Let Me Show You How Online Reputation Really Works, Mr. New Orleans Computer Repair Guy!

For you, Mr. New Orleans Computer Repair Guy, also known as French Quarter Repair Services and iPhone or iPod Repairman:

You returned my Mac Airbook in worse condition than it was before. That’s bad business. You charged me more than the agreed upon amount and wouldn’t return my possessions until I paid for it. That’s extortion. You call yourself a certified technician; in my estimation, you’re nothing more than a scam artist. Then you advertise SEO on your site. Mister now you’ve really messed up.

Photo credit: Frank Benson

For our readers: You might say, after reading this article, “Wow, Gabriella, isn’t this a little vindictive?” To which I respond, “Yes, and no.” I dislike scam artists. It pisses me off when someone screws people out of their hard-earned money. It pisses me off even more when these people have my industry plastered on their site. Then, it becomes one more piece of coal to fire, fueling stories about bad optimizers. You can be sure this guy treats his SEO customers just as well as his computer repair customers.

I’m going to do my very best to make sure this one, at least, has an online reputation that reflects his lack of professionalism and honesty. –And my best is very good. Call it a lesson in reputation management.

French Quarter Repair Services? I Don’t Think So…

You’d reasonably think that someone like me, working online with computers, dealing with people all day long and buried in search, could figure out how to get their computer fixed. Right? That’s what I figured, anyway, but I was wrong.

Yes I'm happy :)

If you follow me in social circles, then you know I just recently bought an AirBook. I was thrilled to have this little cuteness in my arsenal of electronic toys and gadgets. It was supposed to be my traveling companion.

So, when I loaned it to my partner, who accidentally dropped coffee on the keyboard (a whole other point of irritation), we quickly searched for a certified Mac technician in New Orleans. My AirBook needed emergency care, and I was going to make sure it went to the best computer doctor around. There aren’t many of them; I think we found two.

My partner spoke to the man we chose, who quoted $100 for a diagnostic “and we’ll service it right away”. Not a problem. She drove the hour to New Orleans. While there, she asked to verify if he was an Apple certified technician, and was told that he was. This is important, because Apple says the Macs need to be taken care of by certified technicians.

She dropped it off, paid the $100 and then waited for the shop to call back. This is how the process is supposed to go, right? I mean… reasonable expectations being what they are?

Mr. New Orleans Computer Repair Guy Calls Back…

We’re told the $980 AirBook I bought will take $450 for a new motherboard and an additional $250 for labor. There’s no way, little cuteness be damned, that I’m going to spend almost as much for repair as it cost to buy it fresh out of the box. We told him “no, thank you,” and that one of us would pick it up Monday.

Everything happened like a normal business transaction should. In my mind, this means he just puts the computer back the way it was, closes it up and calls it a day. However, when my partner showed up to pick up the computer, the owner of the shop is out, and the salesman tells her he can’t release the computer to her until the shop owner gets back. Odd – we were told we could pick it up any time.

It Was Love At First Sight

He also told her he spoke with the owner, who said the computer was still opened, had special diagnostics equipment in it, and he needed to get the stuff out. She calls me and informs me she has to hang out in New Orleans until the shopkeeper comes back in the afternoon; she didn’t want to drive an extra two hours for a second trip.

“Tell the guy we want our computer back, and don’t want to wait for the owner,” I told her. After all, again, we were told we could pick it up any time.

There I was, listening to the conversation through the phone lines, and hearing it escalate into an argument. My partner threatened to call the police if the owner did not, at the very least, get on the phone with her to address why she had to wait during business hours. And here’s where it got really…messed… up…

What?

The salesman came from the back of the shop, with my Airbook still open, an hour later. He told her the owner was back (who she had yet to see), but she needed to pay an additional $50 in order to get the computer. When asked how he could charge more than Apple, he said, “I can charge a hundred thousand million dollars, if I want.” On hindsight, I’m glad I wasn’t there. Someone would have ended up calling 911 to report a whole series of violent crimes being committed.

Why were we being charged an additional $50? Apparently, there’s a policy stating that you owe a $50 fee (on top of the initial $100, mind you) if you decide not to use their services. There has to be that policy, because the salesman said there was, and that it was stated on their tech support page. It isn’t.

Seriously?

When I got my computer back, I have to tell you, it was a sad sight. My poor Airbook looked completely beaten. It still had big drops of coffee on the inside (so there’s no way he cleaned like he said), and there was a brand new dent on the corner.

The Reviews – Too Little, Too Late

A lesson, here; always check the online reviews. I know that – hell, I push having people review your products. I didn’t think about it. If I had, I’d most likely have my computer back, it’d be clean, and … oh yeah… working. Reviews for French Quarter Computer Services New Orleans on Yelp are plain nasty. One reviewer says, “This place changes names when their reviews get too bad. They have 7 BBB complaints and didn’t even bother to respond to 1 of them.  If it’s anywhere near the 1900 block of St. Claude DO NOT GO!!”

