/ Shopping, Technology

Scam watch: Google Maps listing scam

Keep up to date and avoid signing up to contracts with cold callers. Here’s how one business owner was asked to pay to remain listed on Google Maps…

John Dyer told us: I received a cold call from a business claiming to be part of Google Maps, telling me that my company’s listing was due for renewal.

The caller said it is now a chargeable service for businesses and that they would delete my entry if I didn’t pay the fee.

I agreed and was passed over to their line manager, who took me through a recorded verbal 12-month rolling contract and said an invoice would be due in 14 days.

The next day I received an invoice that looked rather unprofessional. At this point, I started to smell a rat, so went online and saw many complaints of similar scams. From the 14th day onwards, I have been receiving daily demanding phone calls. I’ve reported the company to trading standards, which seems to be well aware of these activities and told me not to pay anything.

Our say on cold calling scams

We say: A seller pretending to be another company and carrying out practices such as these may be guilty of a criminal offence. To be an offence, the seller’s commercial practice must involve a misleading action or omission, or an aggressive practice.

A misleading action could be the seller providing false information about which company they are calling on behalf of. A misleading omission could be hiding the fact that you can cancel the telephone contract (up until the 14th day after the day on which the contract is agreed). An aggressive practice could be persistent phone calls persuading you to pay up under the telephone contract where you otherwise wouldn’t have done so. In this instance, you were right to contact trading standards.

Have you been a victim of this scam or a similar one? Do you have any tips for spotting one of these cold call scams?

Comments
Jude Kenney says:
25 February 2019

This is still going on, we’ve just been drawn in this month. Without permission they have published a page about our business with some information off our website and other bits that they’ve made up. I’ve emailed 3 times to ask them to take it down without response. I’ve now contacted google to try to get control of the page and I hope I don’t get the invoices referred to in this thread.

If you get any invoices just ignore which is what we did, it has been going on for us since last summer, they are a pain, just don’t get into any conversation with them and block any numbers

Guy Hepworth says:
5 March 2019

I have had the same problem with Search Point UK. after many, many speculative calls from them, I agreed over the phone to receive some stuff by post to look at last summer about them managing My Google Business listing – and shortly after that received an invoice.
Since then they have been plaguing me to make the payment. They say they have a recording of me agreeing to their service and also say that they have sent the recording to me twice now but I have never had any. I have told them that I have not signed anything, paper or online, and they say that a verbal agreement is binding for a business to business arrangement.
I am at my wits end with these people – my business is only small, having some problems and I even said last Christmas that there was a real possibility of me becoming homeless, (which is true), but they STILL said I had to make payment! Is there some legal recourse I can take against this company? Please help.

Dan says:
6 March 2019

Hello
I saw your comment in regards to your current situations and I want to share with you that your not alone. Im having the same issue atm and its very similar to yours so I will be praying for you. Please take heart and be encouraged as I was in distress then I remembered what the bible says – “God is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”. Seek and you shall find him.

Hi Guy – I’m interested in looking into this further. Would you – and anyone else who’s had an experience like this – please email case.study@which.co.uk?

Thanks,
Amelia

Dudleypooch says:
7 March 2019

Please don’t pay them, they did the same to us and tried intimidating us by threatening court action which has never happened, if the phone rings and it’s them we either put the phone down and say nothing or block their number

Panos says:
19 March 2019

Report them to Google, here:

https://support.google.com/business/contact/gmb_3p_complaints

Then request a Termination of End Customer relationship and they legally have to allow you to disassociate your company from them within 7 days. They are also legally obliged to give you exclusive control of your listing.

Their practice is not to use any written contracts or agreements, but thankfully Google are aware of these practices where scam artists try to use legal loopholes and intimidate people – a recorded conversation is NOT sufficient if there is a conflict according to Google:

https://support.google.com/business/answer/7353941

Termination of end customer relationship

“Your end customer must be given a quick and easy way to stop using your service to manage their Google My Business account(s). Within seven (7) business days of receiving notice from an end customer, you must provide that client the ability to disassociate their Google My Business account from your services and regain exclusive control of their Google My Business account(s). If you had permission to manage or otherwise change the end customer’s account, you must also relinquish and remove those permissions accordingly.”

Prohibited practices

Claiming a business without consent:
“You can claim and manage a business listing only if you obtained the business owner’s express consent as required by the applicable law (written consent or implying a form of positive action like checking a box in a form). Verbal consent isn’t sufficient if there is a conflict between the third party and the merchant. Don’t pre-emptively claim a listing to encourage, persuade or force a business to become a customer.”

Mr C J Waters says:
9 April 2019

This company has sent me invoices, letters. untold telephone calls. I have informed them that they are without a single doubt scammers and they will NOT receive a single penny from me. But they phone time and time again.

David Willett says:
28 June 2019

Similar sequence. Cold call { illegal to a TPS registered number} from Map Registrations. Told me Google My Business was now a paid for service and they were operating it. Naively I authorised them to run my account..
I refused to pay their invoice quoting their illegal cold call and false claim regarding what was a free service but have had continued harassment by phone and now a ” Letter before Action” threatening legal proceedings. They now call themselves Search Point UK

Just to make people aware, if any of you have given card details over the phone they keep the whole recording of your card details including the three digit security code which as I understand they are not supposed to, the security number should not be recorded or it should be inaudible for security purposes, just to be on the safe side we have now cancelled our card

Mat Dixon says:
22 May 2019

Im also getting at least two calls a day and have had final demand letters for something ive not agreed to….
Im a small business that did originally pay for the service for one year that they offer but to find them not great at the job and then harassing me to now pay for something i dont want…… Any tips on how to get rid?

Hi Mat
Just ignore them there is nothing they can do, we started getting calls again told them we didn’t owe them money and put the phone down and at the moment they have stopped phone but no doubt they will start again soon and we will say the same again, if you can put up with the phone calls that’s as bad as it will get, just don’t engage in conversation

graham powell says:
25 July 2019

i was called in june 2019 to renew my contract with search point uk for another year, although the end date was 6th august. The caller checked business details, stated the details of the webb pages and asked how i would be paying, and said she would send me details by email. I then received an invoice dated 26th june for ÂŁ 299.00 I returned this with a letter stating that I had not agreed to renew. since then I have had phone calls every day by different operators and stated that I did not wish to renew, but was told that I had agreed verbally over the phone, but as a good will gesture, if I paid that day I would have a discount of ÂŁ 100.
Now I was threatened with the small claims court.

Jayne Burnett says:
15 October 2019

I was recently aware that the google entry for our charity had changed suddenly to ‘permanently closed’ … a few months later I get a call from Search Point telling me that they are phoning to update my entry – their phone practices are dodgy – they wanted my details before they would tell me any info. they pressed and pressed to find out if I was responsible for making decisions. They finally admitted that they would give me a 30 day trial then charge me to remain updated but would give me stats about the traffic to my site.
I hung up. These people probably altered our entry to ‘permanently closed’ in the first place.

Keith Harding says:
18 November 2019

The company have sent me a invoice for ÂŁ178.80 look like they are now Search Point LTD but the invoice is in the name off Search point UK not going to pay told them as sad they were from Google I Be happy to go to court complete Scam as the services is free from google have reported them to Google sould have control back soon off my listing