You know the old adage, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is?” Well, I can confirm. And, I have no one to blame but myself (and my ego). Learn from my tale of woe. It’s a bit of a story so settle in for the shit show. Here’s how I was (almost) scammed out of THOUSANDS of dollars.
The day after I was a guest speaker on the podcast of a local social media expert I received a phone call. Initially, I ignored it because it was a New York number. I REALLY should have listened to my gut. After a few hours of work, I noticed that I had a voicemail. It was a woman from Podcast Business News Network inviting me to participate in a FREE (Red Flag #1) 5 minute podcast on TuneIn Radio. They are affiliated with I Heart Radio and Pandora. I did a quick Google search and everything seemed on the up and up.
Flattery will get you everywhere, apparently.
I called back and asked how they heard about me and my business. The answer was vague, (Red Flag #2) they had a team that researched unique business concepts. Flattered, I agreed to the interview. Quickly, I was flipped to scheduling and a slot was booked for the next day. An email was sent with questions that would be asked by the host on air. After I filled out the questionnaire I received an email confirming my session but it was for the wrong date (Red Flag #3).
I sent an email to their “support team” indicating that they sent me an appointment for the incorrect day and time. Radio silence. No reply. (Red Flag #4) I assumed that I would not be going ahead with the podcast as I was already committed for the date and time they sent.
Eyebrows & Opportunities
I was working from home the following day, doing some much needed administrative type tasks. It was a great morning. Very productive. Sure, I was a little disappointed to be missing out on a cool opportunity but I shrugged it off. Imagine my surprise when the phone rang as I was drawing on my eyebrows…half of my left eyebrow was lost in an unfortunate shaving accident but that’s a story for another day…
It was the podcast host asking if I was ready for my interview! Delighted, I said yes and responded to her probing questions about A Sorted Affair. After it was over, we hung up and that was that. Or, so I thought.
But, wait! There’s more!
Minutes later, I received a phone call from the “Executive Producer” of the podcast. (Red Flag #5) Apparently, my segment produced “great results.” They had call ins and emails from listeners asking questions about me and my business! She couldn’t believe how people responded to me! Oh, she poured it on thick and I ate it up, asking for more.
Here’s the thing, that questionnaire that I filled out for the initial podcast? Well, it contained ALL the information that she needed to know about me and my business. She was able to sell to me based on exactly what I wanted to hear. Cuz, I essentially told her. Clever, really.
Scam or Business Model?
The sales pitch came fast and furious. Celebrity hosts! An audience of up to 400 million listeners from across the world! Commercials! Sponsors! I’d be featured on FIVE platforms including Spotify, Deezer, Stitcher, TuneIn and I Heart Radio! Was I ready for the new business? I absolutely WOULD get new clients. I could offer my services virtually etc. etc. etc.
And then the words I was a total idiot not to expect…for a small fee (Alert! Alert! Red Flag #???!) There was a heightened sense of urgency. Listeners responded and I didn’t want to miss out on this opportunity, did I? This slot was exclusive to me RIGHT NOW. Or, they would move on to the next Organizer & Advance Planner.
Someone stop me, please!
All of a sudden we were talking numbers. They wanted me as an “industry expert” for five, 30 minute podcasts starting ASAP! For the low, low price of $3,500 USD. I’m pretty sure my brain stopped working at this point. It’s the only possible reason I have for what I did next.
Her sales script was sublime. As there was “such a great audience response”, she had already spoken to the Network and they agreed to reduce the fee to $2,100 because of the exchange rate. So generous, right? *Insert eye roll* When I hesitated, suddenly there was a 3 session package on the table for only $1,500!
I’ll Make You an Offer You Can’t Refuse…
To my defense, I did ask for time to consider everything. That’s when this “Executive Producer” went in for the kill. Sensing she was losing me, she offered a “deal” I couldn’t resist. One, 30 minute podcast for $500. Same 5 platforms. A celebrity host. Great investment. Grow my audience. Tax deductible.
Before I knew what was happening, I was giving her my credit card number and signing an electronic document. One that I wasn’t given time to read. Nor did I actually take the time to read it. I know, I know. *Facepalm* I was told to wait on the line until my payment was processed. Then, I was transferred to “Scheduling” and booked a time from “my podcast.” I mean, they have their formula down pat.
There’s a sucker born every minute
You know, I’ve always considered myself an intelligent woman. In the know. Up to date. Aware. I never thought that I could be suckered like this. Boy, was I WRONG. I made (an expensive) mistake. It’s very humbling. I’ll admit, I was totally swept up. Looking back, this experience has proven to me that I do want to grow my business to a larger audience. And, that maybe a podcast, something that I hadn’t seriously considered, is a way to do just that. Under my terms. I know damn well that it takes effort and time to grow a business, not a 30 minute, overpriced podcast that isn’t directed to my target audience.
Shortly after I gave a complete stranger my credit card information, an email arrived in my inbox with a more in-depth questionnaire of what would be covered in “my” 30 minute podcast. I was permitted to amend the questions. Oh, hell yeah, I’ll be amending the questions.
Cringe-As the kids say.
This entire experience makes me feel yuck-o and dumb. Really dumb. My ego and I had an in-depth chat. She was riding high on some recent personal and business wins. There is now a strict “Check Yo’self Before You Wreck Yo’self” policy in place. It includes a “Gut Check” clause.
Stay tuned for “my” podcast! I wish I could say that I was excited. I will do it justice because, $500 USD, yo. And, it’s a reflection of me and my work.
Podcast Business News Network, you win this time. If it happened to me, it can happen to you.
If you still trust my judgement after reading this and are looking for help to declutter, organize and simplify-reach out. Virtual consultations available. Please. I have some unexpected expenses to cover. LOL.
ADDENDUM: I managed to secure a FULL refund! The following morning, a clearer head prevailed and I actually read the agreement I signed. What a concept. I had 48 hours to request a withdrawal of services and I immediately contacted them so it was timestamped. I may have mentioned I was speaking to my lawyer and cc’d them into the email as well. Hey, I can play hardball too.
Yours in All Things Sorted,