We’ve been in business for almost ten years. That makes us ancient in the online shopping world. Every now and again, an upstart comes along and tries to copy us. They fail. Those sorts of people are easily dealt with, they’re no bother.
The nasties that *do* bother us though, are the superficially legit companies which set out to deprive online companies of their hard-earned income. Not because they have damaged us, no, we’ve been around too long to fall for their schtick, but because of the damage they do to others who are not so savvy.
Their gig is this: they call you up, promise you either a) they will get your company on the first page of Google or b) if you pay them 11% of every sale you make, plus a monthly fee, plus a large setting up fee, they will put your products in some random category on their online “shopping portal linked to GMTV” and you will make, er, gazillions of £.
Sounds unlikely? Yes, that’s because they can’t deliver.
The latest saddos beating a path to the Snorestore door are this bunch of losers: www.fruugo.com . Why is it in Swedish? You might well ask. Anyway, Fruugo managed to lose a staggering €11 MILLION in 2009. On a turnover of a massive, er, €8236.
This August, Fruugo “merged” with a well-known (so they tell you) English company which has, variously gone by the names of myfaveshop.com, edirectory.co.uk and shoppingbank.com. Funny how all those links go to the same place isn’t it.
Shoppingbank’s salesmen love to tell you that they are “GMTV’s online shop” and various other near-libellous nonsense. They also love to tell you that their turnover is “in the millions.” Dear reader, nothing could be further from the truth.
edirectory.co.uk started life in April 2000 according to the ever helpful Companies House website. Unfortunately things didn’t go all that well, and the last accounts are only up to December 2006. Hardly a megabucks operation. If I’m not very much mistaken, that’s a multi-million pound operating loss showing there? Anyway, it all came to a head in 2009 with a winding up order, and finally compulsory liquidation which became absolute on 25th November 2010.
Overlapping with edirectory, came Directory Technologies Ltd – with the same registered address in Cumbria. DT started up in April 2008, around the time that edirectory started to run into serious problems, what with directors resigning, accounts not being filed and so on. Maurice Saatchi was one of Directory Technologies’ original directors – a fact that DT liked to trumpet in its sales calls. That and the tenuous GMTV “link.”
As you can see from shoppingbank.com’s terms and conditions page, Directory Techologies are the brains behind that delightful “portal” which has rave reviews all over the interwebs. Not. Here is just one of many forum threads which tells it like it is: http://www.ukbusinessforums.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=131714&highlight=shoppingbank You can find plenty of others in a couple of Google clicks, plus newspaper coverage about the original group parent company eDirectory plc and a bust former incarnation, CTD Limited.
But Directory Technologies was also having a hard time, despite the presence on their board of an extremely wealthy Tory peer. Accounts to the end of April 2009 show minus figures on the P and L account. No sign of the millions the company’s salesmen liked to talk about.
So it was inevitable that DT would seek other partners. Having failed to conquer the UK market, they needed to conquer Europe. Fruugo looked just the ticket. Bigger (on paper), more investors, and attractive multi million pound losses!
Since Fruugo and Directory Technologies became one over the summer, their salesmen have been busy placing the same calls, to the same companies, using the same shitspiel we have come to know and
By the way, the name changing thing is quite a habit in this sector of industry. It’s Cold Outside, another PITA search engine optimisation (SEO) company, changed its name in June 2010 to ADD MEDIA (GROUP) LIMITED. They know we’re onto them them, so they try to hide their true identities.
Dear company owners, don’t touch them with a bargepole the length of the Grand Union unless you’re happy to spend lots and lots of money for uncertain returns. Dear shoppers, you have to make your own judgement. You might get a better deal if you did a simple Google search for the product you want to buy.
Shortly after letting it be known on Twitter that a rat was wafting its odour through our office, our Twitter account started being followed by a Ben Catterall (@bencatterall to give him his Twitter handle). The odour got stronger. We noticed he tells the world on his biog that he’s based in Warrington. So was the hapless salesman who had the misfortune to call Snorestore late this afternoon…
It was but a few short Twitter steps before we found these tweets on Mr Catterall’s timeline:
The @MichelleDewbs he is trying to sell his company’s services to, is of course none other than Michelle Dewberry, sometime winner of The Apprentice. Looks like she gave him short shrift, only rather more politely than we did!
Elsewhere in his timeline, Ben goes on and on AND ON about how bored he is. He also bemoans the fact that Facebook is banned at work. Hope his employers aren’t reading this, they might have to find him something else to do apart from trying to talk to celebs …