Last week was a strange week for us. We finally got it together and got our Google Business presence verified. If you are a small business, I urge you to do this. You simply go to Google.com/business and will be directed to fill out some preliminary information. You will need to verify that you are actually the owner of your business. To do this, you may need to wait a few days for a postcard to be mailed to you that will have a code on it. Then you will need to enter a code into a certain spot on the Google.com/business site, and then your business will be listed on Google. Supposedly, some businesses do not have to go through the postcard route and can get texted the code to their phone, but we didn’t have that option and had to wait for the postcard. In any case, we are now listed on Google as a business. This helps us on our local SEO, which should hopefully help local clients find us a little easier. If you are a home based business, like we currently are, there is a place that you can check that you will come to visit your clients and a certain mile radius that you will travel. If you do not want clients coming to your home or your address to be listed on Google, pay close attention to this section of the form so that you do not inadvertently list your residence.
We listed our business on Google on Monday, and immediately on Tuesday, we had a major contact through our site that seemed very promising. Yay! This sounded great! Or did it? Was it too good to be true?
Well, we should have known something was up when the first thing the guy wanted to know was if we took credit cards.
The next big flag was that he didn’t answer a couple of key questions that we asked in our first contact with him. We wanted to know how he had heard about us. That seemed like a fair question. We are new, and we figured someone had referred him to us. If he had indeed found us through Google, that would have been fine, but we would have liked to have known that too. We also wanted to know if he was in the Atlanta area, because we like to sit down and do a face to face and get to know our potential clients.
He did not answer those questions, and he did not fill out our client questionnaire. He just had a list of things that he wanted done.
OK, so he was a little different, and he didn’t follow directions very well. He had a nice budget, so that was promising.
Again, we asked where he was located. He still did not answer. He again insisted upon a quote and a four week timeline for a rather giant project.
Michelle began drawing up the proposal and let him know it would be Friday before he would have the proposal. On Wednesday he started demanding the quote. As an aside, I was on a short trip to the beach, so Michelle was dealing with this stuff, but I was keeping in touch via email and phone while it was going on. When he sent a second pushy email demanding a quote on Wednesday, I sent him an email telling him basically to chill out, he’d get his quote on Friday like we said, and that he needed to do things on our timeline like we told him.
Well, Friday rolled around. I returned from my trip. I realized the guy hadn’t given us an address, a phone number, nothing. So I sent him another email and told him we would not give him a quote until we had those details. We also would need to have a phone conversation with him before we would give him a proposal because we were worried about the scope of the project. Michelle meanwhile did an IP address search on him and found out that he is in California.
He emailed us back with an address in San Jose, a business name, and a phone number. Michelle, Teddy and I called the guy while we were in her car and we got a Google voice number. He finally answered the phone and the call was unintelligible. We ended up hanging up and trying again. He answered, and we still couldn’t understand him. We decided then and there that this is not going to work. Michelle sent him an email basically saying that communication is not working between us, and we are not going to give him a quote. He then called Michelle back and had a decent conversation and agreed to an eight week timeline. We agreed that we could send him a proposal with that change.
After emailing him the quote, he immediately signs it and emails it back with a bunch of craziness that is basically a scam in which he wants to pay us a bunch of money so that *we* will pay his graphic artist because his graphic artist doesn’t have credit card capability. He will give us a “tip” for doing this. Uh, no. I can see how this plays out. We end up losing thousands of dollars in a completely stupid con.
We are not happy. The con was annoying enough, but drawing up proposals are a lot of work. Losing valuable work time, not to mention getting our hopes up about having some decent cash….UGH. What a jerk.
I knew Wednesday night that something was off with this guy. Within 24 hours of contact with him, something was not right. At least we didn’t do any actual web design for him, but I am sorry that Michelle went through the effort of a proposal. We put a lot of time and thought into these proposals. This was an elaborate con job. At least we did not get conned. We did report it to the FBI, but nothing will become of it. If you are reading this Mr. Con Man, not everyone will fall for your stupid scam! Yet another valuable lesson in owning a business. The main thing I have come away from after this is I am not letting anyone tell me how to run my business. Michelle and I know how we want to do things. We have a way that we want it done, and once it starts feeling bad, we need to walk away from that person. If we say Friday, we mean Friday!!
Oh, and our con man did finally tell us how he found us. Google.