google with its own content for the keyphrase ‘touch local scam’ looks… well, dodgy

In the first quarter of 2010, online business directory service Touch Local had some reputation problems centered on a significant number of angry customers posting here on my site.  The Google keyphrase that brought them here was ‘touch local scam’ although the post they arrived at did not contain the words ‘touch local scam’ nor did I say or imply the company was anything other than reputable.

The reality was that those people arrived here because the Google algorithm connected the keyphrase ‘touch local’ (which I did use on my post) and the keyword ‘scam’ which is found in plenty of other places in my content and returned my post in the Google search results.

I chose to publish those customer comments – a decision which, over time, forced Touch Local to be seen to try to address the problem.  In the end, a small number of those complaints were resolved. My contribution to that resolution however didn’t stop Touch Local resorting to legal threats demanding I remove the comments left by their unhappy customers and accusing me of initiating a defamatory thread about them. Having helped a few people out and having learned what there was to learn from the situation (and with no desire to spend money fighting pointless legal battles), I took the comments down.

Doing a quick search in Google tonight, however, I can’t help noting what Touch Local seems to have learned from that experience.  Rather than become more willing to look at what might lead a customer to either search or post with a keyphrase such as ‘touch local scam’, they appear to have gone all out to stuff Google with their own content to cover up any further critical feedback.

A search for that keyphrase reveals a very large number of Touch Local pages with titles like ‘Don’t touch local scam companies in London’  and ‘Don’t touch local scam companies in Birmingham’ and so on (through every town where Touch Local operates). It doesn’t take an SEO genius to spot the real motivation behind those pages: they’re trying to ‘own’ the top of Google search results for that phrase.  Any reasonable person might ask why.

It turns out that the content on those pages is Touch Local’s guide on how to write reviews for good and bad companies within Touch Local.

Ironically (click thumbnail on the right for a larger image) their advice for reviewing a bad company explicitly encourages you to label them ‘a scam‘. Or, to put it another way, to do exactly what they couldn’t bear their customers doing to them earlier this year. One law for Touch Local and another for everyone else it seems.

If you’re interested in protecting your online reputation, don’t make the mistake of trying to suppress your critics this way. It won’t work in the long run because people will recognise what you’re doing – and at that point they’re going to start asking why.

If you’re thinking about using Touch Local you might like to read this account from 2011 of their sales technique. It raises many of the issues that I raised in my original posts about this company. The irony is that from my position I can see that the reputation problems that TL has created are as the result of two things:

1) A terrible over-incentivised sales approach and

2) an inherently flawed product designed to capitalise on prospects ignorance and their need for more business.

This in itself is a recipe for trouble – but the even bigger problem is that TL doesn’t seem to be willing to address those two problems, preferring instead to try to cover up and silence its critics. And as I’ve said in my online reputation posts about a million times, it’s this refusal to engage openly with them that will drive your customers to social media to vent their frustration.

Comments

  1. Wayn says:

    Hi

    An interesting article indeed, I’m currently having problems with Touch Local since I joined them back in July 2010 and do wonder about the way they do business.

    I don’t wish to talk about specific issues, but I can say that there are many directory stile websites popping up similar to Touch Local who phone you offering a service, promising you that their website will pop up top of the search engines for keywords related to your business, but you soon find out that their not anywhere to be seen after scrawling through pages of Google search engine.

    Now, with understanding online marketing world, this was something I was able to check, but for some small businesses, they wouldn’t know where to start an would indeed get scammed.

    This, if it was a printed advert in a newspaper or magazine would would be soon sorted as misleading, but telephones sale people it a little more difficult..

    Wayne

  2. Sam Deeks says:

    Wayne, thanks for your comment. I’ve had a few comments since publishing this particular post (that DID go into detail) that I haven’t published but passed directly to Touch Local for them to sort out – assuming, of course, that they want to. I published yours because you didn’t go into detail but made a general point which I think is very fair.

    I think the problem is that, like all similar online directories aimed at giving Google visibility to small businesses, Touch Local will appeal to the people who know least about how the web works but are (by definition) the most desperate to get more business from it. As a result, the potential for mis-selling and mis-buying is considerable.

    I’m sure TL don’t want to be thought of that way, but unfortunately, my experience of them shows they have problems in this area.

