This was originally added as comment. It was so exceptional, that I had to make it a full post. Alysson has been working in SEO and Social media for over 7 years. She is highly regarded in the SEO community and with several non-profit groups. Her advice is not just for Acteva but others that find themselves in the same type situation.
I think my favorite excuse involved Superstorm Sandy. Did I miss the news report about Sandy having flooded San Francisco? And did Superstorm Sandy somehow result in their BBB accreditation being revoked on October 16th? Hmm… seems implausible, since Sandy didn’t make landfall on the east coast of the United States until almost 2 weeks after their BBB accreditation was revoked for failing to respond to complaints and fixing the operational deficiencies that led to repeated complaints.
It seems as though Acteva is willing to blame their management and operational failures on virtually anything they believe will shut people up, truth and facts notwithstanding. The fact of the matter is that no weather event (certainly not one that occurred 3000 miles away, weeks after their BBB accreditation had already been revoked) and no executive’s extended illness can possibly be to blame for their failures.
At this point it is time for Acteva to drop to their knees, tell people the truth about what’s really going on internally, come absolutely clean to each & every client and pay 100% of what is owed immediately. Their continued attempts to mask their failure through misdirection and mislead people regarding the status of overdue payments have done irreparable damage to their brand and reputation. By choosing to lie about payment statuses and encouraging/allowing employees to leave insulting, confrontational comments here, they are only making things worse for themselves and further alienating their understandably infuriated clients.
As far as online reputation management goes, this is a case study in what not to do. It is a monumental failure on every level. Unfortunately for Acteva and its executive staff, this is no longer about salvaging their brand or winning back disappointed clients. That ship has sailed. This is now about mitigating the potential damage from the legal action, both criminal and civil, that has become inevitable as a direct result of their massive management failure.
The actions of the company’s decision makers are unconscionable. And it is only a matter of time before the San Francisco DA’s office and the Attorney General of California have no choice but to launch a full investigation into Acteva’s allegedly fraudulent business practices. Once their clients begin filing suit in civil court to recoup not only the outstanding funds, but attorney’s fees, court costs and compensatory & punitive damages, it’s over for them. Acteva has a small window of opportunity here to avoid criminal and civil litigation. But that window is closing fast.
If they want to show the authorities and their clients that they are truly remorseful and avoid prosecution, they must pay every client to whom money is owed, in full and in one lump sum, right away. Because of their unrepentant failure to effectively manage complaints, honor contracts and adhere to agreed upon payment schedules, there is simply no other way to resolve the situation at this point.
Do yourself a favor, Acteva executives… make this the very last comment you read here. Your time is much better spent personally reaching out to the clients you’ve so callously and unapologetically wronged, offering genuine apologies for your obvious management failures and cutting checks for full payment to each & every client to whom funds are owed. This will not go away until you take full responsibility for your management & operational failures and make good on the agreements you entered into with your clients.