Like many others here I also bought into the Storesonline rip-off after attending one of their workshops on 14th June 2004 at the Lowry Hotel in Manchester, UK, but it's only after signing up that you realise just how much of a rip-off it really is. It has to be said that their sales pitch is very slick and convincing, and their sales people relentless in getting you to sign up.
These workshops turn out to be nothing more than a day long high-pressure sales pitch, where sales tactics such as introducing the product at a higher price and then reducing it to make it seem like a bargain, and "the offer is only good for today" are used. Actually, the latter turns out to be true, as Storesonline do not sell their products and services to the public anywhere else apart from at these workshops. Entrance to the workshops is effectively by invitation only.
Content of the slick workshop presentation does contain some useful and relevant Internet marketing tips and tools, though none of these are at all unique to Storesonline, and can be found for free elsewhere on the Internet. Parts of the presentation though are outright lies, or misleading and deceptive statements made in order to get the sale at the end of the day. Rather than offering a single e-commerce web site package, Storesonline insist you will be better off purchasing a package of three or six sites, which they offer at the "bargain" price of close to 2000 for three sites, and 4000 for six sites in the UK. Equivalent prices in local currencies are charged in other territories.
Sales made at these workshops are the company's only source of income. There are actually secondary income streams, however these come from products and services that are only offered and sold to existing customers i.e. those that purchased at one of the workshops - if they don't make the primary income sale at the workshop, the secondary income streams will not be available to them either.
It's implied at the workshop that Storesonline will build your e-commerce web site for you, but in reality what you have purchased is a license to use their online site building software and have to do this for yourself. At the workshops, Storesonline state that no experience or knowledge of computers or the Internet is required for you to have a successful e-commerce site using their products and services.
The software itself is confusing and certainly not as "easy to use" as they state at the workshop, and is in my opinion decidedly 3rd rate software. The e-commerce web sites produced by this software are equally 3rd rate, dated, poorly designed and coded, and not well optimised for Internet search engines, something which is critical if you want a successful e-commerce site, as they told everyone at the workshop.
It should be noted that at no point during the workshop presentation is their site building software shown or demonstrated, neither are any e-commerce sites built using said software shown or demonstrated. Two sites frequently used as examples during the workshops are not built using Storesonline site building software - they may have been once upon a time, but in their current form as shown at the workshop they are not.
E-commerce sites built using Storesonline software and hosted with them on their servers are amongst the slowest loading sites I've ever experienced on the Internet - again this is not something you want for a successful site. Storesonline do say you are under no obligation to host your site with them, however to use an alternative web hosting service would require you to lose access to the site building software and associated features which are also hosted on their servers, and which you've already paid for. Effectively, you are tied to their proprietary systems unless you want to completely re-build your site and host it elsewhere at your own additional cost.
There are also aspects of the ideas and methods presented and recommended at the workshop that just do not work in the UK. These ideas and methods may very well be feasible and work well in the USA, but they don't in the UK and some other countries in which they operate. It seems that they present exactly the same US-centric information wherever they go, and make no attempt to adjust it at all to suit any market differences that may exist in different countries.
Outside of the USA, Storesonline have no local offices in any of the countries in which they operate. All communications must go through their registered offices in Orem, Utah, USA, which makes it very easy for them to ignore your emails or phone calls should they choose to do so - they tend to do this a lot, especially if any form of complaint is involved. They provide a free of charge 800 number for calls made in the USA, but this doesn't apply for calls from outside the USA where callers will be charged international call rates. Time zone differences would also need to be taken into consideration for international callers.
In my opinion and experience Storesonline is one of the most deceptive and unethical company's I've ever encountered. Their products and services are decidedly 3rd rate, and certainly not worth what they charge for them. Avoid this company at all costs.
The main reason for posting this report now is to warn others that Storesonline are currently back in the UK. Known dates and events are included below:
Forthcoming Storesonline events in the UK
Sat 03/12/2005 9.00 am - 90 min preview event - Lowry Hotel, Salford
Tue 13/12/2005 8.30 am - 6.00 pm - All day workshop event - Newcastle-Upon-Tyne - exact venue unknown for this event, though typically Storesonline use hotels near the city centre to host these events
Thu 15/12/2005 8.30 am - 6.00 pm - All day workshop event - Jarvis Piccadilly Hotel, Portland Street, Manchester
Fri 16/12/2005 8.30 am - 6.00 pm - All day workshop event - Old Trafford Football Stadium, Sir Matt Busby Way, Manchester
I have reported the events listed above to local Trading Standards offices and to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in the UK, though I don't know what they'll be able to do with the information provided.
I know not many people who have posted reports here will believe Storesonline/Imergent have any ethics at all, but Imergent have a published Code of Business Conduct and Ethics applicable to all employees, directors and other representatives of the company. You can find this document on their web site here:
For anyone seeking a refund from Storesonline, I'd think there are perhaps a few paragraphs in there that could be turned around and thrown back at them.
United Kingdom Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Storesonline