Virtually every company in business today has a certain percentage of customers that are not happy. We’re just regular folks, and we understand that. That’s not to say we’re okay with it though. In fact, it hurts to know that there is someone that thinks they weren’t treated right by us. But rather than “hide” these customers or just ignore them, we want to address their issues and make sure that everyone has an opportunity to hear the story.
Web Tools – ripoff?
Overall, we’re pretty happy with our percentage. We started offering our service about 4 years ago, and we’ve had 3 people that have been really vocal about being dissatisfied. You may have even read their claims that Web Tools is a ripoff.
Take a look at the details, and then you can draw your own conclusions.
Case #1: The lawyer
Quite a few of our clients are practicing attorneys, and we are regularly adding to that number. The vast majority of them are very happy with us, and some have retained our services for 2 years or 3 years into the future.
However, there was one exception to that: Joe Patituce, a Cleveland, OH defense attorney.
Here are the key points to consider in this case:
- Joe Patituce never made a complaint to the Better Business Bureau. If you had a legitimate complaint about a company, wouldn't you go to the BBB? Most reasonable people would.
- Joe Patituce never filed a lawsuit against us. He talked about it, but decided against it. As an attorney, Mr. Patituce has a lot of experience with weighing the merits of a case against the weaknesses. He knows that it doesn't make sense to file a lawsuit when the evidence is overwhelmingly against him.
- The claims made by Joe Patituce are easily refuted – by his own words. Joe Patituce makes a lot of wild claims in his online post, and virtually every one of them is the opposite of what he says in his own emails to us. Here's an example:
In an email (sent to us before he became a client), Mr. Patituce writes:
Yet in his public complaint, he claims:
Cleveland is a rather large area, will this include the surrounding suburbs? For instance Westlake, Lakewood, Bay Village, Avon Lake, Rocky River, Portage and Lake Counties? This is a very large issue for me as most companies, such as those that offer similar services to yours say they can only "fix" cleveland and could not offer the surrounding suburbs. The suburbs are where the money is at in cleveland, and while some people may pay from Cleveland I am much more interested in the suburbs that surround Cleveland.
…the city that is closest to me is Cleveland and that is the city I really wanted the results in for a lot of reasons: (1) It is the closest major city so naturally people would use that as a location reference, (2) it is where I practice and do most of my business out of.
Which is it, Joe?
There are multiple other contradictions such as this in the full transcript of this situation, which you are welcome to download and read.
- Joe Patituce gave our company positive reviews to other prospective clients. On one of these reference calls, Mr. Patituce was speaking with a business owner who was considering hiring Web Tools, and he stated, “I am seeing a 2 to 1 return". Would you strongly recommend a company if you felt that company was not delivering as promised?
- The offers from Joe Patituce to resolve this situation have changed several times. In his complaint to us, Joe Patituce first asked for a full refund. He then said that he would reduce his demand by several thousand dollars. When that didn't work, he offered to resolve the issue for an even lower dollar amount. Does it make sense that someone who believes they are “in the right" would continue to reduce their demands for compensation? He even offered to post a “redaction" statement on the Ripoff Report website if we gave him some money.
- We fulfilled our agreement with Joe Patituce. What we promise to do, in writing, is to double the natural traffic to a client’s website. One of the things Joe complained about was that we did not achieve this. Here are the numbers:
The report below was given to us directly from Joe Patituce. This covers a period of 4 ½ months, immediately prior to his newly optimized site going live.
This clearly shows 3,378 visitors over 4 ½ months, which means an average of 750.66 visitors per month. This in turn means that, in order to meet our guarantee, we needed to deliver at least an average of 1501 visitors per month.
Now look at the numbers below. This is the traffic report from his newly optimized site. We took his new site live in mid-December, so the first full 5 months would be January through May (in bold).
For those 5 months, the total number of visitors was 8,463. This translates to an average of 1,692.6 visitors per month. This means we not only met our guarantee, we exceeded it.
Finally, here is an important point to consider:
Prior to hiring us, Mr. Patituce's website was nowhere to be found in Google's organic search results. He hired us to increase the traffic to his site, because that is what we do well. In fact, we guarantee to at least double
the natural traffic to our clients' websites.
This is an important distinction to note. What we promise to do is at least double the natural traffic to the site.
