If you're a business that is.
For those of you who live in or near a metropolitan area are probably familiar with citysearch
Let me begin by saying that I've spent many years using citysearch and find them to be an amazing resource for tracking down addresses and phone numbers of businesses within the NYC area. I found my vet on citysearch. I discovered many a restaurant on citysearch and usually find the reviews reasonably and trustworthy. I use New York Citysearch but they have them for many cities around the globe.
So why in the world would I second guess using them to advertise for myself (quick plug here check my website www.danielkrieger.com)
I signed up for their advertising program and had an account manager contact me to tweak what would become my own personal citysearch page.
First off - He insisted on me creating a minimum amount of advertising dollars at $200 a month which was WAY more than I was willing to spend. I reluctantly agreed and said I would give it a shot for one month and then see how much traffic and contacts I got through them. I expected a hard sell though and he won me over.
Second off - He had me send him a few photographs to put on my home page. I did that and had asked for him to email me the link when my site was up.
Third off - I bought some beautiful fresh mozzarella last night and some homemade soppressata from Caputo's on Court Street last night. I dined on that with some grilled vegetables and a ciabatta roll. So good.
So here I am waiting to hear back from this "Guy" about my webpage. I'm doing searches on citysearch and cannot find "Daniel Krieger" or "Daniel Krieger Photography" anywhere on citysearch. I start calling/emailing my account manager and when he finally gets back to me after having been on vacation for a few days, says they didn't have an address for my business because I'm a photographer without a brick and mortar store. I tell him to use my home address and he says "Fine that will work and your page will be up in a few days." Great I think.
A week goes by and nothing. Finally I get through to him and he asks me to resend the photos so we can get this page up. I guess he had deleted my original email or whatever. Fine I say, and email him the photos again.
While this was all going on I had verbally let him know that I don't want to be charged for anything without actually seeing a webpage. Sure Sure he tells me.
A month has gone by and I have no evidence that I have my own advertisement up on citysearch.
I get a bill for $200 on my credit card and call my account manager guy..who is incidentally named "Guy"
I tell him take that charge away or I'm going to be pissed. Sure Sure he says he will get rid of that charge and get my account squared away and up and running. He is surprised it hasn't been fixed yet...as am I.
I let him know again that I do not want to see another charge until I have a page up..I don't want any billing to be occurring now. I don't want another charge whatsoever until everything was taken care of. I was pretty clear and pretty repetitive. Again he reassures me everything would be ok and TOLD ME that I would receive a refund for that original charge of $200
Now citysearch is a HUGE website with an enormous amount of traffic.. This must be a multimillion dollar company by now with thousands upon thousands of clients. I never once thought anything shady would happen. Boy OY Boy was I wrong.
Another few weeks went by and still NOTHING. NO webpage NO contact NO emails NO telephone calls.
I finally start having my emails bounce back to me.
Then I get a call from some young guy who says he's my new account manager. I laugh and basically tell him that I don't want any charges on my account anymore and I want any charge already given to me removed. I double check that my account is not being currently charged and he tells me it is. He tells me that there isn't going to be any refunds..sorry he says
He also tells me that my previous account manager went on to, and I quote, "Bigger and Better things." Now I didn't know what that meant..I naturally assumed he was being serious and that Guy was just in a higher position at citysearch..not that he actually left the company.
I swear I felt like I was dealing with a shady New York City online camera store.
It took me about 30 telephone calls and several more weeks of leaving messages for managers and supervisors before I finally reached one man who was courteous and understand and did a good job of helping me.. He never outright said this, but led me to believe that there was a reason Guy was no longer with the company because of issues like the one I was currently dealing with.
All in all I was charged over $400 and just today found out that half of that is being refunded. The other $200 was basically charged to me because my name and my website was active among "rotating advertisements that don't actually have their own web pages" so people were supposedly clicking on them and supposedly going to my website but I couldn't actually see that Daniel Krieger Photography existed on citysearch. I still think that this is a total crock full of shit. I also NEVER signed on to have my website and name be rotated. I thought I was signing up for a citysearch ad like everyone else on citysearch seems to have.
And the biggest kicker is that out of these "two month of advertising" on citysearch..equaling what they said was $400 worth of my money ($200 which they actually are getting to keep) I did not receive ONE SINGLE INQUIRY from a client who said they clicked on me through citysearch.com
I contemplated calling my credit card company and telling them that fraud had occurred.. one of the problems though is most of my conversations with this shade-meister Guy dude took place over the phone. I only have one email where he says "Yes we will get your page up soon" and one I sent to him asking about my refund and explicitly stating I don't want ANY OTHER CHARGES UNTIL I SEE MY WEBPAGE UP. But who is to say that he agreed with that? He didn't write me an email with anything he could be held accountable for..I mean he wasn't an idiot. He was a crafty schizter.
All in all I think citysearch is a total sham for businesses but the thing is I don't think any of them realize it. I'm sure most businesses spend hundreds if not thousands a month advertising with citysearch..how much business they actually get from it I don't know..I'm sure it does help them and like I originally wrote, I use citysearch all the time on my own and probably will continue using it. I just feel like a lot of the actual business's who pay to put themselves on citysearch don't know the ride they might be getting. Cause I feel I was used like a hydrant in a dog park.
I do not trust them, plain and simple. I don't plan on using them to advertise ever again. I will take google ads (30 bucks a month I set my account to and I've gotten 10x more hits and responses than my shizty citysearch deal) and good old craigslist (which is wonderful and best of all free) as I move forward into the future. The manager I ended my citysearch ordeal with promised to set me up with a good manager who would properly handle my account and it may have worked out fine, but I'm just too soured on them to do that. So the story ends here, for now.
UPDATE: Situation was resolved.. you can read about it in my post HERE