Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wild, Wild Web: Shoot Out at the Online Corral

Is this new? A business-to-business hate site created by an unhappy business customer.

Not returning a disgruntled and unhappy customer's calls? It could land your company in the deepest Web doggy do, the kind that makes you beg and pray that prospects and customers won't look for you online because they might find a site claiming your company sucks big time.

You've probably seen consumer sites like WalMart Blows, which is one of the top hate sites according to Forbes.com.

These sites seem to be run by consumers or individual activists.

Now in a new twist, a business customer of a communications firm has created a new sucks site that cuts its provider up in to tiny little pieces with a commentary that must really, really hurt.

ChristieCommunicationsSucks has been created by CleanAirGardening, a well-known and respected green gardening company featured in Better Homes and Gardens.

CleanAirGardening does an expert knife job on Christie Communications.


OK Corral print by Randall Street

Unlike many of the overblown hate sites launched by consumers, the content is fairly restrained and well argued. It dispels skepticism by tackling reservations such as "Do you think I'm exaggerating?" or "Maybe you're thinking misspelled word. Who cares?" that a potential client of Christie's may have when they land at the hate site.

Lars Hundley, the president of CleanAirGardening, doesn't overstate his case. He is not shrill. He loads the site with examples of Christie's work as if to say to readers, "You be the judge."

"Perhaps you are doing a search for Christie Communications or Gillian Christie right now because you are considering hiring that company as your PR and marketing company. Before you hire them, I recommend that you read my story to decide if that's really a good idea," Lars says.

"Along with my story, I am including actual examples of work that Christie Communications did for me below, so that you can decide for yourself how awful their work really is. You won't find any of this work in the portfolio on their web site!"

The grievance? Hundley claims shoddy work, spelling mistakes and factual errors in a press release and a failure to deliver what was promised. He is $12,500 out of pocket and wants his money back.

The dispute turned nasty when execs at Christie's started dodging Hundley's calls and messages.
How long would a small company last if unhappy buyers with big names, big resources and the power to sustain a campaign against you decided to strike back? Not long these days.

Can you imagine if Wal-Mart harpooned a supplier like this? Or if Grainger Industrial launched Web sites identifying accounts that never paid on time?

What's going to cost your company more? Lost sales from this sort of site or providing the customer with a 100% refund?

It is shoot out at the online corral. The wild wild Web.

Comments welcome. But please restrict them to the general issues of hate sites, how to avoid this sort of thing happening and this trend in general, rather than the rights and wrongs of this particular case. I don't want to go there!

Print comes from Randall Street.

Posted by Internet Marketing Report Online editor Julie Power Wednesday October 1.


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6 comments:

DJ said...

In one way, I'm surprised - B2B is a usually more sedate and there's a lot less attention. But on the other side, if they did shoddy work, don't they deserve to be outed?

I think the site is really well-written. Every time I'd start to think "Well, did you do this...?" he would have a response.

I don't know the founder of the site or his target. But I will be watching the SERPs that come about afterwards.

Thanks!

JuliS said...

After reading Lars' enitre post, I don't find anything "hateful" in his recantation of the events or business transaction. Christie Communications was clearly at fault, as evidenced by the flier CC developed as well as the press release sent without client approval (if it was sent at all, which after everything else that haooened I would doubt).

I agreee with the premise of the article, howevcer, as far as the harm one can do to one's own reputation by posting or promoting nasty attacks on other businesses.

What comes thru in the post from Lars at CleanAirGardening is not anger, but frustration at having poured $12,500 into a PR/advertising venture that essentially turned out to be a scam. I appluad him for doing what he can to warn other businesses about Christie so they don't make the same mistake.

He willfully entered into an agreement with Christie, expecting her to fulfill her end of it just as he fulfilled his by paying her; she failed to carry out her obligation. I'll bet that Christie's mother is either quite alive and well, or passed away a long tieme before this ever happened.

IMR editor said...

Please don't think I was saying he was "hateful." Many people say hate sites to describe this sort of Web site, i.e, Xcompanysucks.com.
Thanks for your comment. As I said, I really don't want to get into the pros and cons of the individual case but was commenting on this as an emerging trend on the Internet. I am going to post soon about something else like this.

Anonymous said...

GILLIAN CHRISTIE
founder & CEO

“My passion is to improve societal conditions by helping ethical entrepreneurs and companies forward their messages and accomplish their goals.”


Wow, if you put words like that on your website, I'd say you better live up to them!

Anonymous said...

and maybe this says something about wisdom of doing business with Scientologists!

Ronald J Riley said...

GILLIAN CHRISTIE founder & CEO says:

“My passion is to improve societal conditions by helping ethical entrepreneurs and companies forward their messages and accomplish their goals.”

And I say that talk is cheep and when someone pays a service provider they expect fair value and quality work delivered in a timely manner.

CleanAirGardening is to be commended for creating www.ChristieCommunicationsSucks.com. I am passing this on to the community of inventor-entrepreneurs.

There are some very good PR people but there are also some real duds who put lots of effort into selling themselves and little effort into actually performing.

Ronald J. Riley,


Speaking only on my own behalf.
Affiliations:
President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
Senior Fellow - www.patentPolicy.org
President - Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Washington, DC
Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.