- We don't guarantee to get any particular key word or phrase, because that is not in the best interest of our clients. Think about it – would you rather have twice as much traffic to your site (based on LOTS of key words and phrases), or would you prefer to rank for a single word or phrase? Your prospects search for you a lot of different ways, so if you only rank for a specific phrase you will be missing a lot of business.
- We also don't guarantee a specific spot in the Google search results. No ethical SEO company would offer this. Only Google determines where a site ranks for a particular search. Of course, practically speaking, in order to fulfill our guarantee of doubling your natural traffic we will need to get your site to show up on page one many different ways. But to guarantee those spots would be unethical and probably even fraudulent.
If you want to know how to spot a ripoff SEO company, look for one that guarantees to get you a specific key phrase, or a particular spot on page one of the Google results (or both). What if a lawyer advertised, “If you hire me to defend you, I guarantee a verdict of not guilty!" Not only is this a ridiculous thing to say, it's also not allowed by the ABA. Ripoff lawyers are usually not in business very long.
In spite of all this, our desire was to help Mr. Patituce. It should be clear to anyone in business that we don't want any of our clients to be unhappy. We offered to do work that was over and above any services that he had purchased from us. However, all he would settle for is a refund, and it's also clear that we cannot refund money to a client when we have clearly met our contractual obligations.
If you would like to read the detailed transcript of our experience with Joe Patituce, you are welcome to do so. It is available for download here in PDF format
Here are some of the search phrases for which Joe Patituce was found on PAGE ONE of Google, after we optimized his website:
Juvenile defense attorney Cleveland
identity theft lawyer Cleveland
Homicide defense lawyer Vermillion
homicide defense attorney Vermilion
Sex crimes attorney Vermilion
internet sex crimes attorney Vermilion
domestic violence attorney Vermilion
white collar crime attorney Vermilion
homicide attorney Elyria
white collar crime attorney Elyria
Internet sex crimes attorney Elyria
Sex crimes attorney Elyria
Sex crimes lawyer Elyria
identity theft lawyer Elyria
identity theft attorney lorain
identity theft lawyers lorain
juvenile defense lawyers lorain
sex crimes lawyers lorain
sex crimes attorney lorain
internet sex crimes attorney lorain
internet sex crimes lawyers lorain
white collar criminal defense attorney lorain
white collar crime attorney lorain
auto accident injury attorney lorain
trusted personal injury law firm Sandusky
domestic violence attorney Sandusky
juvenile defense lawyer Sandusky
sex crimes attorney Sandusky
Internet sex crime attorney Sandusky
Internet sex crime lawyer Sandusky
Rape defense lawyer Sandusky
Rape defense attorney Sandusky
white collar crime attorney Sandusky
identity theft lawyer Sandusky
homicide defense medina
top homicide defense lawyer medina
internet sex crimes attorney medina
top internet sex crimes attorney medina
best internet sex crimes attorney medina
best internet sex crimes lawyer medina
juvenile defense lawyer medina
juvenile defense attorney medina
top juvenile defense attorney medina
homicide defense lawyer mansfield oh
drug possession attorney mansfield oh
internet sex crime attorney mansfield oh
rape defense attorney mansfield oh
white collar crime attorney Mansfield
internet sex crimes attorney North Olmsted
auto accident injury attorney North Olmsted
juvenile defense lawyer North Olmsted
wrongful death attorney North Olmsted
sex crimes attorney North Olmsted
Case #2: The Statistician
This is a case where a picture is worth a thousand words. Take a look at the Google Analytics report displayed below.
This report – from Google, who is obviously a neutral third party in these matters – tells 2 things:
- Fact #1: The website was visited by 1,924 people who searched Google and found the site based on almost 1400 keywords. These are non-paid visitors, coming only from the natural search results. In other words, these people said, “Hey, I need to find a statistician – let’s see if Google can come up with something.” When they searched, they were taken to our client’s website. Cha-ching!
- Fact #2: The site was at its peak while we were implementing our service. There are 3 distinct sections in the graph shown above:
- January 1 to around March 20: this was before we were hired (no one was finding the site).
- Around March 20 to early July: during this period, we were optimizing the site and using professionally-written content based on highly searched key words and phrases. The site was flooded with visitors.
- Early July to end of graph: this is when the client decided to make the changes he deemed best, and run the website without our services. Back to the early days – no search traffic.
