Google Maps is still overrun with scammers pretending to be local businesses, and Google's profiting from them

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Next time try working with a local architect on your renovation, who will be able to give you plenty of referrals to reputable contractors.


Yeah, it is interesting how pre-internet services like the Yellow Pages and classifieds avoided this level of fraudulent advertising.

It does seem like the only real answer is to go to local sites, ones that are more of the “for locals, by locals” and work backwards to a map service rather than starting on the map. Spend time researching to set up your own handyman list on your phone. Talk to your neighbors.

Avoid the trap of using the monopolist.


Two words: Yellow Pages. Sometimes it’s best to go old-school.


Especially for contractors, I rely almost exclusively on word-of-mouth recommendations.


Cory, I get how non-tech-savvy people can fall for this stuff, but I’m kind of surprised that you can’t separate the wheat from the chaff. Surely you don’t go straight from click to call without further internet digging?


Seconding this. It’s tough when you’re in a new town, but it really is the best way to get quality work at something approaching a reasonable price.


I heard of someone who was scammed by a shipping company. They turned up in a white van, took a load of stuff to be shipped to Nigeria, gave him some paper work and he never saw them or his property again.

So he was having his stuff shipped to Nigeria, or that was just where it ended up going?

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He really wanted a load of household goods shipped to Nigeria. He never heard of it, or the shipping company again,


Speaking as someone with more than a decade of professional experience in construction: it is important to check references.


I have found Google Maps surprisingly good for finding decent restaurants. It’s evidently not so good for tradespeople. Contractors in my state are licensed and you can ask for their id with license # and look that up online. The business name should match and they should have a clean record. Some people have no license (handymen for example) but for any large-value job a license is required.


Why have all these companies that were supposed to “change the world for the better” now turned to absolute shit?


Are you telling me that the land of freedumb, milk and honey and the ‘American Dream’ doesn’t have a site like Check-A-Trade? Where all those tradespersons are rated and checked by those who use them?

Cory you should have stayed in the UK where these things are more civilised (also not seen much if any fake Google stuff here, out of date stuff yes, and the odd private company which has no real ‘shop’ being suggested but those might be genuine).

It turns out that changing the world is hard, and making money is a lot easier.


Well I was at least able to get my home address and phone number removed from google maps which listed me as a hair salon in my neighborhood.

Somehow my home based arts and crafts etsy/internet business got listed in databases as a beauty salon. Don’t know where or when it happened (registering with the state or county) but for years I keep getting calls offering credit card processing, mailed free magazines for my waiting room or offers for website services. About 2 months ago we got a call from someone asking if we still did hair. Asked them where they had heard of us and it was from google maps. When I checked there we were, phone number and all with my business name listed. I did the report error in listing thing and also through mapquest as well as it also showed up there and a couple weeks later it was gone.


Well, they did change things in a lot of ways, arguably for the better. What we are now seeing is the next wave of parasitic infection.

I find biology a wonderful analogy, where what we are seeing now is the unfortunate result of monoculture plus evolving without an immune system. Google Maps is like this huge tree that grew exponentially thanks to the symbiosis with us users, now being infected with a parasite that preys upon the symbionts. Either we, the symbionts develop a defence, the tree develops a way to ward off the parasites, or the tree will wither and possibly die, though considering the size it seems unlikely.


Word of mouth :slight_smile:

This story is one of the main reasons I run NoScript and block tracking JavaScripts, and most especially google-analytics. Malvertisers use the data to find forums and review sites to pollute with their lies. I refuse to feed that monster.

I don’t care what kind of value a website owner gets from their “free” service, it’s certainly not as much as Google gets from the deal, and a great deal worse for their clientele.


So Googie Maps has got this deal where they ask people, they call them ‘local guides,’ to update their database for basically free… Or maybe for imaginary internet points. If you you collect enough of these internet points, you can rise through the ranks of Google Guides and get free stuff. Aside from posting reviews and answering questions about businesses that you’ve been to, they ask for help fleshing out their business database with information like hours of operation, photos of the storefront, etc.

So, since I am a sucker for fake internet points, I go to the businesses near my house. One says that it’s a church, but it looks like a regular single-family dwelling on a residential street. I snapped a photo anyway, and now when you look at the listing for this church, you see my photo of it.

Another listing was for what was supposed to be some sort of financial planner / advisor in a townhouse, and so I took another picture from the sidewalk in front, even though there was nothing outwardly apparent that it was actually a business. In fact, it looked like it was vacant and a little run down. I pulled my headphones back on and head down the street to the next on the list, vaguely aware of someone yelling nearby.

So I head around the corner to the next house listed. It also has no outward indication of being a business, but was supposed to be a pest control company. In fact, I was having a hard time finding the right house number, so I walked up and down the street, trying to locate the correct house.

All of a sudden, a car screeches up behind me, and two guys jump out and start yelling at me. What was I doing taking pictures of that townhouse? I try to explain what I was doing, but they don’t seem to want to understand. Finally, I pull up the Google listing on my phone for the address, and show them that Google thinks it is a business, and wanted pictures, and besides, there’s nothing wrong with taking pictures of anything from the street. They’re still plenty pissed off, and tell me that it’s not a business, and that a guy could get shot doing what I was doing, and I should be more careful. I managed to get the smarter one of the two to calm down a bit, and I even go so far as to show him while I go through the steps of correcting the Google listing that there isn’t a business at that address. Eventually, they drive off, with the stupid one still gesticulating at me.

I still think about that day when I drive through that neighborhood, and think about how it could have been much worse, and needless to say, that was the last time I tried to help Google update their business map.