Corporate Law

Referral Services: Consumers and Clients Beware

Customer Business Card

Referrals are a strong way to market a business, and organic referrals are something that every business owner tries to achieve. But when you’re the one that calls a service or business, it means that you want to do business with a specific company.

The issue is that there are referral services that will not provide the service that they promise.

Attorney referral services are one of the services where a “bait and switch” occurs. Let’s assume that you’ve been injured while walking in Home Depot. Perhaps you tripped over a box that was left in the middle of an aisle, and the company was at fault because workers neglected to move the obstruction out of the way in a timely manner.

You’re in a bind. You have injuries that need to be treated, and medical bills are piling up. So, you, like many others, will call a lawyer to see what your legal remedies are. You’ve found a lawyer (the person on the other end seemed knowledgeable), and now you’re going to visit the law office.

The problem is that this lawyer is not the person you called.

“What most likely happened is that the ‘attorney’ you first called was not an actual law firm and possibly the person you spoke with was not an actual attorney,” explains Strom & Associates.

Services Pay to Be Included in a Referral Service

When you call a referral service, and this can even be someone that comes to you, you’ll be directed to one of several other service providers. It happens all of the time. Service providers provide others with a commission for leads, or customers sent directly to them.

It doesn’t seem like an issue at all, but you might be referred to someone that is:

  • Rated badly
  • Known for bad service

There are even companies that sound like a law firm, yet they will refer the service to another lawyer. Money is exchanged for this lead, and as a consumer, you may be paying a premium because of this.

It’s a shady practice because kickbacks are given for the referral.

You’ll find that this is a practice that isn’t unique to law firms, although it is common in the industry. Home services, plumbers, electricians – all service providers – may purchase leads from referral companies.

It’s your duty as a consumer to:

  • Research the service provider further
  • Read reviews and/or testimonials of the service provider
  • Never sign a contract without doing your due diligence

You’ll also want to investigate both companies on the Better Business Bureau to determine if any complaints exist.

Referral companies are not all bad, and a lot of them will offer you a solid lead for the service that you need rendered. The real issue with a referral company is that the company, if they act as a professional in another field, may mislead consumers – a practice that is not legal. The referral must be transparent and known from the beginning, or the referral company may be misleading the consumer into a service that is subpar or not as advertised.

The owner and editor of Legal Scoops, Jacob Maslow, has founded several online newspapers including Daily Forex Report and Conservative Free Press. He works as an Online Marketing Consultant providing web marketing services for attorney SEO firms.

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