Some of us might remember what was printed in the New York Times five years ago, where they profiled an issue that Google had with local results and locksmiths But now, a new story was published this weekend that revolves around the same exact issue.
The story printed this weekend is called Fake Online Locksmiths May Be Out to Pick Your Pocket, Too, and tells about how legitimate local locksmiths have been locked out of the search results because of fake, call-center-based locksmiths that are hacked into Google’s local results.
Basically, it works like this – if you are looking for a local locksmith, your phone call will end up going to a call center, where you are potentially going to be sent a “poorly trained subcontractor” to charge you more money than what you were quoted on the phone. Finally, once the locksmith arrives on the scene of you locked out of your car or house, you’ll find that you will be paying three or four times more than what you were told over the phone.
The goal of lead gens is to wrest as much money as possible from every customer, according to lawsuits. The typical approach is for a phone representative to offer an estimate in the range of $35 to $90. On site, the subcontractor demands three or four times that sum, often claiming that the work was more complicated than expected. Most consumers simply blanch and pay up, in part because they are eager to get into their homes or cars.
It looks like, according to what the New York Times uncovered, these locksmiths are often not based in local area, but they will set up fake locations within Google Maps to trick the algorithm into thinking that that locksmith company is actually local. You can find these companies in all metro areas, but all of the phone calls will usually go to a single center that isn’t located in that metro region.
According to a Google spokesperson, they company worked hard to check bad actors and remove them from listings that violated their policies as soon as possible.
Although it’s been five years, there isn’t much that’s changed in terms of this issue in the local results at Google. It’s pretty difficult for Google to manually remove all of the fake listing. The other problem is that, for every fake listing that they take down, several more pop up.
Here is an article that details on who is causing the problem, and how Google is unable to prevent it at the New York Times.