I am not defending or defaming anyone here, just adding perspective which is lacking on this board. This is a long post.
First, 29 has resellers and at least one reseller requires his reps to transfer every call to a compliance rep who asks word for word from a script, before charging the credit card and while recording the call, multiple questions including "Do you understand that 29 is an SEO company and not google" etc. It is probably true that they need to tighten up their procedures & crack the whip on some reps, as most telemarketing places do, but could they afford multiple office rents and reps, especially in the cities they do business in, if they had nothing to offer and no service?
Second, if you think that you can keep your small business on the front page of Google by yourself, forever, or by paying your kid with a whopper with cheese to do it, go ahead. See what happens when a competitor knocks you off there - then you'll be complaining they're a 'scam' too, right?
Google is THE search engine to be on, and every business on the earth with sense wants to be found on it. Its code updates every second of every day. You do not understand it: if you did you would have invented it and you'd be the billionaire instead of the dudes at Google. If you are not listed on the front page, you're relying on luck and referrals and 'happy thoughts'. If you're fine with that and don't want extra business, don't blame your own limits on someone else.
I know for a fact, having researched search result pages on Google maps for businesses, on pages 3-4-5 etc, that there are listings with bad phone numbers, disconnected, "oh they used to be the business but now it's my number" etc. Business people don't even bother to keep their obscure FREE listings current. Who is going to bother with going to another link, then to page 2 to find you, much less the page you happen to be on?
I know for a fact that the top listing in a major city's category of service provider, specializing in helping people with a certain well known disease who really need the help, is being monopolized by a company that doesn't even have a provider in the city where I was searching.
If I were the local provider buried on page 3, that would p*ss me off royally.
Do you really want Pizza Hut (different industry than mentioned above) to keep your pizza shop off the front page because they can afford sponsored links and national campaigns every day and you can't?
Since you're such a branding expert, why are you wasting time here? Don't you have customers to attend to? Guess not- you must have lots of free time on your hands.
Third, if you think most SEO companies and designers will work for you for free or for $50 a month, and produce a quality result, you are delusional. Should programmers work for free? One firm (not 29), which is highly ranked for SEO by an 'independent authority' on SEOs, quotes the following price:
Basic plan $3000-$4000 upfront or $350 month for 10 months
5 keyphrases on google guaranteed
They have other plans going up to $10, 000.
I have personally seen listings for $2500/month for SEO consulting gigs.
SEO has to be constantly refined. Either a mistake-prone human, who has to sleep eat drink pee and other, is doing it, or software is doing it, or both.
29 claims their software lets them do it better and that they have good techs still keeping an eye on it. I can't evaluate their programming prowess, but just because you are too broke to afford something doesn't mean it's a 'scam'. Maybe you should get a job, Mr. Missed-Call-Counting-Small-Business-Genius. We've had this thing for about 20 years now called VOICE MAIL, so you can catch calls you missed while you were playing Spider Solitaire over lunch.
Fourth, auto-dialers (which need constant tweaking) and boiler rooms and phone lists are always slightly out of date, and are always subject to complaints about "you guys have called me the last 2 weeks". Even Google and the phone directories frequently have incorrect business phone listings, as I know from experience. So if you have nothing to do but count your phone calls-- how is your lack of business the fault of a business you don't even know the name of until they tell you?
Maybe you need to actually brand yourself and get your business mindset out of the 18th century, back when you could afford to be 75th in line. No one but the phone book company cares about the (bleak) future of the phone book. And no one with actual common sense agrees with you that you don't need your business to be listed online where people can find you. If you have given up on your business, sad as that is, man up to it.
Fifth, someone should tell the psychotics -oops, I mean the small business owners out there who pick up the phone and tell the reps they're going to 'rape your wife' etc- that they should be the last persons representing their businesses. News flash: if I have to ask you to repronounce what you just said, you should get a professional phone answering service, or hire a speech communication graduate instead of your kid for that $8 an hour. Americans expect CLEAR VOICES answering the phone at all times not "who you caw fo?" And guess what, Miss Manager - you speaking for the owners saying 'they wouldn't want it', or refusing to pick up the phone, accomplishes zero.
Finally, regarding Do Not Call:
it is NOT ILLEGAL for businesses to call other businesses. There is NO REQUIREMENT to put businesses on the FTC's Do Not Call list.
From the FTC's website:
What is an Exempt Organization?
See DEFINITIONS, for a definition of Exempt Organization.
In general, your organization is not required to access the National Do Not Call Registry, and thus may access as an Exempt Organization, if one or more of the following is true:
(slightly truncated in the interest of time)... For example, a non-profit charitable organization may be an Exempt Organization, assuming, of course, that it is truly a non-profit. ...
... survey calls and political polling calls are not covered by the definition of "telemarketing" or "telephone solicitations." An organization that places ONLY these types of calls may be an Exempt Organization...
Your organization qualifies for one or more of the specific exemptions contained in the FTC's and FCC's rules, such as:
you only call to solicit charitable contributions; or
you only call consumers with whom you have an established business relationship; or
you only call consumers from whom you have received written permission to call; or
***you only make business-to-business calls.***
...Business-to-Business Calls, Unless They Involve the Sale of Nondurable Office or Cleaning Supplies
Most phone calls between a telemarketer and a business are exempt from the Rule. But business-to-business calls to induce the retail sale of nondurable office or cleaning supplies are covered. Examples of nondurable office or cleaning supplies include paper, pencils, solvents, copying machine toner, and ink — in short, anything that, when used, is depleted, and must be replaced.
Such goods as software, computer disks, copiers, computers, mops, and buckets are considered durable because they can be used again.
Although sellers and telemarketers involved in telemarketing sales to businesses of nondurable office or cleaning supplies must comply with the Rule’s requirements and prohibitions,
*****the Rule specifically exempts them from the recordkeeping requirements and from the National Do Not Call Registry provisions. ***
These sellers and telemarketers do not have to create or keep any particular records, or purge numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry from their call lists to comply with the Rule.
Most Calls Responding to General Media Advertising
The Rule generally does not apply to consumer calls made in response to general media advertising, including: television commercials; infomercials; home shopping programs; print advertisements in magazines, newspapers, the Yellow Pages, or similar general directories; radio ads; banner ads on the Internet; and other forms of mass media advertising and solicitation.
...If a consumer tells one division of a company not to call again, a distinct corporate division of the same company may make another telemarketing call to that consumer.
...Do Not Call Safe Harbor
If a seller or telemarketer can establish that as part of its routine business practice, it meets the following requirements, it will not be subject to civil penalties or sanctions for erroneously calling a consumer who has asked not to be called, or for calling a number on the National Registry:
the seller or telemarketer has established and implemented written procedures to honor consumers’ requests that they not be called.
the seller or telemarketer has trained its personnel, and any entity assisting in its compliance, in these procedures.
the seller, telemarketer, or someone else acting on behalf of the seller or charitable organization has maintained and recorded an entity-specific Do Not Call list.
the seller or telemarketer uses, and maintains records documenting, a process to prevent calls to any telephone number on an entity-specific Do Not Call list or the National Do Not Call Registry. This, provided that the latter process involves using a version of the National Registry from the FTC no more than 31 days before the date any call is made.
the seller, telemarketer, or someone else acting on behalf of the seller or charitable organization monitors and enforces compliance with the entity’s written Do Not Call procedures.
the call is a result of error. "
Keep whining and blogging though: that'll get customers flyin' in!