You’re probably a logical-thinking person – what would you think if you saw that graph? Most reasonable people can look at that report from Google and see where the success took place, and where the failure took place. Frankly, although the increase in traffic is clear, this isn’t even our best work; for other clients, we have been able to get even more traffic than this (and those business owners are ecstatic!). In this case, the business category (statistician) is rather unusual, so the increase in traffic, even though it’s good, is not as high as it might be for our more “traditional” business customers.
The other neutral third party in this matter was the Better Business Bureau – they’ve been dealing with these kinds of disputes for a long time. They don’t take sides, and they don’t resolve a matter based on unsubstantiated claims from a “ripoff” website. They only look at the verifiable facts in each case. In this matter, the Better Business Bureau looked at the complaint and the clear evidence (including the Google Analytics information) and ruled that the case be administratively closed.
Here’s a question to ask yourself
: if your business experienced the increase in traffic like what the report from Google shows for this site, would you consider it a “ripoff”? Most of our clients don’t have time to complain – they’re too busy answering the phone
Case #3: The Fisherman
Our money-back guarantee, which is the same for every new client, states clearly that we will at minimum double
the number of non-paid visitors to the client’s website. For the majority of clients we go well beyond that requirement, but in order to keep our end of the agreement, we must at least double it.
In order to make sure we have achieved that, we need to have a baseline to start with. In other words, we have to know how many non-paid visitors you are getting before
we do our work, so that we can compare the number of non-paid visitors you are getting after
we have completed our work. Obviously, this baseline has to be established before we start the optimization process so that both we and our customers know exactly what needs to be achieved – it becomes measurable and quantifiable.
Therefore, one of the requirements in our user agreement is that the customer sends us log files (just emailing us a Google Analytics report is fine). In fact, every new customer is aware of this requirement because it is in the document that is signed. Check out what our agreement says (we wrote it so that it’s in plain English, rather than “lawyer-speak”):
In order to establish a baseline for evaluation of this guarantee, User must provide proof of traffic to the Company prior to the commencement of site work by the Company. Proof of traffic is based on log files from User’s existing site. To comply with this requirement, User may provide the Company with Google analytics for “non-paid traffic only” for the previous 12 months. This reporting must be given to the Company in such a way that shows individual reports for each month in the previous 12-month period. The User's failure to provide log files prior to commencement of work by Company voids the guarantee and refund policy. The User must have email confirmation from the Company as proof of receipt of log files and it is the sole responsibility of User to provide log files and obtain confirmation of receipt from Company.
This requirement isn’t just in there for our protection – it goes both ways:
- It protects us as a company. A customer that may find himself in a tough spot could benefit from our services and then claim that we didn’t double their natural traffic, and without any baseline traffic reports, we could not prove otherwise. Not fair, right? We have to know what we’re competing against, right?
- It protects our customers. When both parties know what the original traffic was, we can’t claim to have doubled that natural traffic unless the numbers show that fact. Otherwise it wouldn’t be fair to our customers.
Before we begin any work, the customer must read and sign the user agreement. This is true for all of our customers, whether they be a roofer, remodeler, doctor, lawyer or any other type of business owner. Same rules apply to everyone.
Our fisherman client read the user agreement and signed it. However, even though he agreed to do so, he never provided us with any traffic reports. Then, a year later, he came back and asked for a refund, claiming that we did not double his traffic. We fulfilled our end of the agreement, he did not fulfill what he agreed to do, and yet he wants a full refund. Come on – that’s just not playing fair.
Again, the Better Business Bureau got involved and looked impartially at the evidence in this situation. As with the first case, they determined that there was no case here. This case was also administratively closed by the BBB.
Obviously, we want our customers to be happy. We’re just people running a company, and providing a valuable service to business owners nationwide (we even have some customers outside the US). We acknowledge that we are not perfect, and we do make mistakes from time to time; we’re human.
Do you know of any company that has a track record like ours? We’ve had 3 customers that have been really vocal with their displeasure. In addition, there were 3 others that we did refund, because we didn’t meet our guarantee. When we mess up, we do our best to correct the situation. (In each of those refund cases, we optimized the site but did not add new content; we learned from those early mistakes, and now include professionally-written content for every client.)
Think about it – if you search the “ripoff” sites, you will find complaints on lots of well-known and well-respected businesses. Does that mean they are all run by mean and nasty people? Of course not. We think we are in pretty good company!
We will continue to treat our customers in a fair, equitable manner, just like we would want to be treated. We feel that we provide our customers with a valuable service at a very fair price, and have many clients that will verify that. After you have experienced the benefits of the service we offer, we think you will feel the same way.