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Searching For Local Services on the Internet - The MarketPlace is Surreal and Often Not Real!

We all need local services and most of us prefer just that ~ a local contractor. Local contractors are typically dedicated to their work, the community is more supportive since they understand that win-win ratio is much higher since the local business has real skin in the game. Local contractors will either have or strive for longevity and by extension a more skillful and experienced work force. It’s a matter of survival of the fittest ~ produce or perish. However, the internet has changed the rules of the game.

It used to be that the go to place to find businesses was the Yellow Pages. It worked because you had to sign an annual contract, sign a marketing agreement by a certain date to secure advertising for a year. The advent of the internet changed that and businesses start dotting the commerce-scape overnight like a scourge of acne. I say that because many of these businesses are in fact proxies for other businesses trying to increase market share, non-existent entities existing for nefarious reasons or distant companies trying pitch a tent in a high demand, target rich environment. In the process, the small local guy gets drowned out by a bunch of slimy sea monsters.

So how do you know who you are dealing with? To some extent you don’t. Many contractors operate out of their houses as a storefront is super expensive. There is nothing wrong with that as these guys can keep their prices down and the consumer benefits. But because things are super polarized right now on many fronts, it’s the large predators that like to gobble up everything like pac men. The result is a distorted marketplace, companies that are often just middlemen brokers getting two scoops of ice cream plus their piece of the pie, less motivated businesses earning less with the consumer paying more and the loss of dedication to craft.

One way to attempt to vet these businesses is to look at their advertised address. You can use a popular mapping function such as google maps which displays a clear image of “what’s here” at an address, and you’ll see things that don’t correlate. Let’s try an example:

ServiceMaster.com" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">ServiceMaster.com" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">ServiceMaster.com markets a company that can be found with a search Service Master at 222 Purchase St., Rye, NY 10580 https://search.yahoo.com/search?p=service+master+222+purchase+street%2C+rye+ny+10580&fr=yfp-t&fp=1&toggle=1&cop=mss&ei=UTF-8

The address listed is actually displayed as 222 Purchase St, #A, Rye, NY 10580. You can hit their website link and sure enough it redirects to ServiceMaster.com. Now take a long in a popular mapping function such as Google Maps and low and behold is a teeny strip with a couple of storefronts attached to an apartment building and a clear absence of the Service Master affiliate. Maybe it’s hiding inside the apartment building. But without picking on this particular company, I’ve done this same thing hundreds of times and found that businesses are often nowhere to be found in shopping centers, etc.

One key giveaway to this gaming the internet is the use of a suite number next to a numeric address. Often, these addresses are one level stand-alone structures so these addresses don’t comport with reality. You can also call these businesses and explain that you visited their location and can’t seem to find them and you’ll get excuses such as “well we used to be there”. Maybe, but maybe not. A company like ServiceMaster.com, a large national company, should clean up its listings if that is the case. I’m not accusing them of unequivocally doing anything wrong, but if these large companies on the NYSE with ticker symbol SERV can’t clean up their act, let’s help them.

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That's really helpful, thanks!

Thank you for your advice.  In today's world, we all must be so careful to avoid being "taken to the bank"!

The internet has to be cleaned up and the garbage taken out.

There are also many national companies typically out of area that claim to have a presence in countless communities.  Most are either brokers or serving as proxies for local companies that are trying to garner greater market share under a different company name.  An example is Heavens Best  heavensbest.com .  In Connecticut it appears there website was taken down.  Greenchoicecarpet-" ".com is another example of a company that appear to show many locations in facilities where there is no such suite number.  Listing businesses in real addresses that have leased space but showing either non-existent suite numbers or located on non-existent floors so as to avoid using a legitimate space is another tactic.

These types of faux businesses are starting to rapidly populate the internet and encroach on legitimate competition.  Since these affect all the local businesses from standing a chance at showing up in queries, the local Dept. of Consumer Protection wants to know about them.  Enclose a screenshot of the address to make a more compelling point.

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