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Mediate.com

Mediation.com Exposed

by Shannon Balk
November 2015

Also see: "BBB Complaints Against Mediation.com"

Shannon Balk
The following is the account of my experience with Mediation.com. Writing this is a bit cathartic and I apologize in advance for the length. It is my sincere hope that these efforts in exposing this sham of a company will be successful, saving others from Mediation.com's fraudulent practices and gross misrepresentations.

Also see "Reported Complaints About Mediation.com"

I was first contacted by Mediation.com in mid-July this year, having blindly answered an incoming call on my work cell phone. The representative, Betsy, engaged me in conversation regarding the Mediation.com directory. I was admittedly curious, as I had just started my private mediation practice. At the time, I was considering signing on with Mediate.com and told Betsy my plans, and was quickly warned by Betsy of the insufficiencies of Mediate.com. She then went on to "demo" how well Mediation.com was optimized for web searches and walked me through many search examples in which Mediation.com would show at the top of search results. Betsy repeatedly referenced an association with Google and when I asked if Mediation.com and Google were affiliates, Betsy was unable to provide a clear answer. Betsy definitely had a high pressure sales approach, and was pressing me to sign up immediately. I insisted on taking a week to review their site and consider my options.

In the interim, I repeatedly attempted several of my own searches for mediators in my area, and could not replicate Mediation.com showing at the top of search results as Betsy had shown me. When Betsy called me back, she explained that my search attempts were unsuccessful because I didn't "search for services the way 'most' people do." I asked how many mediators in the metro Phoenix area were customers/members of Mediation.com and Betsy indicated that ALL of the mediators listed in the search results for a given city were members, but just a lower level member than I would be as I would be featured on several pages for my paid membership. After more high pressure sales tactics, promises of "free" add-ons, promises of a monthly website analytic/diagnostic report, a comprehensive "welcome" call and walk-through of Mediation.com, and assurance that I could cancel my membership if I was not satisfied, I finally agreed to sign up for two years for $999. I was assured I would receive a contract or terms of service, including the cancellation policy, along with my receipt for payment. No contract was received.

After signing up, Mediation.com quickly became a source of mild amusement to me due to the comedy of errors that ensued. I was sent the same "welcome" email from Betsy on three occasions, with one email indicating an incorrect name in the salutation. Thomas Pronesti sent me an email indicating my listings were active and suggested I click a link to view my listings; the link was not included in the email. No one scheduled my comprehensive walk-through call. I did not receive any analytic/diagnostic reports.

When three months had passed I reviewed my Google Analytics report to find that mediation.com was not a significant source of leads to my website. I'd received just two calls from two unconverted leads that I could potentially link back to Mediation.com (the leads could not recall how they found my information and ultimately were seeking legal advice for free which I could not offer), and since virtually none of the promises made had been fulfilled, I decided that I had given Mediation.com a fair shot. I sent an email to request cancellation of my services and received a rather terse email from Mr. Pronesti indicating I would receive a call from Lee Rough to discuss my request. (I was surprised there was no indication of concern that I was considering leaving or was a dissatisfied customer.)

After a week had passed since Mr. Pronesti's promise of a call from Mr. Rough, I made a call to settle the issue. I spoke with Mr. Rough who immediately indicated I was obviously impatient given he has 6,000 customers and wondered aloud why I felt I deserved expedited service. He then set off on a tirade made up partially of a sales pitch and coupled with insults regarding the quality of my business website and my knowledge of online marketing. When I politely interrupted (after allowing Mr. Rough to speak for about 4-5 minutes), Mr. Rough became belligerent. Among the offensive and attacking comments he stated that I was "just a typical difficult woman" who was too ignorant to understand the delicate complexities of Mediation.com. I patiently explained that I was having better success with other lead sources and Mr. Rough began yelling at me, indicating that he was a key player in the Google start-up and challenged how I could possibly know or recognize a quality lead. When I suggested that a quality lead is one which converts to business and Mr. Rough became explosive, saying that I should consider myself fortunate to have received two possible calls in three months and stated that the lack of conversion was obviously due to my lack of mediation and general business skills. (This was then followed by a short dissertation of Mr. Rough's view of mediation which was almost laughable.)

Despite being quite shaken by Mr. Rough's erratic behavior, I remained calm and firm in my request to cancel my membership and stated that I wanted a prorated refund. I made it clear that a contract outlining terms of cancellation had not been sent, nor was it clearly outlined on the Mediation.com website, so I would accept nothing less than a prorated refund. After stating he'd be happy to be rid of me as a customer as my expectations were far too high, Mr. Rough then offered me a "lifetime membership" for no additional cost (suggesting that I would need to change my behavior and that we could "put this whole ugly situation behind us,") OR a refund of $500. My prorated refund should have been approximately $874, but I took the $500 offer happily. To be rid of Mediation.com, and Mr. Rough and his abuse was well worth $275. I have never in my life been treated so poorly by a representative of a company and am thankful that I will no longer be associated with such an unscrupulous operation. Ultimately, I was thrilled to receive this email from Mr. Pronesti (the original email having bold print and yellow highlighted text):

We have issued a refund to you today for $499.50

PLEASE BE ADVISED:

We have deleted all your listings on our sites and you will now lose all Google rankings including all the page 1 back links to your personal web site. All keywords and search results for your listing are now also deleted as well as all Google Page 1 rankings which you had been receiving from us.You also will no longer receive any email inquires [sic]from us.

I'm surprised he didn't also state that he was going to tell his mom on me. ;)

All kidding aside, it is my sincere hope, Mr. Melamed, that your efforts in exposing this sham of a company will be successful, saving others from Mediation.com's fraudulent practices and gross misrepresentations.

Kind regards,

Shannon Balk
All About You Legal Services

Biography


Shannon Balk is a mediator, certified legal document preparer and paralegal located in Gilbert, Arizona. Shannon Balk is certified by the Arizona Supreme Court as a Legal Document Preparer (certificate #81612) and is the owner of All About You Legal Doc Prep, LLC (certificate #81613) which does business as All About You Legal Services. Extensively trained in the mediation field, Shannon also offers mediation services to those facing conflict. As a certificated paralegal, Shannon offers her talents to solo attorneys and small law firms in need of a contract paralegal, and is a notary public for the state of Arizona. A volunteer at heart, Shannon provides pro bono services through various Maricopa County Courts, as well as volunteering with the Wills For Heroes organization.

Shannon’s professional memberships include:

  • Association for Conflict Resolution
  • Maricopa County Association of Family Mediators
  • Maricopa County Bar Association
  • Arizona Paralegal Association

Outside of her professional pursuits, Shannon is wife to undoubtedly the best man alive, and mom/bonus mom to three amazing and uncommonly attractive children. She is an active volunteer in the community, giving her time to several educational and extracurricular groups.



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