MerchantCircle: We love the scum

22 Dec

The local market has started to heat up. As Google and Yahoo and MSN go searching for the next ‘big thing’, a lot of focus has been put on local search. This focus is not necessarily good when you are one of the smaller guys, trying to compete in this very space.

One company that was recently called out for its marketing behavior was MerchantCircle. The story is a bit convoluted, but the main problem cited by many was the highly aggressive marketing tactics used by MerchantCircle. The company went ahead and apologized, and I shrugged this off as an ‘oops’ learning experience that every company goes through this.

That was until I saw this.

The basic gist: unless you come and signup with us (at which point you control all reviews), we will allow all libelous statements.

“This lumber is sponsored by Al Qaeda.”

“Plus when I got my insurance, he gave me the herpes! If you really want good insurance, I suggest you go elsewhere. Fo realz.”

Considering the previous complaints was that the MC telemarketing call went along the lines of ‘You have received negative comments at Merchant Circle’, it seems like MC welcomes (vicious) negative comments.

As a layman user, if I visited that site and saw such ridiculous reviews, I would never visit the site again. Then again, maybe that is why no one is listening.

25 Responses to MerchantCircle: We love the scum


Kevin L.

January 2nd, 2007 at 9:45 pm

Hey Tech Soapbox, I think you’ve got us all wrong. I write from the heart -as the son of an immigrant merchant. The point of the post was that people go to great lengths to tarnish a reputation when they’re ticked off. We do not encourage consumer reviews, that’s for dozens of other sites that are all consumer facing.

What we do encourage is for businesses to have a web presence and know what’s being said about them on the web. That’s why we aggregate reviews from sites like Yelp and Yahoo!Local, to make sure mom and pops have it easier. Our listings are optimized to come up higher in search engines, that’s why people find them. You didn’t mention that the sign-up is free and the business listing is theirs – which they can remove if they want, even if they don’t sign up (think of Myspace).

The two reviews you list ARE ridiculous and silly – but these are the type of reviews people are writing and will continue to write. The one difference between us and anyone else, is that we make some kind of effort to tell the merchant their reputation is being tainted. Do other sites allow you to remove CONSUMER reviews?

Jacob, I’d love the opportunity to show you what we do from the merchant side, because there is no way I’d be working at a company that would disrespect my father’s integrity and his livelihood. We give businesses a voice on the web – please contact me if you doubt my sincerity.




January 15th, 2007 at 4:34 pm

Don’t know where you got Jacob :)

I don’t care about you letting them review consumer reviews. It simply makes you a shill, no matter how you put it.

But that isn’t the issue. The issue is that you have highly inflammatory ‘reviews.’ You know of them, but you choose to leave them to force the business owner to sign up and remove the offending review (which boosts your ‘claim’ of high adoption rates). In fact, you directly benefit from these highly inflammatory (and slanderous) comments. That sums it up.


L Rubin

January 19th, 2007 at 4:55 pm

MerchantCircle -an unethical kind of viral effect

After receiving an email from the Governors office inquiring to my email that I had supposedly sent them, I did some checking and here’s what I found. MerchantCircle had sent an email to the Governor of Connecticut fraudulently using my name as the signatory which boasted about the MerchantCircle service and asking them to sign up. Yes, they in-fact, took my personal email after I was jerk phone spamed, high jacked my email address and sent emails out making it appear they were from me with the intent of endorsing their service.

After days of aggravation over the issue (it’s my reputation not theirs) I officially reported the fraud to the State of Connecticut and to MerchantCircle, the State has promised to look into the fraudulent practice of Merchant Circle. MerchantCircle honored my request to cease and desist notice and removed my account. No apology, no answer on their practice – just hiding from phone and email inquires.

Their practice is certainly viral but not a mystery anymore –Ben Smith and Wayne Yamamoto are common internet spammers and scamsters of the worst kind that give legitimate companies a bad name.

For an in-depth unbiased look at MerchanCircle fraud tactics look at the post here:

L. Rubin


Tim in LA

March 13th, 2007 at 7:00 pm uses deceptive advertising and unethical marketing practices. Below is an excerpt from the letter I just sent to the Silicon Valley BBB:

“My business was just phone-spammed today by a company representing — the prerecorded voice message said “a customer has left negative feedback about your business” and to “visit to view this feedback.” There is no feedback on my business; it’s a bait-and-switch scam, baiting business owners with non-existent negative feedback and switching to a sales pitch for their services.”

Other hallmarks of a shady company such as no phone number posted and having to hunt for an email address ( would indicate to me that this is a company to avoid ANY dealings with.



