Note: I’ve edited this and corrected the url. Apologies to mylocal.com which is still undergoing site changes.
This posting is for PR folks and others responsible for advertising.
I got a call yesterday from a sales rep selling listings on www.local.com. The woman, who had a heavy accent, read from a script and couldn’t veer from it, which always makes me suspicious. I asked for the site address, which she gave me. I visited it while I answered more questions.
The first red flag popped up when she said I needed to give her the last four digits of my social security number or my birth date. This was for my personal security code to get on the page, or whatever. . . .
“You need this for what?”
She read the script again. I played along and gave her my birth date, day and month.
When she finished she said she had to put her supervisor on.
The big red flag rose. It’s happened to me before.
The first time was a few decades ago when I was out of work and my wife was pregnant. I answered an ad, found myself in a seedy motel conference room with an equally seedy guy telling all of us down-and-out suckers how we could make a million dollars selling fire alarms. All we had to do was get into a family’s home and show a video of a fire that killed the family’s children.
Then Diamond Jim walked out wearing a thousand dollar suit, rings polished to glint in the overhead lights and movie star white teeth. He told us that he had a yacht, a sports car and took vacations around the world and we could too. All we had to do was sell fire alarms (playing to the most elemental fear of all parents) and move up in the organization.
Capitalism at its most brutish.
Back to www.local.com The second woman, the supervisor, asked me more questions and mentioned in passing that we would get a free 30 day listing in a prominent spot on the page. If we didn’t contact them within the 30-day grace period we’d be added to their site for $49.95 a month.
I stopped her there and said I wasn’t trying anything that automatically subscribes me if I don’t contact them. I also told her I thought the site was shallow and of not much use.
And I hung up.
I sent a warning message to our town chamber members to give them a heads up.
http://www.local.com models itself after Yellowbook. I suppose it’s legit but it’s of little use to local or regional advertisers unless I’m missing something in the bigger picture. You get your phone number and address listed for $50 a month on a site that offers nothing else but the weather. That’s it.
I’m wary of this one. If you’re not responsible for advertising, pass this on to the folks who are.