Wed August 8, 2012 12:09pm
One customer, Tony Gelme, who has been diagnosed with oesophagal cancer, said he was charged for a second year even though he asked to cancel his contract. Gelme, who claims Publicity Monster's services to him were "meaningless and ineffective", said the company charged him anyway and only cancelled his contract after he provided "a letter from my GP confirming the diagnosis". It still refuses to offer him a refund.
Sabre says the onus is on customers to read the terms and conditions but Fairfax Media could only find them by navigating deep into the site and pasting an obscure URL into a new browser window.
Customers who have refused to pay for what they regard as inadequate service say they have been harrassed by the company, which has also sent debt collectors after some clients and threatened others with the suspension of their Google Local listing if they don't pay up.
Fairfax Media spoke in detail to nine customers of Publicity Monster and many would not talk publicly out of fear of legal action.
The company has previously threatened legal action against customers who have left negative reviews online, and in at least two cases discovered by Fairfax Media it only offered a refund to clients if their comments were removed.
Sabre was unapologetic about this apparent blackmail, saying "we keep their privacy in our transactions [with them] and we expect the customer to do the same". "Anything that's [published that's] negative ... they’re more than welcome to [be] put on[line] ... [but] if it's something that is illegal where they've put in their personal opinion about what we do and how we do it, we look at it [and] we send it to our lawyers," he said.