August 16th, 2007 at 11:47 am

If MerchantCircle was indeed trying to help small business, they would not ALLOW any reviews until the Merchant chose to ‘claim’ the site.

By brother called me to tell me that when he Googled my name to get my website information for a potential client, the search results at the top of the page were with, and they listed a bad review with the number 1, 2, and 5 Google listings!. Not only was it a bogus bad review (I have never met with someone with the name listed as the reviewer), but it had a bogus phone number listed. In fact the bogus response had nothing to do with my business skills or product, it was simply a childish name calling response calling me an Idiot and a Scumbag’.

If we as small business owners actively CHOOSE to utilize this ‘service’ (and I do use the term loosely), then we could also CHOOSE to invite comments. If we don’t claim it, because quite frankly we have better things to do than monitor some bozo trying to kill off our business, then leave us the hell alone.

Due to this episode, I’ve already warned literally dozens of businesses about these jerks and will continue to do so…



April 18th, 2008 at 7:21 pm

new to the site, this is my favorite article so far! Thanks for the good info. Bottom line people are going to be people on and off the web.



May 24th, 2008 at 4:00 pm

I get this call all the time at home (church parsonage) and at church…Both numbers are on the DNC list. It is from Merchan Circle. I called back the number and they have an opt out on the message. Wonder if it will really work or not. Anyway, Merchant Circle is…Administrative Contact :
WYBS, Inc.
c/o Network Solutions
P.O. Box 447
Herndon, VA 20172-0447
Phone: 570-708-8780
I Just did more research. Network Solutions is the company that owns Merchant The domain name is based out of Herndon Va. I googled the company, and guess what…REAL PHONE NUMBERS!!! Give them a they are
(703) 668-5505, (703) 668-4600, (703) 925-6999


Merchantcircle, Brocade And Diminishing Ethics In Silicon Valley | Neptune Science The Blog!

June 22nd, 2008 at 9:42 pm

[...] either doesn’t exist or MerchantCircle itself has produced it. Merchant Circle co-founder Ben Smith has thus far evaded a class action lawsuit and investigation by California’s attorney [...]



September 23rd, 2008 at 5:21 pm

Please note that the information above is incorrect. Network Solutions DOES NOT own and is not affiliated with Merchant Circle. Merchantcircle is hiding their information, hosting contacts and the like. I did a little research and found that they are hosting with the following firm:

Silicon Valley Colocation, Inc.
PO Box 390804
Mountain View, CA 94039
Phone 4087470724
Phone 408400-0550

These people knew nothing of the trouble and asked that people contact them with complaints. Lets make a difference and shut down a bad company.


Business Owner

November 5th, 2008 at 6:15 pm

I must admit that I like the irony of a company claiming to do merchant reviews when it possibly has the worst reputation of any company in the country. They spam people, they lie to people, and they have no business ethics or morals whatsoever.

My first contact with them was when I got an automated call saying that “a negative review has been posted about your company on our website”. I went there, and of course it was a lie, but I guess it produced a web hit that helps them sell advertising.

I really wish the FTC or somebody would shut down the jokers running that place. They have no business in the marketplace.


J. Rothstein Jewelers

November 12th, 2008 at 2:17 pm

We have a MerchantCircle website, and I know that they listen to their Merchants. We give suggestions AND have a forum that they monitor. They have greatly improved, although I did get a cold-call saying that we should be “verified”… and it isn’t necessary to do that.
MC is primarily FREE to merchants! We can do a webpage, blogs, coupons, network, AND delete improper reviews. It is worth checking out & getting your own page! Google picks up what you do from your webpage, so do good things & write good reviews.
I have given good instructions on how to deal with bad reviews on my Forum Post & Blog:



August 3rd, 2009 at 5:32 pm

I’ve used Merchant Circle for a few months and have no issues with them at all. The value of being able to remove improper ads is a “double edged sword”. If the business owner is ethical then he will only remove poor reviews that competitors/outraged (probably unreasonable) consumes leave.

As a business owner looking for a good and cheap way to promote a business, MC makes sense.


Bob Nelson

August 30th, 2009 at 1:55 pm

We are in the process of filing a law suit against Merchant Circle for allowing defamatory posting which are nothing less than internet terrorism. They have now set up a “900″ number that you can call customer service and then pay for the call per minute and $40.00 to remove postings. If someone is determined to damage your business they just go back immediately and repost the malicious information again. You now have to repeat the process to remove the information once again. It is extortion and can be incredible damaging to any company if someone posing as a representative from your company sets your company up on the website without any authorization and then begins posting false and harmful postings. We have a high turnover in our company and any disgruntled employee can go directly to a site like this and begin working on undermining you r companies web presence with on accountability and complete anonymity. If there are any other businesses that have had these problems I would consider creating a class action lawsuit because we are filing suit as an individual company.


