Merchant Full Circle

Earlier today an odd thing started to happen – new comments started pouring in on a months old post I wrote on MerchantCircle, a local business search play. Apparently today the company started automatically calling merchants in its listings database, and what MerchantCircle had to say really upset any…

Earlier today an odd thing started to happen – new comments started pouring in on a months old post I wrote on MerchantCircle, a local business search play. Apparently today the company started automatically calling merchants in its listings database, and what MerchantCircle had to say really upset any number of business owners. Apparently in the call MerchantCircle informed the business owners of their relative rankings and reputation in the system, regardless of whether or not the news was good. As one might expect, if your entire livelihood is in your small business, and an automated system leaves you a voicemail telling you that there is an “unfavorable review” of your livelihood, why, you take that personally.

So what do you do? Well, you fire up Google and do a search for “Merchantcircle,” of course. After all, you want to know what is up with this company, which you’ve never heard of, and Google is always your first stop. And who has the third link on Google, and the first non MerchantCircle related link? Yup, Searchblog. You read my (not very deep) thoughts on the company, and then notice there is a comments section. AHA! A chance to take action is born, and action is taken.

As more and more comments pile on, the site author (that’d be me) takes notice, and I sent an email to Ben Smith, the CEO, alerting him to the issue. Ben has responded that he’s on it.

What I love about this story is how search becomes the connective tissue between cause and action, conversational stitching in real time. Magic.

Author: John Battelle

A founder of NewCo (current CEO), sovrn (Chair), Federated Media, Web 2 Summit, The Industry Standard, Wired. Author, investor, board member (Acxiom, Sovrn, NewCo), bike rider, yoga practitioner.

60 thoughts on “Merchant Full Circle”

  1. 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
    email: abuseteam@svcolo.com
    info@svcolo.com
    support@svcolo.com

    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.

  2. Today, Merchant Circle requested that I provide five of our company’s business contacts in order to “Verify” our business. I naively did so. Within minutes, all five had received emails with MY return address and MY signature on a letter recommending Merchant Circle services.
    Of course I contacted my suppliers immediately to apologize, but the damage is done. Does anyone know if there is any recourse for this?
    I now see that his company is not only deceptive – they are disreputable.

  3. The link for the BBB report on Merchant Circle which seems very light on information. Seems hard to believe that given all the negative experiences people have with Merchant Circle that there wouldn’t be more information available there:

    http://goldengate.bbb.org/WWWRoot/Report.aspx?site=99&bbb=1116&firm=303722

    I personally was an advertiser with Merchant Circle only to have fraudulent credit card charges from them which I will detail in another post.

  4. MC over two years ago within my community and took advantage of the ad dollars they would pay out if I were to invite merchants and write endorsements. I must add that I really thought in 2006 that MC was doing a great service but now I’m sorry I encouraged my business social network to join. There are many more details concerning my specific MC drama but I have an idea that hopefully may catch on and settle the issues that we have all experienced without lawyers getting paid.

  5. Silicon Valley Colocation is no longer hosting them, and says they haven’t been for over two months. As for the BBB, they are a fraud in themselves, they represent themselves as a regulating government agency, which they are not.

    Merchant Circle has been frauduently making charges on my credit card. The credit card companies discourage changing the card number, and says it won’t help anyways> they’ll still let the charges go to the new account number (They cite some regulation Z in the code of Federal Regulations, but cannot go beyond that, with detail, because they do not know themselves)

    What a mess….

  6. I got a call from Merchant Circle today wanting me to pay 71 dollars a month to improve our listing. I told her we were already on top at Google. She said she was searching and that we weren’t on the first page on Yahoo and we didn’t show up on Bing.
    I finally hung-up on her after I had already told her I wasn’t interested and she said she wanted to record me giving a list of keywords!?!?
    After the call I searched on Bing and Yahoo and we were on top there too, so that means she told me a lie!

  7. Serious issues with this company. I am not a customer of theirs and they have posted a ridiculous supposedly anonymous complaint about our company, with the headline on google search of “Questionable Business Practices of Lauten Construction” followed by the text of the complaint that says “I worked with Lauten and they were a chore” What does that mean? what business practice does it refer to?

    We have been in business for 23 years good thing we have repeat customers or we would have failed this last two years. In order to get rid of this comment I will have to pay money, join merchants circle and then I can monitor these comments. Is this the internet version of a protection racket. I think so!!!!!!!

  8. I haven’t used Merchant circle before, but I have thought about it. I want to get more traffic to my landscaping business. I think for now I will stay away from them. It  sounds like there are some bugs to be fixed.

    http://www.jubileescape.com

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