Va. Business Owner Sues Google, Yellowbook and Ziplocal for $8.4 Million | NBC4 Washington

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Va. Business Owner Sues Google, Yellowbook and Ziplocal for $8.4 Million

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A Virginia based company, Baldino’s Lock & Key Service, filed a federal lawsuit against Google, Yellowbook and Ziplocal. It alleges the companies allow unlicensed locksmiths to advertise on their search engines, and that harms licensed businesses, like their own. News4's Kristin Wright reports. (Published Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014)

    A Northern Virginia businessman is suing Google, Yellowbook, and Ziplocal, for $8.4 million in damages, claiming he has lost significant business in the past 7 years.

    "We're fighting for every service call we get, and my job is to make the phone ring, and it's not ringing," Baldino's Lock & Key owner Mark Baldino said.

    Baldino said the search engines knowingly list pages of fraudulent and unlicensed locksmiths in search results.

    "I believe it's just plain old greed," he said.

    The phone numbers sometimes lead to dispatchers in other states farming out calls to people who are not locksmiths, don't really have businesses, but respond to calls and overcharge, according to Baldino.

    "Who are these guys coming out? What's their background? I know in Virginia and Maryland, you have to have a background check in order to be a licensed locksmith,” said Baldino.

    Yellowbook filed a lawsuit against Baldino last year for unpaid advertising costs. Baldino lost the lawsuit and is now appealing.

    "I will not pay them as long as they have 5,000 fake listings in their directory,” said Baldino.

    Baldino’s veteran locksmith Billy Coy says he hears from customers who have been burned several times a week.

    "They basically destroy the lock, and they're calling us to say, 'Is there something you can do to fix what they've done?'" said Coy.

    Google declined to comment on the lawsuit. Yellowbook plans to fight it. Ziplocal has not responded to News4's request for comment.