In early January I answered a phone call, though I’m always suspicious of telemarketers. The human on the other end politely introduced themselves and said they were interested in interviewing me for a podcast segment on genealogy. Ok, they had my interest, and I decreased my apprehension. They explained the interview would only be five minutes long and pre-prepared questions would be sent. That sounded easy enough, so I agreed to participate for free publicity. I asked how they had found me and was told they had a team of people contacting genealogists.
I asked a few genealogy friends if they knew about this podcast. Some had gotten a voicemail but hadn’t returned the call. Some said it seemed like a legitimate podcast. It didn’t seem like I had anything to lose.
I gave my short interview on Friday, 6 January 2023 at 6:37 am. This was the only spot they had available, but I’m usually up early anyway. You can listen to the podcast here – https://www.stitcher.com/show/meet-the-elite-intro/episode/7288-stewart-traiman-01-06-23-genealogy-james-210629301
I’d written out answers to their questions, so I was feeling ready to maximize these short minutes. They called at the appointed time and I thought I performed well. I didn’t know if this experience would help my business in the least, how many people would be listening in the early morning, or how people would find the spot later. Maybe nothing would ever come of this, but I was willing to be experimental.
The Next call
The following Tuesday, my phone rang with the caller ID showing “Meet the Elite,” so I answered it again. A nice woman named Stephanie was very complimentary about my performance during the five-minute interview. She said I was well-spoken and professional. There had been people contacting the network asking to reach me. Stephanie asked for permission to share my contact details. I said of course, but the contact information had already been shared in the podcast. This should have been red flag number one.
She went on to say that I had rated a 9.2 out of 10. This score was based on clarity, interest, tone, delivery, and a long list of rattled-off criteria. I was feeling very good about myself. People really liked what I said. Cool! Stephanie told me that since I had scored so highly, the network wanted me back for a 30-minute segment to talk about genealogy. Ok, I was open to doing that. In my head, I started thinking of what I might say.
In fact, the network was so interested in me that they were willing to set up ten 30-minute interviews with a celebrity interviewer. These ten podcasts would be repeated 20 times on Spotify, Amazon, and another list of rattled-off platforms. So really, I would have 200 shows aired in one month. Wow, where was this going? I started feeling a bit overwhelmed. What would I talk about for ten 30-minute segments? But sure, I’d be willing to give it a try, and develop some talking points.
At one point in the conversation, I asked how many people had listened to the podcast. She gave a complicated answer about networks, and multiple platforms, but essentially it would be impossible to know how many people listened. This was red flag number two. If they can’t tell how many people listened, then how do they know I rated at a 9.2?
Stephanie said the network was looking for one representative in each state to represent their field. Becoming the genealogy representative for California was open to me if I wanted it. Then she said they’d be willing to throw in billboards and kiosk advertising for my business. What?! What genealogist needs a billboard? Who qualified me to represent all of California? This call was getting ridiculous. What was it actually about?
And then she said, “but of course, there would be a cost for this package.” Aaaahhhh! (Pause for dramatic effect.) Here it comes. After more compliments and buttering me up and enumerating the benefits to my business, and my future, and the improvement to all humanity should I take the package, she finally gave me some totals. Since the network wanted me so badly, they were willing to give me part of the start-up cost. A package like this would usually run $12,000 to $15,000 but FOR ME it was only going to be $5,000.
I felt deflated, tricked, hustled. All her compliments were shit. The 9.2 rating was a lie. Making me feel good about my performance was just a way in to make a sales pitch. I politely declined Stephanie’s offer. She tried a couple of hard-sell tactics, like saying the network wouldn’t be as generous if I didn’t take the deal today. I remained polite but it crossed my mind to say some nasty things to her. I disentangled myself from the phone call and my briefly glimpsed future of podcasting. The call left me upset for several hours.
I’ve provided the link to the podcast above. But looking at their website, I find it impossible for anyone to locate my interview amongst the thousands of other mini-interviews. [In March 2023, I discovered this link is no longer active. I can no longer find my podcast recording on the stricher site.]
I found there was nothing gained from participating in this farce. Meet the Elite Podcast does not have my best interest in mind. They are a business, a scam, to take money for unwanted and unnecessary advertising packages. The five-minute introduction interview was only a lure to sell their products.
An Update – 7 May 2023
Since publishing this blog article, it has received over 450 hits, which is a lot for my little site. But more importantly, sixteen people have taken the time to contact me with their gratitude for writing it. That is also a big number, relatively. Several reported being suspicious of Meet the Elite’s initial phone contact, then they do a Google search to investigate them. My blog post comes up in those searches. I’ve been contacted by photographers, wellness coaches, vegan dieticians, Reiki practitioners, travel agents, and many other small business owners.
One woman said she did pay for their services and after her second podcast has been very disappointed. She regrets not having found this blog sooner.
Another woman reported paying for their package then immediately doubting she did the right thing. She looked for Meet the Elite reviews and then called me. We had a phone conversation where she asked me if I had proof that this was a scam. No, I do not have proof, but I didn’t like their sales tactics and overreaching packages that make no sense to me. My instinct said there was no reason to trust or follow through with their offering. She decided to put a stop to her credit card payment.
A man reported that he got very hard sales pressure and when he continued to say he couldn’t afford it, even reduced to $500, the representative got pissed off and hung up on him.
I’ve been contacted via Facebook Messenger, text to my phone, phone calls, and emails. That is all great, but why isn’t anyone leaving a comment on this blog? If people commented here, then everyone can see this conversation build. Now I’ve finally clued in and investigated my own blog settings. Comments were only allowed for the first 14 days. I’ve updated that to a full year. Despite my programming error sixteen resourceful people still found the means and made the effort to contact me. I thank you all for your persistence.
Alternatively, if you’ve had a positive experience with Meet the Elite Podcast there are many people eager to hear it. There seem to be a lot of people contacted by this podcast that are looking for verification of integrity. Please post your story, positive or negative, below.