    Thanks for the comment and good luck sorting it out – whatever it is.

  3. craig taylor says:

    hi there touch local in my opinion is a waist of time i advertised on there 4 months ago to try and get landscape garden work in the south west region however there has been no luck so i have been out of work. i offered them a payment arrangement of £30 per month until the work pickes up but they refused it so now i face court procedings i think touch local is nothing more then a campany tht wants their money and they dont care what curcumstances their clients are in.

    http://www.ratedpeople.com/profile/taylors-gardening-services/index

  4. Sam Deeks says:

    Hi Craig – thanks for the comment and your opinion. You’re not alone in trying this route, finding it didn’t work for you and then feeling bad about not being able to get out of it. In my experience, Touch Local could do an awful LOT more to rein in its sales people to reduce the risk of people buying on unrealistic expectations of the benefits they’ll get for their money.

    I know that TL read here occasionally. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this kind of business is so prone to creating unhappy customers that anyone running an online directory would be advised to doubly-carefully train its sales people and customer service operatives. Why is it prone? Because, by default, it sells to people who want more business but don’t understand what is / isn’t possible in terms of Google marketing. That is a recipe for a mismatch of expectations, leading to bad vibes and reputation problems.

    We’ve already seen a whole pile of that here and it won’t stop happening unless the business concerned takes the lead in ensuring its customers expectations are realistic.

    The problem these businesses have is that is against their interests in the short term because they’d be explaining themselves out of easy sales. It all comes down to whether you’re short or far-sighted.

    BTW – Touch Local, I’ve recommended this before, but I’ll do it again – consider registering your business on Get Satisfaction http://getsatisfaction.com/ – it really is an excellent arena to solve difficult customer service problems before they become reputation issues.

  5. Mark Jackson says:

    i dont suppose you can help me on a matter that is playing on my mind that its keeping me awake at night…….
    i had an advert with touch local and never got any inquiries the whole year so didnt bother to renew the advert.
    i paid up in full and thought that would be the end of it…….
    two months later i have had a letter from a collection company SUPPOSEDLY working on behalf of touch local saying i owe them over £800!!!!!!!!!! i am distraught about the whole thing but just cant get in contact with anybody to sort it out.HELP me please.
    regards
    MARK JACKSON

  6. Sam Deeks says:

    Mark, I’ve approved your comment in the hope that TouchLocal will read it, contact you and try to resolve this issue with you.

    TouchLocal, you’re welcome to respond to Mark here. I’ll also pass on Mark’s email to you privately if you’d like to contact him.

  7. Mark Jackson says:

    Sam,
    ive now found the letter from C.A.R.S to whom i paid 4 installments of £114.56 so that the full contractual balance was paid off…… im still getting letters fromLASKERS saying the costs have gone up to £859.20!!!!!!!! please help me .

    regards
    mark jackson

  8. Sam Deeks says:

    Hi Mark – I read somewhere that you’re entitled to protection from debt collection attention if you are in dispute with an organisation that claims you owe it money…?

    If so, I would suggest putting it in writing to Touch Local that you dispute their claim first. If they’re not prepared to discuss with you (or they ignore you altogether) then you need to take it further – possibly Trading Standards.

    Either way, I encourage you to use every means possible to speak to someone at Touch Local to explore why they think you owe them money. Whether they agree with you or not, they are duty bound to respond to your query.

    Best of luck!

  9. Ged Kirby says:

    Been with touch local for 12months, promised 50 enquiries a month from TL or I would receive a refund. Didn’t happen. I complained to TL about 6 times, in the end they told me to pay my direct debit until feb 2011 then my contract would be cancelled, Again, it didn’t happen. I received a final order letter in March 2011 saying I owed money to the sum of £206. When I spoke to customer service the person who told me to pay until Feb said that my last payment had been returned. Again not true as I checked my bank statement. When I told them about my statement they said “we meant you to pay until march”!

    I feel as if TL have conned me out of about £1000, so please be aware and dont do business with this company unless you have money to burn.

  10. Sam Deeks says:

    Ged, I hope that Touch Local picks this comment up and contacts you (you’ve made it quite clear who you are in your link). If they don’t, then I can only conclude that they’re not interested.

