Jump Up Media cold call con
I have added this paragraph after this mater has been successfully resolved as it is important you know this before reading the rest. All the following paragraphs were added shortly after each event. Jump Up Media t/a Talking Fast Ltd may well be a genuine company, I cannot prove otherwise. However my involvement with them left a lot to be desired. If you do get involved with this company I would advise you to take the following precautions;
- Don't agree to pay any money on the first call.
- Make a note of the names of everyone you speak to and document it.
- Make sure they send you detailed information of the service they will supply you with including a complete list of the key phrases that will be used either in writing or via e-mail BEFORE you pay them any money. Credit card companies won't do anything unless you can provide written proof.
- Shop around and check out Google's other authorised partners under Google adwords.
I don't normally buy anything from cold callers full stop but today I got caught. I had been looking for ways to further advertise my Pet Portrait Service and had had friends recommend giving Google a try on several occasions but I had always dismissed the idea. Today I got called by someone who I shall refer to as 'CJ', who said he was calling on behalf of Google. He was offering top ranking for my web site for a period of 31 days for 5 key word phrases for just £99. He seemed to know a bit about my web site and made it sound very convincing. What he was selling;
- I was told that within 48 hours my web site would be placed at the top of a Google search page for my 5 key phrases and if it didn't I could get my money back.
- I would be able to change those key phrases at any time for free should I wish.
- He also assured me that he would be my personal Google account manager and I could ring him at any time should I have a question or problem.
- After the 31 days if I wanted to continue I would just need to let them know but it would not automatically renew.
- All for just £99. (I wasn't too convinced about the 'just' as it seemed a lot of money for a month but he pointed out I should easily be able to recoup that amount by increased sales.)
I went ahead with the purchase. How stupid is that???
After nearly 2 hours I had not been e-mailed an invoice as promised so I phoned the Jump Up Media back but was told 'CJ' was on the phone so I asked the person about the invoice. I was told that 'CJ' should not have told my t would be sent straight away as it can take up to 2-3 days but she agreed to get one sent out today. When it arrived the £99 had gone up to £118.80 as vat had been included. There had been no mention of vat during my conversation with 'CJ' and I had taken "just £99" to mean just that. I am not vat registered so cannot claim that back.
I got back on the phone to Jump Up Media but once again 'CJ' was not available. I voiced my concern and was put through to someone I shall refer to as 'AW' in customer services. I told him I wanted to pull out of the whole deal and get a refund. He said he could not do that and I should have expected them to charge vat on top of the price quoted but he would listen to the tape and if it was the case that vat had not been mentioned he would, "as a gesture of goodwill" refund my vat. He promised to get back to my by 5pm tonight. He also said that for future months I would only be charged £99 inclusive of vat should I decide to stay with them. I told him there was no chance of that.
Jump Up Media may well be a genuine company and my site might get top ranking for 31 days but if that is the case why do they need to employ such sharp selling techniques? Unfortunately there is no way of contacting Google in the UK to confirm their credentials as Google don't supply a contact e-mail or phone number. Google do supply a postal address in London but by the time my letter had found it's way to the correct department and I had received a reply my 31 day period would probably be almost up. It remains to be seen if I do get my vat back but I will let you know either way. In the mean time, if you do get contacted by Jump Up Media steer well clear.
17:30hrs - No call came from Jump Up Media so I contacted my credit card company. I was informed that as the transaction had not fully been processed onto my account they could not do anything at this stage but I should call them back in 3 days time. By then the details of the transaction should be on my account and I can report it to their complaints team for investigation. He told me that I had a case as I only authorised a withdrawal of £99 and they took more. He said any hidden charges should have been made clear no matter what they were for. If I don't get any satisfaction from Jump Up Media before hand I will contact the credit card company back on Friday. Watch this space for updates.
Wednesday 20th July - Still nothing heard from Jump Up Media so I rang them again this morning about 10:30. I asked to speak to 'AW' but was told he was on a call but that he would call me back straight afterwards.
15:30 - Still no call back from 'AW' so I phoned again. He was apparently still on the phone but I was invited to hold if I wished. I said I would but when no one got back to me after 25 minutes I hung up and rang again. I spoke to the same lady receptionist who said she was sitting next to 'AW' and he was still on the same call. She said she would pass the message on to phone me back as soon as he finished his call which she expected to be in the next 10 minutes.
No phone call came!
Thursday 21st July - Well it's been over 48 hours now so my web site should now be coming up at the top of any Google UK search for each of my key phrases, but it's not even appearing on the first page for any of them! 'CJ' did say if this happened I would get a full refund. I phoned Jump Up Media and spoke to the same receptionist again who's name I now know and will refer to as 'B'. She told me 'CJ' was unavailable as he was on the phone. I explained to her that he told me when he convinced me to sign up with Jump Up Media that he would be my personal Google account manager and I could phone him if ever I had a problem. She said that as he is in sales he is always on the phone so very difficult to get hold of. I then explained that it had been over 48 hours and my site was not top of any Google UK page. 'B' said she would have to discuss the matter with tech support and would get back to me by the close of play today.
