A client of mine– a lawyer–, once hired an, as it turned out, less-than-honest online marketing firm that promised SEO services for a rather steep monthly fee. The promised leads were not generated, and he eventually canceled his contract. One strategy the shady marketing firm (called Real Practice) used was to list an alternate phone number and web site that would forward to my client’s, and would be used to track the number of leads supposedly generated by them. My client took this to mean that these listings would be in addition to the regular leads he was getting off of Google, Yahoo, and Bing. As it turned out though, Real Practice was trying to take credit for those leads too– they had changed the phone number and web site on the local listings to their phony ones. Once my client canceled his account, that phony phone number and web site address remained, though they no longer forwarded to him. So, customers could no longer reach him via his Google Places account. Real Practice wanted $50 a month FOREVER, in order to rectify the situation.
Corrections from inside the Google Places account yielded no results! Same thing on Bing and Yahoo! No matter how many times we tried to change the listings to display the correct information, both from within the owner-verified accounts, and as outsiders providing updates, the information kept reverting to display the defunct phone number and web site address. Did Real Practice somehow have access to these accounts, and were they going in there each time to change the information? No. My client assured me that he had never given his Google Places account information to Real Practice– same with Bing and Yahoo. As it turned out, they had claimed his InsiderPages listing, and that information was overriding any changes we were making inside the individual search engines. We contacted InsiderPages, and they immediately unclaimed the listing so that we could claim it and fix the web site and phone number. Very soon afterwards, the Google, Yahoo, and Bing local accounts followed suit, and the correct information was being displayed.
So, no matter what you do inside your owner-verified accounts, it seems that certain databases, like Insider Pages, will override them. To be on the safe side, we also got a Universal Business Listing. And that is hopefully the end of this story.