Appstar Financial Scam

Have you seen the rumors about Appstar Financial being a scam? After doing some research I have discovered the background story.

Starting in late 2009 the posts about Appstar being a scam started to surface on blogs, forums and even on some hiring portals.  But despite their A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, Appstar Financial has become a victim of the well-known “Company Name Scam” autocomplete problem with Google.com.  The problem manifests itself when a user goes to Google and starts to type the name of a product, service or company and then the “Google Suggest” provides options and auto complete suggestions based on what they “think” the user is looking for.  Google uses a complex algorithm based on similar searches of hundreds of thousands of users and begins to auto complete what they feel would be the most likely search phrases based on what the user has typed thus far.

An easy to demonstrate and HELPFUL example is the drop down appearing when you search for a certain product or model name of a product from a specific manufacturer.  Take a look at the attached image for the Google Suggest for “Canon Cam”. As you would expect, Google returns “cameras and camcorders” as part of the suggestion list to be helpful to the user.  In this instance, I think we would all agree that this is helpful to both the merchant and to the searcher.  Google has done its job of connecting an end user with the information that they are looking for.

Now I am going to demonstrate the auto complete feature where the displayed result is good for the consumer but can negatively impact the company.  K-Mart is an example. When running a search for the retail giant “K-Mart”, Google would suggest phrases like “K-Mart Coupons” or “K-Mart Discounts”. Even if the user had no intention of shopping with a coupon, Google displayed this as part of their suggestion. Now it may not seem like much, but providing easy access to online coupons is a way for e-commerce stores to gain new customers. The ease of access to these coupons has a measurable impact on company profits.  Online revenue increases improving overall profitability even if profitability is lower from coupons clients. No one feels bad for K-Mart or other mega corporations when the Google algorithms suggest discounts, but it does have an impact on profitability.

It’s not just mega corporations that have these issues.  Any search with a sufficient  quantity of unique searchers is vulnerable to this problem.  Matt Cutts, who is a key employee and head of the Web Spam team at Google has been called a scam online.  And because Google wants to show both sides of the story when you Google Matt Cutts name you will see that it says “Matt Cutts scam” as one of the options.

 

Google has been heavily criticized for allowing searches to be displayed on the drop down that were not substantiated with fact.  There was a major court case in France in which Google was been forced to remove the word scam from their listings.  Google defended their position by saying that it was “denied its liability due to the automatic nature of its Google Suggest function”. They simply stated that it was the software that determined what was displayed without human intervention even if there was no merit to Google adding “scam” to a company’s search results.

Now back to Appstar Financial scam complaints.

When you search the internet for “Appstar Financial scam” or “Appstar Financial rip off” you will find a number of sites that allow anonymous posting that have unhappy customers and ex-employee who posted reviews for Appstar Financial. The majority of these date back several years, which is not to say that all the complaints were invalid. But when you look into the allegations, it is mostly unsubstantiated venting of frustrations.   There were some reports of customers being charged cancellation fees for breaking their contracts early and that they did not understand what they were signing.  As the US economy began to tank in 2008/2009 and companies went out of business, it makes sense that frustrated business owners who were faced with normal and customary cancellation or termination fees all of a sudden called Appstar a scam.

The anonymity of the Internet is the perfect sounding board for venting personal frustrations and finding people who will sympathize with each other. However, Appstar Financial has is a major player in the credit card processing and merchant services world – their management team and customer service representatives work had to resolve any possible customer issues.  In the rare occasions where working through the company directly did not resolve the customer complaint, the BBB has stepped in to ensure the satisfaction of all those involved.   Appstar has maintained an A+ rating with the BBB and has resolved all claims regarding their business activities.

Appstar is a large company with hundred of sales reps and thousands of clients.  They have successfully resolved 184 of 184 complaints – this is a  testament to their exemplary customer service and their ability to resolve issues positively with frustrated clients.

Is Appstar a scam? Well, a few years ago when people were trying to save money at every turn, they did not read the agreements that they signed. If you trust the integrity of the BBB, it seems that many of the negative online reviews are unfounded and the ones with merit have been resolved.

A warning to everyone is if you are going to operate a business on the Internet, you have to carefully watch the results being displayed by Google, you never know what people will find when they search.

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