Lavora Google Maps & AdWords Rip-Off: BT Web Clicks Mk.2?

My God, I have just come across a rip-off even worse than BT’s Web Clicks offering (you might not have thought that possible!) I’ve just seen their website offering to list you on Google Maps for a one-off fee of £99. Yes, £99 to spend ten minutes completing a form about your business for a free service from Google!

I was led to their website after a client forwarded me an email from Lavora, offering to advertise their website on AdWords using “5 specific search terms”, for £199 a month with a £20 set-up fee. Sound familiar?

That’s a very similar deal to BT Web Clicks, another fixed-price AdWords service that is just wrong, wrong, wrong for a number of reasons:

  1. Whilst a fixed cost is helpful for budgeting, there is no transparency on what you’re actually paying for, how much it’s costing (because it’s Google who are actually charging for those clicks, not the supplier) and no rollover. So, if you don’t use up your £199 of clicks, you don’t get the remainder carried over to the next month. Hardly good value. You can pretty much guarantee that these suppliers won’t be paying anything like £199 for those clicks either, and I very much doubt that they’ll let the campaign run over budget (well, budget less their profit margin…)
  2. Without the transparency, you won’t get the AdWords account linked to your Analytics either, so measuring raw traffic or campaign performance will be virtually impossible. How do you know it’s worth paying that £199 a month?
  3. You get to choose “5 specific search terms” – what do you think the chances of choosing “mortgages”, “mobile phone contracts”, “car insurance”, “life insurance” and “diamond jewellery” are? There are bound to be a huge amount of qualifiers on these things, assuming you get to make the choice at all. My guess is they will tell you what the “best” keywords are, based on their profit margin, not the volume or quality of traffic.
  4. They claim exclusivity (“we’re only offering this to two businesses like yours in your area”), but of course anyone can use AdWords, so there is absolutely no benefit to that statement.

What really gets my goat about these things is that they are profiteering from people’s ignorance. Morally wrong, but not illegal of course. I really hope nobody reading this has been duped, but having heard a number of stories about BT Web Clicks, I fear the worst…

Follow me on Twitter: @ianlockwood

3 thoughts on “Lavora Google Maps & AdWords Rip-Off: BT Web Clicks Mk.2?

  1. These stories always amaze me. They definitely do take advantage of people just not knowing what to do or how it works and large corporations like BT should know better. But as always profit wins the day.

  2. Lavora Web (now called Answer-IT Group) are fraudolent, they run a scam on cancellation policy wchich leaves their customers with little or no control over charges. Unfortunately my ignorance attracted me to them and their cold callers, almost fell victim of their trap until I found some leverage on them which eventually backed tehm away from me. This is their agenda: making it very hard for you to cancel the agreement and giving you no control over the campaign. They obtain this by:

    1 – Applying a “letter only” cancellation notice policy so that it is difficult for a customer to prove, at a later stage, a cancellation request was sent in the first place.

    2 – Applying a 30 days notice period on cancellation notices so it’s hard to time a cancellation request so that you don’t get charged another month of unwanted service.

    3 – Once you send a cancellation letter, a member of their team will call you saying that rather than cancel the campaign you can “pause” it until when needed again. Then when you send them another letter of cancellation they will tell you your campaign was on pause and not cancelled and that they require 30 days notice so you’ll basically need to pay upfront for another month of unwanted campaign. This will repeat itself in a viciuos circle from which is difficult to permanently get out.

    Basically their tactic is to hold on to a customer as long as they possibly can squeezing out money out of them even when the customer no longer requires the service.

    4 – Their payment charges are not standing orders or direct debit, quite conveniently for them, making it very difficult for you to cancel the transaction before hand, unless you cancel your card (or pretend you’ve lost it) so your credit card company will send you a new card.

    This is how you trap them: When you send the cancellation letter, make sure you send it recorded delivery and keep the receipt containing the tracking number (usually starts with “GB”).

    Keep a copy of the letter on your hard disk (the time stamp on the properties of the file will prove that the letter was not created or modified at a later date).

    Obtain proof of delivery (this will also contain a signature from the Lavora member of staff that in turn collected the letter) from the royal mail online tracking service.

    Let Lavora, or whatever they change their name to, charge you, then report the transaction as fraudolent and send your credit card company all said paperwork and any invoices containing Lavora Web’s trading address (this will also prove that Lavora Web and Answer IT group are the same trading company) and your credit card company SHOULD cover your loss, investigate the matter, and take action against them.

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