Wed August 8, 2012 12:09pm
Tim Sabre lives the high life on riches earned by promising he can get you on Google's front page. But he's left behind a string of dissatisfied customers and may now face losing his Google accreditation.
As his Ferrari and swish apartment overlooking Collaroy Beach in NSW can attest, the tech boom has been kind to Sabre. The 39-year-old tried - and failed - to take on Apple with coloured iMac look-alikes during the dotcom boom, but he hopped on a path to riches after founding Publicity Monster in 2006.
The company cold calls businesses promising to get them in the top 7 rankings on Google Local for a keyword of their choice, but in many cases doesn't deliver results and has both harassed and threatened those who complain with legal action or suspension, customers and former staff say. If it fails to achieve desired results it often attempts to change a customer's chosen keyword to a far inferior one that is easier to rank.
Publicity Monster was a bold move by a man who has perfected the art of self promotion. He boasts his attempt to take on Apple "became international news overnight" and claims on his gossip blog Bitch Pleaz to have administered former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's official Facebook page (denied by Rudd's spokesman).
Sabre has worked as a party promoter and in 2008 he attracted national press for claiming to have offered the once-notorious party boy Corey Worthington a $10,000 contract to join his team. In 2007 he led a campaign to ban the "shuffle" dance style in clubs.
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The substance of those claims may certainly be questioned but under no doubt is the level of complaints against Publicity Monster. In NSW alone 28 claims have been lodged against the company in the past two years in the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal, while a further 6 have been lodged in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. It is understood consumer protection authorities in NSW and Victoria are also investigating the firm following dozens of complaints.