    I went to Touch Local and tried to search their directory just to see if you were in their directory. Your co. is listed on the first page but ask yourself this: when was the last time you went to Touch Local’s website to search for something you wanted to buy? Exactly – you never did. You – like all the people you want to be your customers – use Google.

    So if having a listing on Touch Local won’t bring you any customers (because no-one uses Touch Local to search for things they want) what else could it possibly offer you to make it worth paying them?

    The only other thing that might make it worth you paying Touch Local would be if they could offer your business better positioning in the Google search results than your own business can for the kinds of keyphrases you want your customers to find you for.

    The simple way to test this is to look at the category they’ve put you in: ‘driving school sunderland’.

    Ok – so go to Google and search for ‘driving school sunderland’.

    If Touch Local was worth paying for, you’d find your listing with them appearing right at the top of Google – above most of the competition and (ideally) above your own website or any Google Map listings. Think about it: if your website or Google Map listing comes higher up in Google than Touch Local’s listing for you, then why are you bothering paying them to achieve less than you’re achieving under your own steam?

    So I search Google for ‘driving instructor sunderland’ and what do I find?

    I find YOU’VE got yourself a P1 listing on Google Maps. YOU’VE got your website a listing on P2 of the natural search results.

    Finally, on P5 I find an indirect listing for you on Touch Local. Your company isn’t even listed by name until the user clicks through to Touch Local – and then you’re lined up (unhelpfully) next to your nearest competitors.

    So where is this increased traffic / business supposed to come from?

  11. Honestsales says:

    Having worked selling Touchlocal listings until late last year I can honestly say you will generate more business from an ad in your local newspaper.

  12. Paul Howard says:

    Hi
    I received a cold call from Touch Local, which eventually ended in an appointment with a rep on 27th May this year.
    The rep offered their services getting me a guaranteed first page on google for £25 a week, which I declined as too expensive, she then made an offer for a first payment of £185 for the first couple of month installements with further weekly payments of £15 for the next ten months. I accepted this as it was on more affordable basis, and was told I would receive an invoice via email within 24 hours, and that the advert would go live within 5 days.

    I called the rep many times over the next 2-3 days as no invoice was received, worrying it was a scam, but was reassured I would have the invoice, this was with no avail and as no calls being returned I then resorted to texting her which again were ignored. I called head office to cancel as no paperwork received, was promised call backs, again nothing,,time and time again.

    1st June payment taken from bank £256.50, 23rd June £256.50 taken from my bank, have spoken with T.L as to why this amount was taken, to be told I couldn’t be found on the system – delay tactics I think. When have asked to speak with rep or any previous point of contact where I have tried to cancel, I have been told they have conveniently left.

    I have spoken again today with T.L and threatened them with Trading Standard and other, finally I have received my invoice via email which I did not agree to with rep, has clearly been altered as could not have afforded those payment terms.

    To date still have no ad listing at all.

  13. Sam Deeks says:

    Paul. That’s not a happy story. But it is a familiar one. This company has serious problems, if you ask me. It did before (when I generously helped bring them to their attention) and still does. I wonder if they’ve learned anything from the previous experience? It doesn’t look like it.

  14. I NOW HAVE “CAPITAL DEBIT MANAGEMENT”COLLECTION SERVICE AFTER MONEY???!!!! A copy of my letter to them for your readers, no news so far just a call from the agency who asked me to send them this letter two weeks ago, so I did, now they call me asking what’s going on today!!!?? I sent you a letter just like you asked!!………

    “Sir/Madame, please find my experience so far.

    I had a phone call from Touch Local and agreed to meet your representative this took place in approx. mid 2010 at the village hotel Dudley.

    During the meeting I explained that my business is all over the UK so a call was made to the “boss” to look into adding more towns. From memory this was Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Telford but I may be wrong.

    The process sounded very good. Someone, I was informed, would review my web site and put me on page 1 of Google and at least 10 new enquiries would be coming my way per month. When I asked ‘what if don’t get any?’ I was promised I would not have to pay and I could just cancel advert at anytime and not to worry.

    This I was promised was an ongoing process where my business advertisement with Touch Local and my web site would be continuously reviewed and updated by the Touch Local expert team to put my profile right up there; sounded fabulous just what I wanted.

    My other concern at the time was I did not know how many enquiries page one of Google would give me if any. I was reassured at this point also that I could cancel and there would be no charges and just to try it for 3 months to let the web site move up the rankings and see how it went. So I agreed.

