Southwest Digital Media and Mike Cravens Enter Wereviewed Hall of Shame
We don’t do this lightly.. In fact this is only the second time, but we’ve added Southwest Digital Media to our list of folks we’ll never do business with and also feel compelled to share that Hall of Shame designation.
Here’s what happened.
I was seeking an company to perform some off-page SEO.
I posted an advertisement on Craigslist looking for an SEO wizard. Numerous entrepreneurs responded and some were knowledgeable but the most seemingly sharp guy was Mike Cravens from Southwest Digital Media. I told him straight up that I was impressed with his knowledge and despite the fact that his quote was much higher than some of the offers I’d received, I was going to give Southwest Digital Media a chance for one month, but my goal was for a long term arrangement.
My biggest concern, which I expressed to both Mike and his sales guy, John Hogwood is that my goal was to engage someone to handle the off page SEO and get things done. I would evaluate the success based upon the number of people that found my site using the Google search engine. This seemed fairly straight forward to me.
Once I paid my bill for one month of service, I was bombarded with a series of administrative tasks that I needed to complete. Most were geared towards analyzing my site and tracking what turned out to be their complete lack of progress. They signed me up for trello.com, dropbox and created a todo list on trello.com. None of this stuff actually changed anything on my site, nor off site..
I Did Get Some Useful Information
Although not part of my agreement, I did spend quite a bit of time on the phone with Mike Cravens, who is extremely knowledgeable about all things SEO and he’s certainly willing to talk. and talk. He spent a lot of time telling me about his SEO success with a local attorney – who he may just be needing soom. 🙂 He also gave me some tips on tools and techniques, which I incorporated on my own in about 2 hours time. He recommended some plugins and websites that I used. This was great, but not what I was paying for.
Southwest Digital Media Dropped the Ball
From week one, I could see that these guys were disorganized. They requested the same information, such as login credentials multiple times despite the fact that they already had everything. They created deadlines for their ‘tasks’ on Trello.com, but they didn’t event meet their deadlines for most items.
They Didn’t Adjust
I saw what was going on early on. I called Mike and told him as directly as possible that I didn’t need reports, tracking sites, or other administrative tasks to do. What I needed was actions. Unfortunately, they did absolutely nothing related to improving the performance of my site. They didn’t change anything on my site, nor did they change anything off site. They did point a few things out, mostly before I agreed to hire them. All changes that occurred during the time that they were engaged, were actually done by me based on Mike’s input before I hired them. Specifically I added WordPress plugins that fixed the sitemaps, links and meta tags.
SCAMMERS OR INCOMPETENT?
To be honest, I really don’t know. But, either way, I will never hire Southwest Digital Media again.
UNABLE TO GET A REFUND
Before resorting to legal actions or writing this review, I contacted Mike and told him that I was dissatisfied with progress of Southwest Digital Media. I gave him multiple opportunities to start doing things to make the site more relevant. Nothing changed, so I told him I would like a refund. I even told him that I would accept a 50% refund and we can part as friends. I thought this was generous, but I felt like Mike Cravens had actually taught me a few things that I could use in the future and I thought if we could reach an agreement here, I would be interested in possibly using them in the future if I saw a situation more suited to Southwest Digital Media’s abilities.. They were not interested.. At one point, Mike offered me 100 dollars (out of the 35o) back if I promised to not write a negative review… I didn’t take it. 🙂
When I spoke with Mike Cravens and told him that I would initiate a Paypal dispute, he made it clear he had been down that road before. He said, “We’ve never lost a Paypal dispute”. Until I went through the process, I couldn’t understand how Southwest Digital Media would have any chance. But it turns out, that the invoice that Mike sent was so vague, that no one could really make sense of it. Although it was obvious to me that Southwest Digital Media had done none of the work, the did create some reports. I guess that was enough for Paypal. It’s hard to avoid using Paypal but the lesson here is that it’s important to make sure the invoice is clear in the performance specifications. Another lesson learned.