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The strange tale of the company who offered someone else’s services

by Mel Starrs on August 26, 2006

in Accreditation, Funding & Targets

I’m deep into some competitive analysis for BREEAM services at the minute and whilst browsing through some websites found this very odd example.
The chain of events went such:

  1. Find a BREEAM for schools assessor using
  2. Find website addresses on the list of assessors
  3. Go to Gifford website listed on the website
  4. Use the prominent search box at the top of the home page to search for “BREEAM”
  5. Land at this page with sponsored links for 3 competitors who all offer BREEAM services, and the message ‘Sorry, no matches were found containing BREEAM’ for Gifford

What I can’t work out is if Gifford do or do not offer BREEAM for Schools. According to the BREEAM website they do (which leads me to believe they have paid their licensing fee), but according to their site they do not claim to.

Three possible reasons why this strange state of affairs may have occured:

  1. Gifford’s website is out of date and does not reflect their services – this is not only shoddy but bizarre in the extreme – they are in fact advertising competitors services?
  2. Gifford have stopped offering BREEAM for schools and the ex-employees (assuming there is one or more) have moved onto the companies in the sponsored links and are paying a fee in return for traffic (unlikely, but possible)
  3. Gifford have stopped offering BREEAM and the sponsored links are repaying the license fee which they have already paid

Playing around with my new favourite shiny web2.0 toy Sitescore, the Gifford website gets 7.1 out of 10, which is not bad compared to some other engineering websites I’ve tried out, which leads me to suspect reason no. 1 is incorrect. However, of the sponsored links, one is located is South Yorkshire (Gifford are in Southampton), another is an ecologist in Sudbury (unlikely to be an ex-employee) and the other is in Towcester. So probably not reason no. 2. The sponsored links appear to be in alphabetical order which leads me to think no. 3 is more likely.
What’s the story here? If anyone knows, drop me a line. It’s piqued my nosiness no end…