    The only letter I have received has been from the debit collection agency. No one has looked at my web site at all. I have not heard from anyone from Touch Local since the one call I had just after my meeting with your rep.

    I have never had one single inquiry from any Touch Local advert and none from my web site.

    I cannot understand why this is the case and N*** tells me the advert is not even there on Touch Local.

    Recently I asked N*** to make contact with your company to review why no one from Touch Local has bothered with me and just to make sure I am not being charged as I have not received any bills or emails. Please see the letter below from N*** my accounts/book keeper. (1)

    (1) Letter from N****

    Touch Local

    I called Touch Local customer services in April 2011 to discuss the set up of xxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxxx account. When searching on the directory the company would not appear and I wanted to know why. The customer service advisor advised me that the account was set up incorrectly and would need to make amendments myself. I raised my concerns that we had not had any enquiries to date and that we were guaranteed at least 10 enquiries per month and would not need to start paying the agreed amount until this date. The advisor did not know what had been agreed between the sales consultant, and ourselves and could not comment.

    On the same telephone call I also had a conversation with the accounts department regarding charges and I was advised no costs were forthcoming and at no time did they mention any outstanding balance, but due to the agreement between the sales consultant when setting the account up this did not raise any alarms.

    N*** 7.7.11

    xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx

    I am not prepared to pay charges of over £1000 for a service that has not been remotely provided, my business has not seen any improvement at all. Why has no one called or emailed me in months?

    I am however prepared to discuss this situation and start a fresh as it all seemed like a good idea and still does, I hope we can resolve this matter quickly and move my business forward as I was promised originally.

    Regards,
    DB”

  15. Sam Deeks says:

    Darren, this is outrageous – but doesn’t surprise me at all. I’d recommend you take this to Trading Standards. I’m not convinced that Touch Local is either listening or willing to deal with complaints like yours. I’ve seen this again and again and again with this business. How they carry on making the promises they do and then treating customers like this is beyond me.

    I can’t be bothered to go into detail to explain why, but the claims of putting your website on P1 of Google are nonsense as is the ’10 enquiries’ a month. The only way Touch Local could guarantee 10 enquiries a month would be if someone in their office made the calls themselves – and of course, they’d be completely worthless. The problem with all of these online ‘directories’ promising increased Google visibility and/or leads is that they depend on a combination of hard sell (with totally unrealistic promises) and consumer ignorance (no idea how Google works) to make the sale.

    It’s a recipe for disaster for the customer.

    I hope you take this issue further, Darren. Let me know how you get on, will you?

  16. Viv says:

    I stupidly entered into an agreement with Touch Local without seeing a contract and signing on an electronic device. I cancelled a few days later to be told that it was outside of my seven day cooling off period. The sales representative never mentioned this and, only after cancelling the arrangementby return email, recieved a copy of a contract (however the contact name and email address on this contract were both incorrect). I was later called by the area manager but when I tried to call him back it was on voice message and the message box was full so I couldnt contact him. I have now received letters from a credit management company with additional costs. Although I ‘stopped’ the deposit cheque Touch Local still took one direct debit payment. I am now contacting solicitors with a view to reclaiming the direct debit payment but would warn anyone against having any dealings with this company.

    I am now consulting a solicitor which will incur some costs but

  17. Sam Deeks says:

    Hi Viv
    Sorry to hear you’ve had problems with Touch Local. I hope they read your comments and make some effort to contact you and sort it out.

  18. craig mcintosh says:

    dont go near this company unless you have plenty headache tablets and like to be ignored by.I have sent recorded delivery and photocopied every letter i have sent to this company since feb 2011 untill now sept 2011 i have had no response to my issues, issues like promised 100 phone calls a month told it would be 50pound a month and it leaps to 100 pounds a month. salesman also told me that if this didnt happen i could cancel but still no response from this horible company other than a debt collecting agency called (capital cm) sending me letters sending me emails sending me text borderline harassing me for money for a service and contract that was breached by touch local from day one by a lying ******** sales man ……

  19. Ray Watson says:

    My son was conned by a rep from this company. she then changed his email address so that the contracts etc never reached him. He was promised page one ranking on google a web site design service and special rankings in their directory, (the only thing he did get). I have now had to pay off the debt to avoid even more charges and wondered if anyone has a number for their CEO. I have today emailed their backers at baldertons to complain as well.

