Seattle plumber Evan Conklin is very angry at HelpHive. He made his feelings plain in a comment on one of my posts about the company. Now the Seattle blog TechFlash posts that part of Conklin’s anger is about call tracking:
That was until last Friday when Conklin stumbled upon HelpHive, a Seattle online directory of local service providers. Conklin couldn’t believe what he saw. His business listing on HelpHive included a phone number, but it wasn’t the one he’d used for the past 30 years. It was a new number generated and controlled by HelpHive, a proxy number of sorts that the Internet upstart had set up to track calls it was passing on to the plumber.
Conklin was appalled with the idea that a third-party Web site could create a new phone number for his business, thinking that it was simply a way to get between him and his customer and to eventually start charging him for leads. “They have no right to do that,” said Conklin.”These guys are like vampires, sitting behind laptops siphoning off business.”
The questions this dispute raises (again) are:
- Who owns SMB data? (facts are public in the US and cannot be copyrighted)
- Can companies swap in things like call tracking numbers (very widespread) or other similar lead capture devices without the consent of the business itself?
We’ll see if Conklin goes so far as to file a suit against HelpHive. If he were to, does anyone know of cases in this area that may have resolved the question of whether call-tracking or similar devices can be used without an SMB’s prior consent?