User Sues – Should Merchant Circle worry?

According to, Anthony Michaels received an email last December from advising him that his former classmates were trying to contact him. He proceeded to upgrade to the premium  membership so that he might contact his long lost school mates. But Michaels learned that no one that he knew was actually trying to contact him, He is claiming in his class action law suit, that it was a deceptive scam. The suit, brought in San Diego, was filed by Kabateck, Brown and Kellner.

I was struck by the similarities of’s tactics to those frequently used by Merchant Circle. There have been a number of writers (John BatelleMatt McGee,  Greg Sterling & myself) and readers critical of Merchant Circle’s tactics. Matt’s post from September of 2006 is of interest because every time MC cranks up a questionable marketing practice, the comments start flowing in. The comments section on that post now has 132 comments and most of them are quite recent. 

As the Wired article points out, the limited budgets of the states’ Attorney Generals have limited their action in dealing with deceptive advertising and “that leaves class action attorneys on the front line of technology in the consumer area.”

Update: Miriam Ellis of Solas Design has a related post on deceptive marketing practices on Yelp in the SF area: SMBs Say Yuck To Yelp’s Telemarketers

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3 thoughts on “ User Sues – Should Merchant Circle worry?”

  1. My gosh, Matt’s comments section on that 2006 post is overwhelming!

    By coincidence, Yelp is getting hammered again in the SF Bay Area. Greg reported on this back in August and so did I. Sounds like they are at it again with an aggressive telemarketing program. I’ve blogged about this today, Mike, if you want to see.


  2. @Miriam

    Yes the comments section of the post is overwhelming and the amazing thing is that MOST of them are from 2008 even though the original post was in 2006. I think Matt is out there optimizing for the phrase Merchant Circle Sucks. 🙂

    BTW, you are welcome, no…encouraged to post related url’s here.


  3. Oh, thank you, Mike. I appreciate that invitation. I wish to honor your guidelines here, and thank you for inviting me to link in future.

    Invariably, our clients end up getting contacted by Merchant Circle, and I give them ‘the lecture’ on MCs reputation for sharp and exploitative business practices. They are always shocked, and I am always glad that I was there to steer them clear. I am disappointed to see Yelp being repeatedly accused of taking the low road. They have a powerful database of reviews. They ought to be classy about what they do with it.

    I wish Mr. McGee luck!

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