    I work in the internet marketing industry and I am going to use the various communication mechanisms available to me to put as many people off this bunch of scum bags as I can.

    There is one helpful person called Gay and her direct number is 01642 356238 anyone who has a problem should call her [edited]

  20. Ray Watson says:

    I hve now reported thm to Trading Standards and they are passing this to the local people to investigate.

  21. Rashid says:

    Touch Local……………..[edited]……….Their product is nothing but a crappy listing on their website which they charge about £1000 or more a year for. It is well known their business is in trouble if you search about you will find lots of people are suing them. Even their own ex staff!! Keep em peeled for the end of touch local folks. Thanks to sites like this one us consumers can fight back against these rip off merchants.

  22. Sam Deeks says:

    Hi Rashid

    Thanks for your comment.

    I’ve edited a word in your post – not because you don’t have a right to say it but because TL got all legally threatening on me previously for publishing other comments where their very unhappy customers were using that word to describe them.

    Ridiculous I know, but I think your post makes your point very clearly without it, anyway.

  23. Sam Deeks says:

    And today I found this interesting account

    http://uknotforbbusiness.blogspot.com/2011/05/touch-local-scam-or-is-it-down-to.html

    Worth a read

  24. Paul says:

    very interesting that i have come across this as i was also contacted by touch local and fell for their lying sales boys, since then i hae been informed by many people there tactics are well known by now and anyone who has any sense leaves them alone. i paid nearly one thousand pounds and have not had one new customer from it. all they really do is add a link on their own website and nothing else i should have spent the money on my own website. there are things all over the internet now calling them scammers, con artists or fraudsters. i hope they do go under as my requests for return of my money have been ignored. the sales boys are all over you for a sale and once they get your money you can never contact them agan ever no matter what.

  25. Sam Deeks says:

    Yours seems to be a fairly common experience, Paul. There’s no doubt about it, that business has not earned itself a good reputation in the last few years.

    This isn’t just a company with a few rough edges treating people a bit shabbily, this is a company that couldn’t deliver what it promises even if it had top notch people throughout – because what it appears to keep promising people is impossible. That’s a sure-fire recipe for unhappy customers, increasingly desperate sales people and ultimately, disaster.

    The problem they’ve got (as demonstrated by how they reacted the first time round when they had an opportunity to really learn about what was going wrong via this blog) is that nobody there is willing to face the fact that they’re doing it wrong.

  26. Rashid says:

    Really this Touch Local lark………..[edited]. How can paying £1000 for a link on their website be more beneficial than investing that money in your own tailored website? I mean have a look at the link below.

    http://www.fasttrack.co.uk/fasttrack/leagues/dbDetails.asp?siteID=3&compID=2962&yr=2011

    Touch Local have big offices in London and throughout the UK. They charge SME’s and one man bands big bucks for not much. They have been given £18 million pounds from Balderton Capital and they are still losing money?

    Interesting that the CEO of Touch Local Mark Livingstone is also with graze.com – and if you search on google you will see the predictive search ‘graze telephone number’. It seems this is his latest way to get monthly money in (selling nuts by post). Trouble is it seems (if you read MSE forums and others) it seems difficult / impossible to cancel the subscription (a bit like Touch Local). Ho hum. What next?

  27. Sam Deeks says:

    Thanks, Rashid – and for the interesting link to Balderton’s. Since I first looked into Touch Local (and other similar businesses) and did simple tests to see what they offered, I haven’t been able to work out what value they add.

    I’ve written YET another post on the common-sense test anyone can do to find out whether TouchLocal is delivering results for a paying customer or not.

    You can find it here: http://www.mukaumedia.co.uk/touchlocal-listing-find-money/

    The logic is very simple. All you have to do is go to any TouchLocal category and choose a company that’s paying for its listing. Note the company name, the TouchLocal category its in and its location. I chose ‘Southern Neon Signs’ in the category ‘sign makers’ located in Southampton.

    Next, go to Google. Imagine you’re a prospect and you’re searching for – yes, you’ve guessed it – a sign maker in Southampton.

    Remember: if you’re Southern Neon Signs, you’re paying TouchLocal to put you in front of that prospect. Anything else is irrelevant.