In the mean time I have gone through Jump Up Media's terms of service that they sent me. It states there that they will renew the service each month unless I write to them giving them 30 days notice! This is contrary to what I was told on the phone before I agreed to the service.
I have now written a letter to the company pointing out that they are in breach of contract on the 48 hour front and demanding my money back as promised. I have also informed them I will not be renewing so they are not authorised to take any more money out of my account. Letter to sent by recorded delivery very shortly. I am also writing to my credit card company to keep them fully appraised.
14:55 hrs 'B' phone back (well that was a result in itself). She told me that the reason my site had not gone live was because 'AW' asked the tech team to put a hold on it as he was investigating the possibility of refunding my money in full. She then said that she could confirm a full refund would be available if that is what I want but it would need to be via a cheque. I asked why it couldn't simply be put back on my credit card but she said they did not have that facility. I accepted the refund via cheque. She told me it would be put in the post either by end of play today or first thing tomorrow morning. I thanked her for her help. Of course, I won't fully believe it until it is in my hands but at least I feel I am getting somewhere. In the mean time the letters have gone out to Jump Up Media and my credit card company as stated above and I was in the process of composing a letter to Google UK but I'll put a hold on that one for the time being.
Friday 22nd July - contacted my credit card company again to appraise them of the current situation and to see if my letter had arrived. They did not yet have my letter but would open the case in the mean time. They would be in contact with me once the letter arrives to see where to take it from there and check to see if Jump Up Media did indeed send the cheque. They also told me there was nothing to stop Jump Up Media refunding the money back onto the credit card.
I have just searched Google for Google Certified Partners, which Jump Up Media claim to be as shown on their web site, but Google returned no results for Jump Up Media or for their t/a name of Talkingfast Ltd. This is where I searched https://adwords.google.com/professionals/search/
You might like to try it yourself.
This is looking more and more like Jump Up Media t/a Talkingfast LTD might be a spoof company.
Saturday morning - a cheque arrives from Jump Up Media!...the cheque has been written out incorrectly. The cheque is written for £118.80 in words but the figure in the box is £118.00. There is a covering letter with it from a person I shall refer to as 'RM' from the Retentions Department. The letter doesn't say much other than to say there is a cheque enclosed for £118.80. I took this and the cheque to the bank but they won't accept the cheque even for £118 and told me I'd have to get back in contact with the company to ask them to send out a new one. This could be a genuine mistake but I think this was probably deliberate as a stalling method, after all, there was no reason for them not to simply put the money back on my credit card.
Looking closer at their web site this company is looking more and more like a fake. The testimonials page has 3 testimonials with the clients name and web address. The first testimonial was by a Mr Akay Arnold for a Pan-Asian restaurant in Manchester but the phone number on the web site is not in use so I can't check that one out. There is a e-mail address for Akay but as Jump Up Media also build web sites this restaurant web site might also be fake along with any e-mail addresses. The second is for The Amblehurst Hotel, also in Manchester and the person leaving the testimonial was Mr A Hussain. I phoned the hotel, they had never heard of this person but there was no one there to confirm if their hotel had had any dealing with Jump Up Media and suggested I phone back on Monday. The last was from a Mrs N Dean - B Inspired, a chocolate company but their web site simply doesn't exist. Draw your own conclusions.
Monday 25th July 2011 09:04 - Phoned Jump Up Media again and spoke to 'B'. She is actually 'RM' the person who sent the letter and cheque. I pointed out the mistake and she said she would have to get in touch with her manager 'R' as he signed the cheque and would have to write another. I cannot read the signature on the cheque so I'd just have to take his word for it. I told her that the credit card company said there is no reason to prevent you simply refunding the money back onto my card. She said she didn't know why they didn't do that but they never had. she said she would mention this to 'R' when he came in but he was not in the office yet. I asked her to get him to call me if he was unable to refund the money back onto my card.
09:20 - Phoned my credit card company but the charge back department were not open yet. The lady I spoke to said my letter was still not on my account either although the notes were. She said if the letter had been posted on Thursday it probably would not get entered onto my account until Tuesday so I should ring back then. I explained to her the events over the weekend and she advised me to photocopy the letter and cheque and send that into them as this provides stronger proof for the claim, she would update the account accordingly.
14:25hrs - Still not been phoned back by Jump Up Media so I rang again and spoke to 'RM'. She said that 'R' had still not been into the office or answered any of his calls but she had left a message on his mobile for him to ring her about this. She said that she would keep trying but that if she did not hear from him by 3 o'clock she would try and get another manager involved.
16:00 hrs - I phoned Jump Up Media again and spoke to 'RM'. She said that 'R' had still not turned up but she was expecting him in soon. She then said she would make some enquiries in the accounts dept and put me on hold. When she came back to me she said that 'R' wasn't back you but the dept had already issued another cheque and posted it to me. I said I was not happy with that as I wanted it put back onto my card. She apologised and said she had told them that. I voiced my concerns over the testimonials not checking out and the fact that Google didn't seem to have any record of their company being a Google Certified Partner. She insisted the company was legit and if I wished I could be put through to a manager to have that confirmed. I could not see much point in that. She also told me the web site was in the process of being rebuilt so many of the links were disabled.
