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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Federal Suppliers Guide story

This blog's Google Analytics report shows "federal suppliers guide scam" is the second most common keyword search combination this year -- right after "construction marketing." Why?

In the last few weeks, I've noticed a surge in Google keywords inquiries leading to this blog with this word set: "federal suppliers guide scam". Google searchers are directed to this posting from last March, "The Challenge of Negative Press", where I report on the negative publicity consequences Countryside Publishing in Ocala Florida had experienced when it received what I perceive to be an unfair online attack claiming its business is a scam.

Nevertheless, for some reason, since January 1 this year, more than 70 people have Googled the words "federal suppliers guide scam" and most of these have landed straight here (we are second in line in the Google page for this search string.) The graph shows the activity for the keyword combination from January 2008 to present.

I continue to believe that Countryside is providing a legitimate service -- whether the Federal Suppliers Guide is good value and worth purchasing is another question entirely. More important from the context of this blog is the perception their brand has apparently achieved. I'd shudder to think of the cost to my business if several people each day are keying in my product or service's name with "scam" attached.

Intrusive, aggressive, forceful and intensive marketing can generate sales, but to me this is hardly the best way to conduct any business. Sending out untrained canvassers, blindly "dialing for dollars" with telemarketers, blasting strangers with unrequested spam email messages, and other acts of marketing and sales irritation only breed negative perceptions. Do you want to think people consider your legitimate business to be a scam?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

please read this
Then please explain this one.
http://ripoffreport.com/reports/0/420/RipOff0420717.htm
http://www.contractortalk.com/f11/fema-today-48533/

Mark Buckshon said...

Are "ripoff" and "scam" synonymous?

Both are obviously less-than-positive descriptions of any business, but I'm satisfied Countryside Publishing is not a scam -- they will deliver what they explicitly promise (but note I use the word 'explicitly' here deliberately).

Are their products/services good value? That is another issue and you can judge for yourself about the reactions of people who they have done business with. I'm satisfied they are a legitimate business, however.

Dan said...

Ultra-late reply powers... ACTIVATE!

> Are "ripoff" and "scam" synonymous?

http://thesaurus.reference.com/ seems to think so :-).

While it may be possible to find somebody who can present evidence that this company delivers a service of some value in return for its substantial fees, nobody, anywhere, actually seems to have done so.

And if it is the case that this business-promotion service has not actually ever generated even one sale for anybody, then I don't think it's splitting hairs to say that it is, indeed, a scam. Otherwise you're on the side of the apocryphal used-car salesman who never specifically said that the wheels, seats, doors and engine were included in the price.

The Daily WTF didn't exactly bend over backward to find people with nice things to say about the Federal Suppliers Guide; perhaps these people do exist. But I think it should be noted that there's a whole WORLD of technically real, but worthless, "business directories", some of which are a very great deal older than the Internet. See also those "who's who" books that nobody who hasn't paid for a listing has ever heard of, Awards for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence with surprisingly large "processing fees", internationally-renowned poetry digests that don't quite seem to have made it to the Library of Congress, et cetera.

Anonymous said...

I interviewed with this company (GSA 1000 aka FEMA Today aka Countryside Publishing aka Federal Suppliers Guide aka Government Verification LLC)several weeks ago....had an uneasy feeling about the interview and hiring process along with the "managers" conducting the interviews and doing the hiring. Their approach to the entire process was that of the stereotypical apocryphal used car salesman - and I have been a sales professional for years.....Their payroll practices seemed odd as well.....one would have to work for 3 weeks before receiving a check for the first week of work. When I questioned that practice I was told they needed that long to process the payroll - a little strange in this day and age. At any rate, the economy being what it is (I've been unemployed for longer than I care to think about), I accepted the position as a telemarketing rep. My thinking being that I'd better be able to assess the situation and determine if it was a "real" job or a scam once I was actually in the office for a day or two. I was to start today at 8:30am sharp. When I got there...the office was closed.....the phones were disconnected. I called their corporate office and asked for the gentlemen that originally interviewed me and was transferred to the voice mail of someone else.....when I called back and asked about it....I was told that they had not changed his voice mail yet but I was given the correct extension....I then asked about the local New Port Richey office and was asked if I worked there and was looking for my paycheck. I explained that I was to start work today and asked her what happened. She said they were "shut down" but gave no further explanation. I asked if the man that originally interviewed me was still employed there and she told me he was not. Not sure why she didn't communicate that information to me the first time I asked for him but.......I got the impression they were inundated with calls from employees looking for paychecks and possibly even some customers looking for answers.....The bottom line is....my gut instinct was correct. I'm sure the negative publicity is only the tip of the iceberg for what is to come. It should be an interesting story to follow......

Anonymous said...

By the way......they seem to have done a massive amount of hiring since January of this year up through a couple of weeks ago. Perhaps the reason for the upsurge in the keyword search.

Mark Buckshon said...

Readers should note that I have not verified or researched the status of this business for some time.

At the time I wrote the original posting, as I noted, they appeared to be providing the services they claimed to provide but I certainly did not assert that the these services represented good advertising/marketing value to their clients.

If you are asked by any telemarketer to spend money on anything, it makes sense to take a step back and check things out carefully.

Anonymous said...

Is GSA Applications the company that goes by dozens of different names, including: Accessing GSA; Countryside Publishing Company; Federal Suppliers Guide; Federal Verification Co; FEMA Today; GSA 1000; GSA Access Group; GSA Application Services; GSA Dallas; GSA Greenville; GSA Pittsburgh; GSA Preview; GSA Processors; GSA Tampa Bay; Nu Century; Rapid GSA; Tampa Bay GSA; Target GSA?

Is GSA Applications this the same company that’s being investigated by the Florida Attorney General?
http://www.myfloridalegal.com/lit_ec.nsf/investigations/040E2D785AD287EB852577C0006863

Mark Buckshon said...

I haven't the time nor the resources to investigate individual businesses or organizations and generally avoid publishing negative stories about identifiable organizations.

Readers should assess these comments as being written by the anonymous posters and NOT as something I have confirmed. At last check some time ago at the time of the original posting, the business referenced here was indeed, validly in operation.

Once again, however, I advise caution in dealing with any business you don't now which promotes itself through telemarketing. Readers are encouraged to complete their independent research. Remember, a service may be legitimate but not deliver good value to you. Think carefully before you give any caller your credit card information.