In mid-August, a Hays, Kansas, coffee shop was listed by Google Places and Google Maps as “permanently closed” despite the fact that the business was thriving, according its owner.
Coffee Rules Lounge, located not far from Interstate 70, was apparently the latest victim of a new tactic by other business owners to drive traffic — online and in-person — away from competitors, according to a recent New York Times report.
“I’d say that it was in June that we started to see a big uptick in complaints about this in online forums,” Linda Buquet of Catalyst eMarketing in San Marcos, Calif., told the Times. “It might be that a number of consultants are now offering services like ‘nuke your competitor’ in Google Places. But it could just be a competitor, acting alone.”
Google remains mum on how it reviews whether to permanently close businesses on its popular online applications, but the review process begins with normal users reporting a business as closed. The result, the report suggested, is that perfectly healthy businesses such as Coffee Rules Lounge have been virtually closing throughout recent weeks, sometimes for days, sometimes even for weeks.
For the full story: New York Times