Evidently not cleaned

I dug further. CitySearch reviews for French Quarter Computer Services are more positive. Two of them have five stars. How… interesting. Unfortunately, one of them is written by FQComputer who, in another review, says their business is French Quarter Computers. Guess where French Quarter Computers points to? (Kudzu has one person giving them five stars, but no written review. Hmmm… wonder who did that?)

Digging even further finds the iPod Repair Man site, which claims to be a subsidiary of… drum roll please… New Orleans Computer Repair. ACD Computers in Covington? Yes, that’s him, too. I’m not absolutely positive, but Apple Repair New Orleans also appears to be the same guy, if you go by the footer links in this tech forum profile.

The fact that this guy advertises data recovery services makes me shudder…

Online Reputation Management – Lesson #1

This has been wiped with alcohol?

I want to expose this crook for what he is: a con man. Now, by looking at the reviews, it’s obvious the man has some idea of how reputation and recommendations work on Google. Otherwise, why post false reviews to bump up your stars, right?

You know… this is what I do for a living. We help clients with their reputations, their online presence, website, branding, and optimization. With this article, I wavered on whether to expose him publicly on our company blog, because I don’t want people to get the idea that we’re anything other than professional.

However, while I must profess a tad bit of malicious glee, I’m also greatly concerned about this individual’s business practices. Why? Because:

  • he “runs” at least four companies
  • he advertises his services as covering at least six cities
  • he advertises several different services under separate operational names (iPod Repair Man, ACD Computers, Apple Repair New Orleans, Devious Designs)
  • New Orleans Computer Repair AKA French Quarter Computer Services is listed under at least three different addresses in various local directories
  • he knows enough to at least “try” to bury bad reviews and could one day be successful

WTF did you use?

Concerned enough, in fact, to share this story with you, our readers.

I’m going to call the BBB and add yet another negative mark against his “F” rating, but I know that’s not going to do much good. What does help – what will help, is social media.

I’m posting this article on our site, with our site’s authority pushing it. I’m going to share it across my social accounts. I’m going to ask everyone I know to retweet, Like, Share and otherwise forward to a friend. I’m going to do my best to get this page pushed so far up in the SERPs that it outranks his own site. I want people to see this page before they ever get to his site; just in case they forget to check for reviews.

Mr. New Orleans Computer Repair Guy, rule #1 of reputation management is: Don’t screw your customers over. They can get online and talk about it.

About Gabriella Sannino

International SEO consultant is my title...but who cares about those? What I love is, writing about marketing, social, SEO, relevance, ruffling feathers and starting revolutions. What you read on this blog, will hopefully inspire you to continue the conversation. When I'm not multitasking around Level343 I sneak away and go sailing. I'm crazy about pistachios, and of course Nutella.

Comments

  1. Indeed, especially when we can outrank them. ;) Enjoy your holidays and stay warm!

  2. I am so sorry, Gabriella, that you had such a terrible experience. It is bad enough when your computer breaks. Worse is to get it back in the condition you described. And holding people hostage is so wrong!! Social media makes us feel less helpless against crooks like that.

  3. Thanks Anthony, that’s very sweet of you. Happy Holidays to you and yours!
    PS I love our online community you guys rock!

  4. That’s exactly what this guy has been skating on. Seriously, this guy is the epitome of online sleaze. Thanks Doc, we love your support. :*

  5. Hello Susan, thanks for the support. I rarely ask for help from the SEO community to rally against a business. It was a tough call for me as a business owner and social media user. I know the power social media can yield. I also know it can be abused. I’m not going to say I have a huge amount of “pull”, but as we both know, it doesn’t take much to leverage social when you have a strong foundation, years in the industry and a respected list of followers, such as yourself and your team. I almost feel like standing up and singing “we are family”.
    All of this guy’s tricks of switching accounts when the recommendations get too much for him, changing his business name, opening new websites… this guy deserves the award for Douche Bag of 2011. The more I read about him on the Internet and the more I uncover, the more I realize I’m doing the right thing – all this with a little help from my friends. Thank you, and happy holidays to you and team Hallam.

  6. Bravo for you for writing up your experience with this charlatan, Gabriella, and I’m happy to do all I can to promote your story to the top of the SERPS.

    I have also had a rather nasty encounter with a company that was tarnishing the SEO profession, and by going through the same process as you bounced him out of the search results.

    http://www.hallaminternet.com/blog/2011/04/mouse2design-infringement-of-copyright.html

  7. (…) rule #1 of reputation management is: Don’t screw your customers over. They can get online and talk about it.

    Funny thing is that last year it was actually pretty successful tactic for “Decor My Eyes” ;) Fortunately it doesn’t work anymore.

  8. It’s sad to think that a guy can get away with this kind of crap! He probably assumes that most people will bitch about it, and not come back, but that’s it.
    Methinks he’s miscalculated badly, this time. ;)
    I’ll be sharing this with all my contacts as well, Gabs.

  9. Wow. Judging by your post, the extent of the SEO services he offers people is to create 5 new keyword rich company names for them and plaster them across a few reviews sites.

    Nice job writing this post. I will tweet it and hopefully help you push it to the top of the SERPs. Also, nice job not linking to his website.

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