Google


I just couldn’t resist sharing this funny phone conversation with my mom this evening.  I was discussing a documentary I recently watched about Mt Vesuvious and the city of Pompeii and how they had discovered a bit of graffiti on the walls of these stone ruins.  I was relating how I  couldn’t believe that 1200 years ago, they wrote graffiti on the walls of these stone latrines! I asked her if it was true that some things never change?

When I asked my mom about this, she laughed hysterically and she said ” my mother always told me to never forget… ” Fools Names & Fools Faces always appear in Public Places”   I really had to laugh at the wisdom of her mothers statement.  But I really wanted to know if that was her moms statement, or a proverb of history.  My mother said she had no idea, she only knew that it came from her mother and that she had heard it preached to her MANY times.

Well, thank goodness for Google and the internet!  I proceeded to Google the saying, then with further clues, I was led to a site that listed many such proverbs, all from a man named Thomas Fuller.  My mother was so excited to know more about Thomas Fuller, because it was a link to her Mother who died when my mother was only 17 years old.   So I continued to search Google (thank goodness for our ability to multi task) while I was talking to my Mom on the phone.  I stumbled upon a website that had 9 pages of Thomas Fuller quotes, and mom and I continued to read them together and laugh.  Her final question was when did Thomas Fuller live?  After a little further Google research, I discovered that his bio was 1608 – 1661.  I almost gave my mother a heart attack!  My Mom was born in the early 1930’s, so to her the fact that her mother was quoting some really incredible quotes of wisdom from the 1600’s was pretty astounding.  She happily said ” my mother must have been a pretty well read woman”

I was pretty impressed with how cool that phone call went!  I couldn’t help but think Happy Holidays to our family,  what a legacy!

http://www.project10tothe100.com/

It’s time to vote for your favorite project! The deadline is October 8th!  I was a little surprised that you don’t really get to vote for some of your actual favorite ideas and projects, but it appears to be more about concepts.   One of my favorites was about alternative energy that Chad Maglaque submitted which you can read about http://www.clariantechnologies.com/

I have to admit that I had a tough time deciding when I was reading through the voting choices & criteria.  All of the choices are important social  issues and crucial to our well being and future development. Some of them were a bit too political for me.  Politics are important but I tend to  get sick of hearing and talking about the subject because nothing ever changes and I as an individual feel like I have no impact on the outcome and this frustrates  me.

Many of the options stood out to me as great ideas!  I read them all and studied them & we had some big discussions about each category.  I was drawn to quite a few of them, but the more I thought about it & as much as I was touched by each category I still kept coming back to education.  I really feel like everything would be possible if you had access to education.  Education is expensive and at what point do we decide that education should be more accessible so that we can improve society overall?  Wouldn’t we would all benefit from this?  I remember having coffee with a local philanthropist, and he made a comment that stunned me!  He said ” I can take care of my son just fine, but what happens when I send him out into a society of uneducated people?”  He made the point that if his son was the only educated one,  it would be of no good to society.

One of the Google project choices involves Africa, which I am also passionate about because of the extreme poverty, but when we discussed it with our group we still came back to education.   There are other choices about government transparency, which are good too, but I wonder just how much better our life would be if we know more about the systems that we  still  have no control or voice  about ?  So I not sure about that vote either.

I was looking for an option about energy alternatives which I feel pretty compassionate about, but I didn’t really find that option to vote for,  other than the mass transit idea.  Of course we would all like to have mass transit, but are we willing to pay for it? I think we are all too stressed financially to even think about paying more for mass transit.  I think  were all under the illusion that this was what our tax dollars were going for already.  Sorry, but government and banking are not on my most favored list right now.

I really love the idea about science and engineering, as this is about our future infrastructure.  This is funny for me as a floral designer to say, but my whole industry has a foundation in science .  I think science is really important, but there again it came back to education for me.

The only other category that I remember thinking about and discussing was health data, and considering the recent swine flu outbreaks and the future talks about pandemics, it is also very crucial to our world!

But when we really thought about it, we decided that it really all came down to education, and making it available to everyone at no cost!  It will be through education that we all become stronger and better.  I think education could be the salvation of the world!

