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How to know you might be being ripped off by a new product or service provider.

Image: farconville /

Receiving regular questions from people who get ripped off by a slick marketing presentation frustrates me.  There are millions of sellers and marketers selling products and services they have no experience or exposure to themselves.  Having spent three years selling on the Internet when my boys were little, I am now pretty Internet aware when it comes to checking out a new seller or promoter, but still not perfect.

Last year, Chrissie from Mediocre Mum learned the hard way that there are people who can sell themselves effectively with impressive language, but have very little knowledge themselves when it comes to being faced with someone who is in their own field.  Chrissie was a delegate in a room with an expensive trainer who knew much less than she did.   A lot of us learned a valuable lesson through her experience.

While many of these people will undoubtedly learn the skills of the trade as they go, there are a few things you can do to decide for yourself whether someone knows what they are talking about.


Check the whois for the domain of the people you looking to work with or buy from.  Check any blog, shop and website address against the UK register to see how long the domain has been in operation.   Dot coms are not likely to show up on the UK Nominet register so the easiest way to do it is to use a domain seller.

Go to Namesco and enter the web address of the domain you want to check.  Find the extension your seller uses and then press the magnifying glass in red on the right hand side.

Some operators will buy pre-aged domains, so the next step you should check is.

Page Rank

An aged domain may well achieve a PR of 1 or 2 by means of simply being on the go for any length of time.  A domain with a PR of N/A or 0 is either very new or has been penalised in Google, possibly using duplicate content or selling paid links.  It’s an easy mistake to make and is fixable, but not something that should stop you using a website if other things check out.

Page Rank Checker

Ignore people who tell you Google page rank means nothing.  It means a lot to those who want to sell advertising, and helps websites feature higher in search engines.

Google has delisted link farms so some websites have lost their PR with it.  PR increases by a factor of apporoximately 10 x the amount of reputation (relevant links in) with each step it takes.

  • A PR of 2 is approx 10 x harder to get than a PR 1.
  • A PR 3 is approx 10 x harder to get than a PR 2, and so on and so forth.

It’s easy to see that a 10 is pretty nearly impossible to get.

Social Media

I’ll use social media and people who sell advice on it as an example, as I am a heavy user.  Look at the field or advice service you are planning to use with the same level of scrutiny in the appropriage fields.  If you still decide to go with it, you have made your own informed choice.

There are very big mistakes we can make trusting “experts” in social media.  The only way to try avoid them is to check out people selling services.

Social Media Profiles


If they only ever tweet to the wind and advertise themselves with little or no interaction, they know nothing about the platform.


Blog posts without dates could mean the posts are old and out of date.  To talk about blogging, people need to show evidence of exposure to writing one regularly and using it to interact with some readers.

Marketing is using a relevant mixture appropriate methods to get ourselves out there.  We all know it needs to be planned with measurable results and achievable targets in a cost friendly manner.


Online social media isn’t quite as cut and dried.  It’s a fluid, continually growing and evolving platform that takes time and effort to build up with trust and interaction.

There’s plenty of information on the web about this but make sure you listen to people who are actually using it, and not those who are simply buying what someone else has said about it.


I never, but NEVER use a small, new or budding business checkout service directly.  What you may have is someone sitting in their back bedroom who gets all your credit / debit card information with address and CSV security number.  When using Paypal, I will only use it if it goes directly to the Paypal website to pay.

I won’t use a small vendor website to pay if I have to do it through their web address in the address bar, even if they do have an SSL Certificate.  That’s not being paranoid.  I shredded the credit card details of everyone I received, but your vendor might just throw yours in their bin to land on a refuse pile, or worse, sell them on.

It’s much safer to use small vendors through Paypal direct, or if they have the use of a payment provider like Worldpay.

If it’s a Limited Company, you can check on Companies House how long they have been in operation for.   Some people buy pre-registered Companies off the shelf, so dig a little deeper if you are spending out a lot of  money.

We can’t always protect ourselves from everything, but we can try to do all we can to find out the background of someone we plan to spend money with.

6 thoughts on “How to know you might be being ripped off by a new product or service provider.

  1. I enjoyed reading this post and it certainly gave me food for thought as the owner of a website business selling mainly organic baby clothes and skincare. My aim is always to give the best customer service that I can but it is difficult to get that message out there. As you rightly say there are loads of people selling ‘marketing expertise’ but you need to know what you are signing up to.

    1. Thank you. I didn’t think about the possibilities until I was selling online myself and then I realised just now tricky it really is. Hopefully it does really help someone to be more careful.

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