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Conversation with a friendly lady at MapQuest

In my continuing documentation of our efforts to get a client’s incorrect maps/business data corrected, I’d like to document here my phone conversation with Sandy, a very helpful MapQuest employee.
For all of you groaning over the anonymity of Google Maps, even when the businesses in their index are being robbed blinder than bats by LBC hijackers, you will be pleasantly surprised to know that things are done differently at MapQuest. Not only did I have the pleasure of speaking to an employee who understood exactly what my client’s concerns are, but I was told the following information that will come as a beauteous example of taking care of business to everyone evincing signs of Google bruises:
1) Mapquest updates their business listing data on a weekly basis. Yes – weekly.
If you discover a problem with your business listing, just follow the help link at the bottom of their page and select the contact us link. This will give you a form to fill out to report an error and the form will be delivered to their troubleshooting department.
According to Sandy, they can then investigate this email, with the intention of correcting such errors like wrong phone numbers or addresses in about 1 week’s time.
We are expecting to see the Business Name search for our client, Quast Automotive, bringing up a correct map on MapQuest by the end of next week. What do you think of that?!
2) Address Listings take a little longer.
From what I understood, the business listing index is separate from MapQuest’s index called the Critical Address File. It takes a bit longer to get changes implemented in this database, but I was told we can hope to see a corrected address search for my client’s business by the end of November. How about that!
3) Navteq makes changes on a quarterly basis
In the case of my client, it isn’t just his business address that is being displayed incorrectly on the map – it is his whole corner of Hayward, Wisconsin. Missing streets, incorrect names on streets and a major street being displayed as a long-defunct railroad are some of the problems being displayed by all Navteq and TeleAtlas clients. In a case like this, with multiple errors, the whole problem cannot be handled by MapQuest. They have to alert Navteq (I have done this and Sandy is going to follow up on the report I sent to Navteq, as well). On a quarterly basis, Navteq sends out drivers (yes, actual drivers in cars) to problem areas that have been reported and they can then update their data with the correct information the drivers collect.
The not-so-great news is that this a long queue process and by the time the data gets corrected by NavTeq (for our client’s town this will be in Navteq’s Jan-March 1st quarter of the year, based upon the time we reported the error), and the corrected data gets sent out to entities like MapQuest, MSN or Yahoo! who are using Navteq data, we would be looking at resolution coming no earlier than May-June of 2009. That’s a long time to wait, but at least we’ve been given a goal to look forward to. I can’t overstate the value of that.
4) Verification matters to MapQuest
While speaking to Sandy, I took the opportunity to ask her how MapQuest handles verification of changes being made to business data. As Mike Blumenthal has repeatedly reported now, a flawed community edit process is what is leading to an untold number of dollars being lost by companies whose Google LBC listings have been hijacked by spammers and criminals. Sandy explained that when a request is made for business data to be changed in MapQuest, this generally leads to a phone call for the purpose of clarity and verification. The bottom line: MapQuest is employing people to help ensure that data is accurate by being in direct contact with business owners who request changes and Google isn’t.
I will conclude by saying that I have yet to hear from Google, MSN or TeleAtlas regarding my reports and that MapQuest continues to come out way ahead of the crowd for the job they are doing in ensuring accurate data. I’m really happy to think that we’ll have made some progress for this client by the end of next week with MapQuest.
I’ll keep reporting on my experience with this.