We operate a telemarketing company that has been in business for 8 years. I rarely complain about another company, unless I have very good reason and I always try and work out my concerns with people before making a formal complaint like this. In fact, I hesitated a long time before making this complaint becuase I felt threatened by VendorSeek, who provided leads we really benefited from at one point and we want to keep receiving the high quality leads they used to provide. I finally decided that regardless of VendorSeek's threats to stop providing us with leads, I had to let other companies know what was going on so that what happened to us doesn't happen to other companies.
For the past several years we have been spending tens of thousands of dollars year purchasing leads from VendorSeek. These leads used to be very high quality and we were very happy with the services and leads we were receiving from VendorSeek. However, in the past few months things have changed drastically.
We are not sure how long it took us to notice what was going on, but it could have taken awhile since we have several sales representatives following up on these leads. It was not until I (the owner of our company) became very involved in following up with the leads that we noticed something was very wrong. I must say we also receive leads from other lead sources and they are very high in quality, we are not having any issues with the other companies we buy leads from.
We pay approximately $18 per lead we receive from VendorSeek. When we started out, we were under the assumption that these were leads from people who wanted to receive telemarketing services and these people went to VendorSeek and signed up to receive up to 5 quotes from qualified Vendors. For the first few years that we worked with VendorSeek, we were getting great leads all of whom were legitimately seeking telemarketing services. Then this year, things changed. We started hearing the same things from people over and over again. Some examples of the things we were hearing them say were:
"I don't know where you got my number, I am not looking for telemarketing services"
"I just signed up for a free trial on Manta.com and after I signed up for the free trial I got inundated with calls from vendors who were under the assumption that I wanted their services"
"Someone sent you information on my behalf and I never wanted your services" etc.
After receiving these responses frequently over the past few months (especially the Manta response) we conducted an internal investigation of leads provided to us this year by VendorSeek and have come to the finding that the leads are not the same types of leads that were previously being sold to us by VendorSeek. Previously, we were not hearing these types of responses and we do not hear these types of responses from any other vendors we work with.
Here is what is happening-- and anyone out there can easily investigate this on their own. People are visiting a website called Manta.com. Manta provides market information on other companies. You can sign up or register with this company to receive information from them about market data on other companies. When you sign up or "register" you are asked to fill out your name and email address. Then you directed to a second page which is actually a VendorSeek form. This form has boxes you can check to receive information about other services. It is misleading becuase people need to click on some boxes to move to the final page to receive the information they wanted from Manta. This page is a part of the Manta registration process and there is no way around it. So people randomly just check a few (or quite a few) boxes, not really wanting the services but feeling like they need to check boxes to get the information from Manta and complete the registration process. Then they click submit to complete the registration process for Manta. The form on the previous page is then sent to VendorSeek. They get a call from a VendorSeek representative and supposedly the representative is "verifying" that they want the information from the boxes they are checking. What we have found is that often times they are confused and have no idea why the VendorSeek rep is calling and often say that no they don't really want this information or that they did not mean to fill the form out. Maybe they were looking for some information in the future etc and may say this. It seems that regardless of what they tell the VS rep, the lead is then getting forwarded to the VendorSeek Vendors in ALL of the categories for which they checked the boxes. So the result is that these poor people are getting completely inundated with telephone calls from all types of different vendors. Keep in mind, if they check 5 boxes they can recieve 25 calls, 5 from each category from VendorSeek. VendorSeek makes a killing on this becuase then they charge their vedors $18 per lead 25 different times from just one Manta form. These people never went to Manta looking for services from these vendors, they just wanted market data on another company and got caught in the process. In our investigation, we learned that some of the people who have filled out the Manta form have actually been fired from their jobs for causing so many vendors to call in and disrupt the business at that company. We also found some businesses that are considering changing their phone numbers from all of the calls they are receiving, and many many people are very upset with what has happened. We talked with some very irate people-- many people who clearly told us they never wanted telemarketing services and were very clear about this when the VendorSeek representative called to "verify" the lead.
When we brought this issue to the attention of the powers that be at VendorSeek, including Mark Berg and Ken Wiesnifski and they have completely dismissed our findings. They have dismissed us by telling us that " maybe this service isn't working for you" and by saying "the leads you called did not mean that they did not want services, they meant they already got another quote". What a patronizing and unprofessional response! We are a telemarketing company-- we understand what a good lead is! We know what they meant when they told us they did not ever want telemarketing serivces. We have every record of this verified in our crm and can provide names and company names for so many of these it is unbelieveable. Even when VendorSeek does call to verify leads, they are still sending leads to their clients (like us) even when the verification caller is told that the person never wanted these services. Then we are expected to pay for this lead. If we try to return the lead, VendorSeek rejects the return.
We have tried to be reasonable and speak with the Manager and Owner of the company about this, but they won't even look at our findings. We can provide documented evidence, with names and phone numbers and people who are willing to share their expereinces and frustrations with the owners of VendorSeek so they can correct the issue. However, VendorSeek refuses to look at this evidence. They refuse to credit us for these leads. We even offered to conduct a full investigation of this for them for free because at first I thought that perhaps it was just one VendorSeek employee dishonestly sending leads to vendors becuase they worked on a commission basis per lead sent, so I thought that VendorSeek would want to know if one of their employees was being dishonest and correct the situation, but VendorSeek never took us up on our offer to quality check these leads for free. I emailed and called the owners and they never called back. After weeks of calling and emailing I finally got an email from Mark Berg stating that he has explained the lead verification process to me over and over and that there was nothing he could do and that they would not be sending us any more leads. He would not look at all of the evidence and proof we compiled showing that the leads they sent us were not qualified and did not want telemarketing serivces and were in fact very angry with VendorSeek. I would be angry too if I was receiving the amout of calls from Vendors that these people all say they are receiving--it is very annoying.
I can only come to the assumption here that VendorSeek knows that they are providing unqualified leads to their vendors and that they are just trying to make as much money as possible by operating this way and will charge their clients as much as they can regarless of lead quality. They know they have been caught doing something unethical here and are just trying to escape dealing with a long term customer who has decided to question this practice. If someone checks the box on Manta, the vendor who's box is check basically receives that lead, often times this is happening regardless of whether they really wanted that service in the first place and even when they specifically tell the VendorSeek verifier that the DO NOT want that service.
If you are considering using VendorSeek, go to Manta.com, fill out the registration form, check a few boxes and see what happens. But you may want to change your number afterwards.