Marge Goodridge

August 31st, 2009 at 4:51 pm

We too are sueing merchant circle for posting terrible things about my husband’s business without checking if any of it is true. They need to be stopped. They are ruining people’s lives who have never done them any harm. We would be interested in a class action lawsuit also.


Mary J. Wenck

September 30th, 2009 at 1:23 pm

I have been trying to do business with merchants circle and find there is no way to contact them by phone! I am a new corporation and I have invented products and have won 2 patents to date for 2 of my new products! All I wanted merchants circle to do, was, to make my already set up site available to customers! I guess that is asking too much! They want to build you a new site.
My current site is: the max jewelry organization This site is already up and running and bringing in new customers for my jewelry organizers !! If, you read this and are looking for gifts for ladies, take a look at my site ! Thanks for reading this blog!


ronald james

February 3rd, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Every time I try my bussines on line, mercantcurcle comes up, not my site .
If anybody has any sugestion please resond on what I might beable to do about this ? I’ve tried to cantact them with on sucess. AT



February 10th, 2010 at 12:00 pm

I just want to remove the merchant circle listing period. You click on the MC page and see a competitor’s Google Ad. How does that help after I’ve had my own website up for years?
You see a phone number to call for this company and they want to charge you $37.00 just to call for customer service?
If you type in your company’s name, you see Merchant Circle’s crappy posting. It’s like a virus you can’t kill!


R Steck

May 17th, 2010 at 6:58 pm

I have an idea, be a good merchant and then no one will say bad things about you. As a consumer, I find this information valuable. If I see one or two bad reviews out of many good ones, I ignore the bad. But if all I see is bad reviews — we’ll then, if the shoe fits wear it.


Anonymous Coward

June 5th, 2010 at 3:52 pm

They listed my home address and phone number with a bogus business name. I found out about it because I started getting credit card offers and other physical junk mail to that fake business name at my home.

What a bunch of scumbags. If they think I’m going to pay them to remove my info, they can sit and spin.


R. Muskewitz

July 19th, 2010 at 10:07 am

This is ridiculous. Here is a company that has already been sued, has over 200 complaints registed with the BBB and hides behind an endless circle of phone prompts. Not only do they have my buisiness listed without any authorization from me, but they have the wrong address, location photo and a negative review posted by someone who isnt even one of our customers. Im willing to intitiate a class action suit if anyone wants to get involved. If so, please email me at It time for this company to go.



September 19th, 2010 at 7:06 am

Well I am a merchant on Merchant circle and when I posted a bad review about a local dentist which was a true review. They made it where I can no longer log into my account and they would not let the review be posted. Why do they say make a review if they are not going to let you make a bad review that really is true and correct. They are scum bags and Merchant Circle is a big joke. I wonder who hacked into my two emails and put something into my computer where I could not longer even access the Merchant Circle site. It was those scum bags. I told them how someone deleted a good review on my Merchant Circle site and must have hacked into my account and they responded to me in an angry tone stating that their was no way that was possible. They are complete scum and what a joke.


J. Rothstein & co.

October 31st, 2010 at 5:53 pm

I have been a merchant since 2008. Never had a bad review, but you can delete them if you ever get one. It is very rare that anyone’s acct gets hacked into.
Go to the forums and fine the customer care people. You will be taken care of soon. You don’t have to pay for anything…
***Why are you writing as Anonymous?? People can help you if you are telling the TRUTH. ***
MerchantCircle is not a joke. There are wonderful people working there, and most of my merchant network people are very nice. If you claim your listing, you can fix all your listing details & make a great page.



January 9th, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Merchant Circle is a dishonest service that should be shut down by consumer advocacy groups. As an above comment said, it allows owners to delete bad reviews of their company. It also allows bad companies to write unlimited fake reviews about themselves. The concept is inherently flawed, therefor will not last. Just another scraper website trying to get ad clicks from traffic. Merchant Circle sucks!



March 15th, 2012 at 2:52 am

Can’t anyone say anything nice about MerchantCircle? It used to be our favorite web local business directory.



May 11th, 2012 at 11:41 am

I have the same problem.

I had this problem in 2007 and I sent them a certified letter to remove the negative review on their site.

Here we are in 2012 and they did it again. I found their facebook page and left negative comments on it for people to see and I urge you here to do the same. Also contact the media, state attorney, FBI internet crimes, and FTC. My attorney said they are doing deceptive business practicing, false advertisement, slander, extortion, and wire fraud.

We need to put this scam company out of business.