    Look at the Google search results. First: can you find any TouchLocal listings? If you can, is there any sign of the name ‘Southern Neon Signs’ in those listings? No. Notice that in the two listings featuring TouchLocal the first only mentions the category and TouchLocal and the second features the name of a competitor of yours. Ouch. Not very helpful so far.

    Click on the first TouchLocal listings. What do you find? You find a TouchLocal page with first a set of Google Ads for your competitors, secondly a listing for one of your competitors and finally a listing for you. So for your money, TouchLocal brings your competitors to your prospects before you. Nice.

    Click the second listing – the one that actually features a company name. That takes you to the listing of another of your competitors. So for your money, TouchLocal has given ASAP UK visibility in Google but not you.

  28. Ray Watson says:

    Seems to me that their backers at the Independent and Ask Jeeves have a lot to answer for as well. I wonder if they realise that they are associated with a company that has such a bad reputation and lots of unhappy “customers”?

    Seems letter to the editor of the Independent is in order!

    I emailed a couple of the people at Balderstons but of course got no reply.

    Basically an ignorant bunch all round.

  29. Sam Deeks says:

    Thanks for commenting Ray. There have been times throughout this that I’ve caught myself thinking ‘is it fair to capture the unhappy experiences of TL’s customers?’. Then I remember that these people choose to set up in business; choose to create the products they do and choose to sell them to the public. That makes it a public matter, whether they like the bad press or not. The answer to pissing off hundreds and hundreds of customers this badly isn’t trying to stop them voicing their opinions, it’s treating those people better. If not in the first place, then at least now – while there’s still a chance to put it right. But do I get the impression that TouchLocal is interested in putting things right? In learning about where they go wrong from their unhappy customers? I’m sorry, but no, I don’t. More’s the pity.

  30. Paul says:

    Sam, I do not think touch local want to put things right because they cant as their whole business model is flawed and is just based on sales people saying things that are not true i have spoken with trading standards and they told me they have been investigating touch local for over a year and are in regular contact with touch local about their sales tactics.

  31. Paul says:

    also are there any contact details for balderstons as i think they should be looking at this very closely as it is their money that they will lose when touch local gets found out i really hope watchdog get onto this and shame them for what they are.

  32. Sam Deeks says:

    Hi Paul. Call me a ridiculous old optimist… but I always think there’s room for people to put things right. But I agree with you completely: so far, TouchLocal hasn’t left that impression anywhere in this trail online (here or on others sites). Which is stupid – because of all people you’d think they’d have at least an inkling of how quickly treating customers badly will create a bad online reputation, and what that will cost them in the long run?

    I blogged about this in the first place not because I had any grudge against TouchLocal and I still don’t. I blogged because, like you, I think the basic business model they – and other directories (Yell, UpMyStreet, TheBestOf etc etc etc) – are built on is flawed. I’ve put it politely many times, now I’ll put it bluntly: these businesses exploit a mixture of ignorance (about how Google works) and desperation (for more work and income). Oh, and throw in some commission-based salespeople? Lose, lose, lose, lose, lose.

    And don’t get annoyed with me, TL or Yell or whoever for pointing this out. I didn’t set up a business that mixed those explosive ingredients together; YOU did. And I didn’t piss off your customers by the thousand – YOU did.

    Funnily, that’s the bit that they just can’t get their heads around. When they threatened me with legal action some while ago, they believed that Google-predict came up with the words ‘T*****L**** Sc**’ because of something I’d said on my site. Nowhere on my site did I say that. Google came up with that prediction because enough people – their unhappy customers – were writing it with their own, angry, disgruntled little fingers.

    And who sent them scurrying angrily to their computers to do that? TouchLocal of course. But they just would NOT accept that reality. Mad.

  33. Paul says:

    sam it speaks volumes that they had to set their so called lawyers on you when what they should have been doing it addressing the problem. i have been speaking to someone who is well up for going undercover and filming the antics of touch local and their sales staff and i will let you know how it goes because it will look good on you tube and watchdog when it happens.

