3 ON YOUR SIDE (3TV) - Sometimes you never know where a winding road will take you.
For the 3 On Your Side team, it took us to Camp Verde, a small town just north of the Valley where scenic views are easy to find.
It's also where Marvin and Betty Skousen live. Here, they ran a business out of their garage called Mower Doc. They launched their repair business back in 1995 and, according to Marvin, attracted customers from miles around.
"I had customers from Payson to Tuba City, Prescott, Flagstaff," Marvin said.
Even though Marvin still keeps his riding mower in tip-top shape, he and his wife Betty shut down their mower business two years ago.
Yet, they're still getting calls seeking repair help because Betty says they can't get their business removed from the World Wide Web.
"I got another phone call yesterday saying, 'Well, you're on Google.' I said, 'We're not in business anymore,' and she says, 'Well, you're on Google,'" said Betty.
Besides those phone calls, Betty says customers still find their way down the winding road and end up at the couple's home unannounced.
"Monday, two gentlemen showed up here wanting to buy a used lawn mower," said Betty.
The Skousens blame Google for their ongoing problem.
When we typed in Mower Doc on Google, several different websites claimed the repair company is still operating. One site even provided hours of operation that Betty found frustrating.
"That just blows my mind why they put 9 to 4. We never told anyone any hours," said Betty.
Remember, the business has been closed for two years, and Marvin and Betty are looking for some solitude. So, 3 On Your Side got a hold of tech expert Ken Colburn for help.
"It can be a very laborious process to get this information removed from the various directories that basically just duplicated this same information over and over again," said Colburn.
At our request, Colburn agreed to assist the retirees by scrubbing their business name from the web.
"In this case, the Yellow Pages, your saying, is it closed? You're saying yes. This business is permanently closed, and it's out of business," said Colburn.
Colburn says it will take a few weeks for Marvin and Betty's old business name to finally fall off of the internet. Betty says she can't wait and says it's a simple request.
"Not to be listed on the internet," said Betty.
If you have a small business or you're thinking of opening one up, get a separate phone line for the business. That way, problems down the road can be avoided.
Colburn offers the following suggestions to go about removing unwanted information from the 10 to 12 master directories where smaller directories pull their information from.
- Colburn says to remove your business from a directory, go to each directory and manually check off your business as sold or closed.
- Another option, Colburn suggests signing up to SEMrush, a listing management, marketing tool. Simply input your business name, address, phone number, then click the check listings to find the major directories where your business comes up. Then proceed to check off the directories that you no longer want to appear on. Keep in mind it may take a couple of weeks the information to drop off.
- And if you’re considering launching your own small business, Colburn recommends not using your home or mobile phone number. Most businesses when or if they fold, can simply release the phone number and avoid the hassle of unwanted calls to a home or mobile number.
Google also has this link that has more information about removing information for web searches.