February 1, 2007

A fantastic debacle indeed.

I hate to kick a poor sales rep while he’s down, but this is a story about a mistake that everyone should know NOT to commit. Plus it’s really funny. Anytime a mistake becomes a problem that becomes a fiasco, it’s funny. I tried to explain it to this poor acct. manager today what actually transpired unbeknownst to him, but couldn’t do it without laughing (sensitively). Now let me explain:

RedZee SearchUnless we’re talking about arbitrage, I’d never advocate any sort of 3rd tier traffic sources. The traffic is just adware-generated garbage, rarely goes over one pageview/visitor, and just serves to dilute our attention from the traffic that really matters. In this case, his time we’re talking about RedZee Search, a noted 3rd tier search traffic provider that provides blended traffic from a number of sources (their explanation was totally baffling to me as to where they get this traffic from). I happen to have a new client with an existing arrangement with RedZee (for now), and I was in the process of giving them some tracking URLs so that I could monitor how bad this traffic really is.

It began with an innocuous customer service notice:

From: Poor Soon-to-be-Roasted Sales Rep
Sent: Monday, January 29, 2007 6:56 AM
To:
Poor Soon-to-be-Roasted Sales Rep
Subject: Please Update Contact Info

Please update the contact information for RedZee Search
Thank You,

Poor Soon-to-be-Roasted Sales Rep
Sr. Corporate Account Manager
RedZee Search Inc

DOH!But the email above wasn’t a full representation of what happened. The real email included the email addresses of around 100 “clients” in the CC field. Doh!

What could really happen though? Could it really be that big of a mistake?

Yes. The next thing that happened was that a disgruntled client emailed the entire list of clients & prospective clients with the message below. The entire thing was in bold type (because that makes it more important), so the added emphasis and titles on the links are mine:

To All Who Received The Message Below From RedZee:

I also received a copy of this request to “Update Contact Info”. I am writing to all of you to inform you of our company’s experience with RedZee. We own and/or operate approximately 50 web sites.

We paid for 2000 “clicks” as a “test run” for one web site with RedZee, which were to run until they were depleted. Our company uses a very sophisticated tracking system, which counts virtually every click (unless the visitor has their web browser set to “Block Referrer – less than .4%) and indicates the web site that referred the visitor.

We were informed that our 2000 “clicks” had all been used and that we needed to pay more money.

In reality, we received only 93 clicks. Not a single one of these “clicks” went past our landing page, the average length of the “visit” was 1.7 seconds and none resulted in a single sale (we have an pretty high average conversion ratio of 2.7%).

Luckily, we did the small “test run” before committing any large part of our advertising budget to RedZee.

After becoming suspicious, I did a little research (should have beforehand). While there are a few “planted” good reviews, most likely placed by RedZee, I found that a large number of business feel that they were “ripped off” by RedZee.

I’ve been told three times by three different RedZee employees that the amount charged would be credited back to my card that same day. It’s been 3 months since the last time I heard that and nothing has been credited (I plan to initiate a chargeback through my credit card company).

Before giving this company money, do some research by going to Google, Yahoo or any of the major search engines. You’ll find thousands of negative comments about the company and their unsavory practices, not to mention taking your money without giving you anything for it.

Here are just a few links you might want to check out:

Professional Web Services Article (URL Shortened)
http://www.searchengineguide.com/dunn/2006/0713_rd1.html
http://www.seomoz.org/blogdetail.php?ID=465
http://www.webmasterworld.com/ppc/3184419.htm

My purpose in sending this email is to keep others from being defrauded, as our company was. I hope reading this will make everyone think twice and do a little research before doing “business” with RedZee.

Sincerely,
LW

Did the problem stop there? Nope. The email message has now become a bona fide email conversation happening among 50-100 different soon-to-be-ex clients. At least 3 different prospective clients have responded and confirmed that they’re not going to purchase any traffic from RedZee. Other existing clients now realize what a mistake they made thinking that real traffic was this easy to obtain. What could have been a totally simple, harmless email became a seething venting process for unhappy clients – essentially a PR nightmare.

Here are some fairly important tips to remember when sending customer service emails:

  • Don’t EVER make your customers’ emails visible.
  • Don’t EVER make your customers’ emails visible.
  • Don’t EVER make your customers’ emails visible.

If you’re considering using the service, do your due diligence: Ross Dunn over at SearchEngineGuide (referenced above), folks at DigitalPoint and many others have done a more than sufficient job reviewing the service. I don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but I couldn’t resist calling some attention to this email-turned-fiasco.

4 Comments »

  1. More Pay Per Click Problems

    Here’s more on pay per click. While this article is mainly about how one company is getting creamed because of its own stupidity (whether you send out a mass email, and reveal, in the “cc” section of the email, the…

    Trackback by Effective, Ethical Marketing For Attorneys — February 2, 2007 @ 4:27 am

  2. One word: Wow.

    Those emails should go up on the web. It would probably make a great read. ;)

    Comment by Tamar Weinberg — February 2, 2007 @ 11:22 am

  3. That would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad. One thing you forgot to mention:
    Don’t EVER make your customers’ emails visible.

    Comment by David Temple — February 4, 2007 @ 7:43 am

  4. I received a similar email from merchant that I am affiliated with, containing about a hundred email addresses in the cc. I was nice enough to write them back and explain to them their problem as well as introduce them to Bcc feature, which obscures the mailing list, and to tell them thanks for the new contacts. They didn’t have that problem again.

    Comment by Brian Laks — March 3, 2007 @ 9:52 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Copyright 2014 Abhilash Patel.
All rights reserved.