  34. Sandra says:

    Oh my god! I cannot believe I have only just come across this. I have been trying to get a refund from Touch Local for over 6 months. I was approached by a Touch Local salesman and like other people on here I was told I could sign up for a 30 day trial and thereafter, I could pay on a monthly basis. If at any time I was not happy, I could give one months notice to cancel. (I was not shown a contract and was just asked to sign an electronic pad and was told my contract would be sent within 2 days),

    About 3 weeks after I signed, nothing had been done on my advert so I decided to cancel. I did this by email/phone and by sending a letter. It was all ignored. I start getting chased by a debt recovery company (who I now know to be CARS but pretend to be Touch Local, they admitted this to me on the phone). They refused to listen to my point of view and even suggested I did not understand contract law (I have a law degree).

    I reqeseted a refund of the £150 deposit I paid. They ignored my request. Since the salesman came to see me and took my card details, I have received no communication from Touch Local, all I have had is a debt collector chasing me. They have ignored all of my letters and emails.

    I have now reported them to Trading Standards and I am in the process of issuing proceedings against them in the County Court for the return of my £150 plus interest. I will keep you updated.

    I would suggest that a class action is taken out against Touch Local by all people that feel they have been ripped off. They would have to sit up and listen if a website was set up purely to obtain details of people that wish to sue Touch Local. If anyone knows how to set up a website easily, I would happily pay for their services to do so.

    They simply cannot be allowed to continue to rip off business people who are working very hard for every penny while their sales people go around ripping people off left right and centre.

    I have tried to resolve my complaint with Touch Local but they have ignored me. This is the only reason I feel angry enough to put my thoughs on the internet.

  35. Sam Deeks says:

    Well put Sandra. I edited two words in your comment for reasons I’ve explained elsewhere in this post. It’s not because I don’t agree with you or your right to use those words, i just want your experience to make a difference and I don’t have the time, energy or money fighting with TouchLocal’s solicitors about whether or not I have a right to publish their customers’ opinions….As it stands, you’ve explained your situation very well, and I’m sure you’ve put it equally eloquently to Trading Standards and the Clerk of the County Court.

    Many thanks for your comment. Do let me know what happens.

  36. Biff says:

    Hi Sam, Just thought I would say hello and give an update report, as I am one of very lucky 4 that your blog helped out in the first part of 2010.

    I did receive the letter from F**** F**** saying my account was closed and I owed nothing to touch local, but just after that, the calls from l****s started again, I said I had a letter and read it out to them I even offered to send them a copy, but they wanted the original. I was not going to part with it after all your efforts, so I gave them F**** F****’s direct e-mail and phone number telling them she would clear the matter up, they replied its not down to them to prove one way or the other and they still wanted paying, so I suggested they stop harrasing me and take me to court. I would willingly attend and bring along my letter.

    Funnily enough the calls stopped, and I havent heard anything except for late last year a marketing call from touch local asking me if I would like to advertise, I will let you guess the answer i gave :).

    Anyway keep up the good work and I am still eternally grateful to you and your site for airing the problem and opening it up to publc discussion.

    Regards
    Keith

  37. Sam Deeks says:

    Hi Keith – thanks for passing by! Glad to hear you’ve got them off your back – finally. You’ll note I edited out the the names in your comment because I can’t be arsed taking angry calls from TL’s solicitors or, for that matter, the debt-collectors that TL uses and, like I said somewhere else, it’s history, just glad I was able to help a few people. I appreciate your thanks too. This site works quite hard to help lots of people out who have been treated badly, ripped off or scammed and hearing from people that I helped take a load off their shoulders is a nice pay-off. That and a few people clicking my sponsored links while they’re here.

    Anyway, good luck and all the best
    Sam

  38. Biff says:

    I seem to remember a post where touch local were endevouring to address every complaint recieved on here, I guess they thought it would be easier to threaten you and your site with solicitors than keep their word, so out of the 2010 complaints which must have had at least 20 posters on this site only 4 were resolved, and on top of that looking at the above posts it appears they havent improved their tactics much either.

    Is the origonal blog still around?

    I hope and prey given the current economic climate that enforced legistation comes in to help the small businesses that are continually preyed upon by “businesses” that offer advertising at inflated costs, including online and offline who offer the earth and delivering nothing only big unjustified bills and stress,

    all the best
    Keith

  39. Sam Deeks says:

    Hi Keith – I have the original blog archived should I ever need to refer to it. I completely agree with your summary, thanks again for your post.

Speak Your Mind

*

Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree