updatedWhitePages has appear a adaptable appliance on the BlackBerry Bold that, amidst added things, lets you awning admission callers to see who they are afore you answer. For example, it lets you see if a addition is a telemarketer by blockage the cardinal adjoin its database of profiles (video audience here). It will hunt on added BlackBerry models soon.
More on the air-conditioned app in a sec. First, though, that the company’s appear a call-screener is ironic, because White Pages itself has somewhat arguable approach aback it comes to marketing.
The clandestine aggregation took in $66 actor in acquirement aftermost year, up from $62 actor the year before, we’re hearing. A competitor, Intelius took in $123 actor aftermost year, up from $88 million, our sources say. There’s bags of money actuality made, apparently. How?
White Pages lets you acquisition out all kinds of advice about people. Its hunt account is free, the aggregation brand to say. For example, it offers things like a chargeless about-face buzz book service, i.e., absolution you put in a buzz cardinal to hunt for the I.D. of the actuality owning the buzz number. But for abounding searches, “free” takes on addition meaning.
For example, say you hunt for advice on a actuality alleged “Pam Weiners.” Aback beat on the after-effects for “Pam Weiners,” you’re eventually directed to a folio that asks you pay $1.95 to analysis the report. Let’s say you’re accessible to pay. Even then, you get befuddled into a agrarian goose chase. You bang to ample out some acclaim agenda information, but it takes you to a folio that offers you a $10 banknote aback accolade on your aing purchase. Well, alone afterwards account some accomplished book do you see it will allegation you $12 per ages on your acclaim card. At the basal of the page, a big “Yes” on lures you. Actuality clever, you attending about the folio and annal bottomward and assuredly acquisition the baby chantry diction “no thanks, not appropriate now.” But if you bang on it, you get addition offer. This happens two added times. It’s acutely absurd to get to the advice you paid for. Finally, on the third attempt, if you accomplish it that far, you ability apprehension a “view report” on to the larboard amidst ample noise, and can again admission it — but its far easier to abide on the loop. I approved it out with several names. A brace of times, aback I clicked “no thanks,” the account artlessly took me to an absurdity folio (see screenshots below).
I talked with John Lusk, agent for WhitePages, and he acclimatized the convenance but said it was offered by a third affair aggregation alleged US Search. I looked at the pages, and they do accept US Hunt branding, but I was never absolutely a at the alpha that I was actuality transferred to the third-party page. Lusk says that’s about to change, and that the aggregation this anniversary launched a new adaptation of its armpit to a tenth of its users that makes it abundant clearer US Hunt is not the aforementioned company. He said it’s allotment of above rebranding accomplishment by the aggregation to accomplish abiding it restores assurance with users. It will be absolutely formed out by June. However, the redirects will still happen. And WhitePages is stuck: The aggregation is array of absorbed to the money it gets from US Hunt for administering it the traffic. It gets paid for every bang through to the US Hunt page, and that assets is abundant added advantageous than the announcement WhitePages gets to its own services.
Of course, this comes at a time aback a adversary alleged Intelius is accepting dinged for agnate practices. Aftermost month, there was a continued allotment in the Seattle Weekly analogue some post-transaction accuse that Intelius barter were accepting hit with appliance the aforementioned small-print tactics. TechCrunch additionally additionally ran a allotment about it. There’s no charge for me to alike all the acceptable analysis performed by the Weekly. But here’s what happened aback I approved out Intelius. Afterwards bushing out the acclaim agenda information, I was presented with an action absolute agnate to the one acclimatized to me over at White Pages/US Search, with a big “yes” on adorable me to get it. But Intelius was at atomic bright about banishment me into a footfall by accepting me accede I was about to pay $19.95 per ages on my acclaim card. It additionally let me accept no and did so afterwards sending me through the connected loop. So in my book, Intelius is absolutely no worse than WhitePages. Intelius said isn’t talking to the media, because it is its “quiet period” afore activity public.
Last week, VentureBeat appear that Intelius has acquired Spock.com, and I had a adventitious to allocution to Spock.com architect Jaideep Singh about Intelius’ practice. He argued that all business sites, including Amazon, and biking sites, try to array articles afterwards you’ve purchased article and that best users accept become acclimatized to blockage the small-print. He said he saw annihilation amazing about Intelius.
[Update: Well, Naveen Jain, Intelius’ arch executive, did acknowledge afterwards all: “We at Intellius affliction a lot about our users and the affectionate of casework we accommodate them, that’s the acumen we alone action the best affection services, and do not adumbrate abaft addition aggregation that may be appliance ambiguous practices.”]
Here’s area things stand: Intelius processes 3 actor affairs a year and has had 890 complaints over those three years lodged at the Bigger Business Bureau — however, those complaints accept aback allegedly been bankrupt or resolved. Amazon, by comparison, a abundant beyond company, has about 2,400 complaints. In added words, admitting chump complaints by a minority, the all-inclusive majority of bodies assume to be putting up with these practices.
Back to WhitePages. It afresh addled a affiliation acceding with MSN.com, demography it abroad from Intelius. So now you can do accomplishments checks on bodies through MSN.com by beat on “White Pages,” and the action takes you through the exact aforementioned action as you’d go through on WhitePages — accepting taken to US Hunt and acclimatized the connected come-off if you appetite to abstain advantageous added fees. (That’s the archetype I’ve apparent below).
[Update: Intelius’ Jain additionally had article to say about this: “The actuality is, MSN users are still actuality subjected to these ambiguous practices done by their partners. Accepting a aggregation adumbrate abaft a altered company, adage these ambiguous practices are actuality done by a altered aggregation does not booty abroad its albatross to users.]
So aback to the WhitePages app for the BlackBerry. It’s absolutely absolute cool. Unlike the app appear for the iPhone in October, this appliance is able to accommodate itself into the absolute accouterments of the BlackBerry buzz — this way, it is agnate to the WhitePages appliance afresh appear for the Android. However, the Android app aloof offers caller-ID. BlackBerry lets you do more, such as cull numbers from your call-log and attending up advice about the number-owners. If you get an admission alarm from addition who isn’t in your abode book, the app can ping the WhitePages database and acquisition out if it’s a telemarketer. Or, if you choose, you can add the person’s name and added advice to your acquaintance account automatically. You can additionally use it to do aggregation hunt — entering a company’s name with a person’s aftermost name — to acquisition their buzz number, abode and added information. You can get maps and admonition too. You pay $6.99 for six months of service. I anticipate this is great, because it gives WhitePages a antecedent of acquirement that is absolute of advertising, and so maybe it will advice it ambit itself from the scam-like affiliation with US Search. Bigger yet, the account is opt-in, acceptation you won’t get answerable $6.99 automatically afterwards six months.
[Update 2: WhitePages arch controlling Alex Algard responded with the afterward statement: “I anticipate that the banderole and accession of your adventure is unfair. WhitePages does not do accomplishments checks, and we do not do post-transaction marketing. Some companies do, but we accept called to not appoint in that practice. End of adventure on that. Furthermore, I do not anticipate it is fair to accusation WhitePages for what ability potentially appear on the websites of third-party websites, who acquaint not alone on WhitePages.com, but additionally added sites like Google and MSN, abnormally aback we accomplish it bright to users that they are beat on sponsored ads. You included 8 screenshots, of which two are WhitePages-powered web pages. In your screenshot example, we accomplish it bright to the users that they are beat on ‘sponsored’ ad links. If you appetite to accomplish an affair of post-transaction marketing, I do not anticipate that you are acrimonious on the appropriate company.”]
[Update 3: I’m activity to stop updating. The altercation continues in comments below.]
Below are screenshots of the WhitePages-US Hunt bewilderment — they abide afterwards the jump.
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