No matter what your opinion is, please go and vote on the google 10th to the 100th project, because it is through ideas and visions  that our future becomes a new reality.

Everyone knows the tough economic conditions are affecting business owners, especially small business.  I’m optimistic by nature and I really believe things will eventually be alright.  The thing that is really bothering me is how nasty and dirty competitors are becoming.  I don’t know if it is just in my industry but I can’t believe how ugly it is becoming.

I am sure that the average consumer has no clue as to the kind of tactics that are being used to manipulate consumers  to try and steal business away.  I really feel that it is important to bring it out in the open and hopefully educate the consumer on this important  matter.  First let me say, that this has nothing to do with “fair” competition because I believe that competition is what makes our system so great for consumers.  But it has everything to do with business owners that lie to the public, who are cheating the cities out of the much needed tax revenue, & using the internet to make bogus false claims & reviews.

It is just plain common sense to assume that every city out there needs all the tax revenue they can get,  right?  So tell me why, the city can’t collect taxes from a business that claims to be located in my city and tricks people into buying because they think they are ordering from a local business?  When I ask the city, they tell me that they can only collect tax if they have an address in the city.  Now they have a local phone number, so they appear local, they say they are located in our city, but are not, so because the crooks know the loopholes in the law, they get away with stealing business from the local “real”  business, that is located in the city,  you know the kind of “real” business that pays rents, and wages, and taxes and donates their services to the community and the city.

So here is an example:  A so called Kirkland company has registered more that 6 local business locations on Google Maps and other review sites this past week, all supposedly  located in Kirkland Washington, with 6 different names.  The problem is that this business is located in a different city, and operates under a different name.  Actually to be more accurate, they operate under 100’s of different names, in my state alone.   It would be fine with me if the consumer knew that they were ordering from the shop with XYZ name located in XYZ town, but instead they use the names of legitimate local business owners and claim to be us and post bogus business names and phone numbers.  I have yet to find a way to solve the problem.     Is this okay,  I don’t think so!

Now this is not personal, because this particular business pretends to be every other business in our state as well.  They change one letter or add a dash or  a period.  They  add an  “S” to Brittany, or they add a dash  between Brittany and Flowers.They claim to be in Bothell, and  in Woodinville, and in Redmond, in Seattle, in Duvall, the list just goes on & on.  I point this out to  suggest  that when you order on the internet you check the spelling carefully and also be careful you are not being forwarded to a call center or a legitimate business that is using deceptive practices by pretending that they are local.

I recently had someone try to call and thank us for a job that we had done, but it did not go very well, this scam person was advertising in Google sponsored links, and using my company name, with their website information, and phone number so when the customer tried to call me, it went to this fake Kirkland store, which is not in Kirkland at all.

The terrible results of this problem affect us all. I had a lady call me the other day, and she was so cautious but I was actually I really proud of her.  I almost had the order done, when she got nervous because I asked her the address for the Hospice Center where she was wanting to send flowers. She thought I was a fake flower shop. I am sorry but I can’t tell you how to get to every facility in my town and I certainly don’t remember the addresses of every business or home we deliver to.  I was so offended when she said, “I’m getting the feeling  that I need to call a local florist.”   Wow!!! That really surprised me!  I understood it completely, but honestly I was so offended and ticked off!  This lady has obviously been stung a few times when ordering online.   I felt really sad, because this is the fall out of bogus business listings on the internet.  I’ve even had customers that have ordered from this bogus store, call and complain to me that their flowers were not delivered.  They thought they had  ordered from us because this bogus advertiser was using our name on the Google sponsored advertising. I don’t know the answer, but something needs to be done to stop this kind of thing from happening.  Check out Blumenthals blog, ( check my link on the right hand side of the main page for his site ) as he has some great examples of similar things happening to other business owners and even individual families who are falling prey to people who have something against the person, or think it is a funny way to get back at someone personally.  All these review sites, like Fave, Merchant Circle, yelp, etc, all have the same kinds of problems.