Wednesday 27th July - I am now in possession of a second cheque with covering letter. This time it looks OK, it remains to be seen if it gets cleared. Funnily enough, despite being told that 'R' was not available and this cheque had been issued by someone else in the accounts department also without 'RM's' knowledge, the cheque was signed by the same person who signed the original and the letter was apparently from 'RM'. Things still don't really add up but as long as this cheque clears I'll be happy. If I get it paid in today it will still be at least a week before I know for sure. I will update this blog accordingly either way.
Friday 8th August - The bank has now had 7 working days to clear this cheque and it is appearing OK on-line so I guess that means it's gone through OK. Looks like they delivered on their promise after all but just had a strange way of going about it. Not sure I would have got the same result if I hadn't put up a fight though.
Tuesday 6th September - At 12:52 today I was contacted by phone by Andrew Pearson, Operations manager of Jump Up Media. He was concerned about the catalogue of problems I had had with the company and wanted to assure me they were doing all they could to improve their performance so this would never happen again. He told me that B had been sent on a training course, another employee had been 'let go' and AW had been given a talking to. I told him that out of all of them 'B' seemed to be the most genuine and was the only person to return any calls and appeared to do her best to try and sort things out but that she was in the difficult position of being stuck in the middle. Andrew Pearson then asked me what measures I thought the company should take to improve the service they offer. I mentioned a list;
- They should always return calls when promised. He said this was being addressed in a training course.
- Customers that are cold called should not be expected to have to give out their credit card details straight away but should be given time to think about it and research their key phrases. He said it was difficult as they needed to get things under-way quickly as only one business of any one type would be called at a time so that there would not be more than one business chasing the same top spot. He did say that they would probably be able to allow a customer a few hours to think it over and then call them back before the end of the day. That at least would be an improvement.
- All charges should be made clear before people are asked to sign up. He agreed with me on this and said that would be resolved.
- A contract or letter of agreement should be e-mailed to the customer including the chosen key phrases before they are asked to pay. He said that the full terms of service were on their web site (I can't find them but then maybe I'm not looking in the right place) and they could not give the key phrases as the customer might just take them away and use them without buying their service. I said this didn't hold water because you have already verbally agreed these key phrases on the phone so they could still do that so putting it in writing would not make any difference to that. He then said that the other reason was because they could not guarantee the chosen key phrases would be available although 99% of the time they would be, but that if they were not they might have to substitute. I pointed out that this would mean the customer would not know what they were paying for then, so he replied by saying they could change them if they were not happy of we could issue them a credit note. I said in such instance you should offer them a full refund.
- Refunds should be put back on the credit card. He said they didn't do that because it would often take up to 10 days for the funds to be clear that way but they were looking at offering a direct bank transfer. I said you should let the customer decide and if they want it put back on their card you should agree to do that.
- The references on their web site don't currently check out. He said the web site has been rebuilt but they are awaiting authorisation before it can go live. Funny, I was told that 2 months ago! Later in the conversation I said it would not take an afternoon simply to re-write the out of date testimonials on the current web site and replace them with current genuine ones. He agreed that would be done today. Worth checking.
Andrew Pearson then went on to say that all these points would be raised with the intention of putting them into a re-training course and asked me if they were put in place if I would think it would improve their service.
I said if all those points were put into place the service would be phenomenally better.
He then went on to say that my blog was causing them a problem and losing them custom and would I mind taking it down seeing as how he had promised to address all these issued.
I said that would be entirely at my discretion and I had no plans to do so.
He went on to say that my case was a one off, that it was not simply one error but a whole catalogue of errors and as such would not happen again. I asked him what he intended to do about all the other people that have had or are having problems with Jump Up Media and he promised that he would sort it all out if they contact him.
He said he thought my blog presented an unbalanced view of their service and that there was no other bad publicity or comments on the internet about Jump Up Media. He also said that people never write articles to say how good a service they get from companies. I agreed that it generally is only when someone want to complain that they are prepared to write about it but that they themselves were not helping there as their current testimonials on the Jump Up Media web site did not check out. This is when he agreed to have them updated by the end of the day.
He asked me what else he could say that would convince me to remove this blog.
I replied "Actions speak louder than words"
but said that Google had been in contact with them as they were concerned that one of their partners was being seen in this bad light and had told them they should get me to remove this blog. He also said that "this is not a threat but it had been suggested they take legal action but I said it would be better if I just talk to you".
I pointed out that I had just noted the facts and there was nothing slanderous in anything I have said. Naturally I can't vouch for the authenticity of other peoples comments. I also said that if I did not get any more people commenting on my blog to say they had either bad dealings or had felt they were being trapped by a cold caller from this company then I would assume that things had been put right after a while and remove it but that would take time.
He spent ages trying to convince me to remove this blog giving me 7 days to do so after which they would have to look at other means. The conversation eventually ended with no agreement by me.