Wednesday, 01 May 2013 14:41

Anonymous 'Testimonials' Aren’t Worth the Paper They Are Written On

Now we know that Debt Collection and Debt Recovery don’t have the best reputation in business markets, this is one of the reasons we take pride in displaying a small selection of the hundreds of client testimonials we have received over the last 30 years over on our testimonials page.

Nothing usual in that you may be thinking, but have you noticed that unlike some other agencies all of our references are clearly attributable to both a named company and an individual within that company?

So why do we do this?  Well the answer is simple, as with all of our business dealings we pride ourselves on our honesty and transparency.  We don’t believe any company in any industry should use anonymous or unnamed testimonials.

Lets take a look at a few examples, first off one of the testimonials from a long standing client available on our Testimonials page.

In the 20 plus years that I have dealt with Safe Collections, whilst working at The Creative Haus and my previous employers, Imagehaus and AGL, I have always found their service to be professional, accurate and with a fast response.

I have used them for credit checks and to secure money on bad debt and they have always succeeded and totally taken the strain of dealing with these difficult situations in their stride.

I can recommend them whole heartedly for their professional, friendly and fast service.

Liz Smythson - Director

The CreativeHaus Ltd

Now everyone can clearly see both the name of the individual and also the name of the company that supplied the testimonial.  This gives complete clarity and transparency as anyone can independently research both the individual and the company involved.  Easy.

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Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy

Now lets have a look at some other companies shall we?  For this example we have used businesses in our own industry (who shall remain nameless).

The first site we visited had a very nice looking testimonials page, with what appeared to be pictures of smiling happy customers.  Comments included:

Steve Cooper Finance Director - Investment Firm

"We've used other means of trying to collect our debts and we can categorically state that ThisCo have been by far the most impressive."

Lucy Dawson Senior Credit Controller - UK Tyre Manuf.

"This Co came highly recommended to us. 2 years on and we are the ones now doing the recommending. First class service with first class results." 

So what is the problem?  Well first of all, whilst we have an individual attributed to the comment, the ecstatically happy client company have declined to be named.

This begs the question of who exactly gives a glowing testimonial, but refuses to put their name on it?

If that wasn’t enough a quick image search using TinEye shows that far from being images of happy customers, these images are in fact widely used stock commercial images.

So we have an un-attributable testimonial, coupled with stock photos.  This is the company equivalent of:

It’s a great service, I use it all the time.

Dave Smith

The Pub, last night.

In fact on this site, none of the dozen or so testimonials on our first test subject have any real information in them at all.

Just one bad apple?

Unfortunately that doesn’t appear to be the case…  Our next subject trades under a different name to our previous example and is ostensibly an entirely different company.

But strangely Lucy Dawson appears to have changed her name somewhere along the way as this company has exactly the same testimonial!

"This Co came highly recommended to us. 2 years on and we are the ones now doing the recommending. First class service with first class results."

Emma Thompson

Senior Credit Controller - UK Tyre Manufacturer

Now, we can’t say for certain that Lucy Dawson wasn’t replaced by Emma Thompson at this particular UK Tyre Manufacturer. Similarly we can’t say for certain that Emma Thompson did not in fact just recycle her colleague’s earlier (and now outdated) testimonial.

But what we can say is that again the image of that happy smiling customer, is in fact, yet another stock photo.

Now call us old fashioned, but we do not think that re-using the same testimonial for a different company is ethical or helpful and the ASA would appear to support us.  If you have a look over at the Committee of Advertising Practice page here it clearly states:

Endorsements and Testimonials

3.45        Marketers must hold documentary evidence that a testimonial or endorsement used in a marketing communication is genuine, unless it is obviously fictitious, and hold contact details for the person who, or organisation that, gives it.

So next time you see a testimonial on a website that doesn’t ring true, why not ask the company in question for the contact information on the person or company who supplied the testimonial.

If the company in question can’t or won’t supply the details, then you may want to consider making a complaint to the ASA and carefully consider if you want to do business with them at all.

Update:  Lucy Dawson and Emma Thompson sure do get around, we have now found exactly the same now completely un-named testimonials on a site operating from Texas in the USA! 

Marketing. Fail.

Over 150 Years Of Industry Experience

Our modest but highly skilled team has a combined total of over 150 years of experience in commercial credit management and B2B debt collection. From independent IT contractors to major film and TV publishers, Safe Collections has the knowledge and experience you need to get paid quickly and cost effectively.

Image by flickr user Zigazou76 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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