There are numerous flower shops located in our town , some of which are  located in their homes,  three true retail florists, and numerous florists who are located elsewhere but who deliver to our town.  I don’t object to someone using their favorite florist that delivers to Kirkland,  I deliver to Seattle and elsewhere, but every one of my customer’s knows what city I am located in, and just where I will deliver my work.  My customer’s actually call me to send flowers out of town because they trust me and they appreciate  my style, they know that I will do just as good of a job out of town as I do in town.   They also know that I always tell them up front if it is too far for me to deliver. I have friends in the business that will take care of it for “me”  and the wire service charges a fee.  It costs you the consumer  an additional 5-10 dollars for me to handle it nationally and you have my guarantee that if the other florist doesn’t carry it off to excellence, you can call me, and I can take care of it for you.  Call me, always, and I will “give” you the name of a local florist, just so you don’t fall prey to these bogus marketers! Call me on my 800 number if you are in the USA and I will find you a legitimate florist!

I am so happy that our local wire service “Teleflora” recently decided to terminate the membership of  this local online nationwide scam artist.   I am continuing the fight, and a group of florists have contacted the Senator in our state who wrote the original bill against deceptive advertising and we are pushing for a law that covers online advertising as well. I’m really tired of the deceptive advertising  and the harm to both the consumer and small business.   Wish us luck, I’ll keep you posted on the outcome.  If you have suggestions, please comment as well.

http://blumenthals.com/blog/2009/05/28/google-maps-guidelines-what-has-changed/ I just came across this on my Twitter account, and I can’t tell you how excited I am about these new changes to Google Maps! In fact if you could have been in the room when I read this article, you would have had to plug your ears due to my screaming and whooping!

Now if you haven’t had the unpleasure ( is that a word) of having a business, a brand, a reputation, something that you have put your life’s work into, maybe you won’t be as excited as me and other’s like me. This is the best news for small business, since Google began!

Let me recap it…life for me and thousands of other small business owners like me, had only one way to compete with large competitors, it was called an advertising budget. When we began, we had one, but it was small.  What can I say..smalll business, small ad budget.  Then came Google with their unique algorithms ( don’t ask me to explain, as I have no idea, how it works  cuz that is their job) but suddenly, people started becoming aware of our small family business across the world! How can you argue with a premise like that?

Until recently, it has worked amazing! I have been one of their biggest fans, since my girlfriend in California sent me a ” hey join this unknown gmail thing” when I  asked her why,  she said, because my brother works there and it is cool! I trust her, so I accepted her invitation to join gmail.

I’ve never been disappointed in Google until recently…  I really even hate saying that out loud.  But this new move by Google makes me so happy that they have found a solution to the problem that exists out there in Google maps land that I had to share it!  And thanks to the twitter buddy who shared it with me!

You can read the article above, and I won’t waste your time recapping it, but  I will share with you how it will impact me  and other small business owners like me immediately and why I am excited.

I have recently been a target of a competitor, and I am not alone in this quest, actually it has been happening for quite a while.  I think the economic downturn has helped all of us analyze our business plans, so we have been  looking at things we didn’t normally look at.  Recently,  I decided to Google my company name, and boy was I surprised!  I spent most of one evening looking well into the search results, maybe 40 or more  pages into the Google search results and I’m talking about spending the most of one evening looking at the results.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered tons of my business listings, with bogus phone numbers, bogus addresses, bad information, etc.. I just couldn’t figure out how this happened.  To make the long story shorter, let’s just say that I found out that a few competitors were going onto Google maps ( tech savvy ) folks, and changing business listings, and redirecting business to themselves with bogus numbers, websites and address listings.  One of my competitors even went into Safeway Stores listing and used the Safeway address ( so she could have a legitimate address in my city ) and changed their name to hers and the phone number to hers! Can you believe it!?  So she suddenly looks legitimate because she is in Kirkland, and she does have a business by the name she is using and the phone works.  This new effort by Google Maps is going to fix many of the problems and help the with the  internet integrity issues and I am so excited!

Google gets a HUGE applause from me and I am sure small business owners across this country and the world! I can tell you that Google has been the only person to act on the problem.  I know so many small business owners who have spent  tens of thousands of dollars in Attorney fees , sent numerous compaints to the State Attorney Generals, contacted state and local officials, even the local police.  Not one thing has happened until TODAY!  Google deserves a BIG APPLAUSE for stepping up to the plate to be the first to take a stand on the problem.