Editor's note: This column has been updated throughout to reflect the comment of Expert Market.
This weekend, I saw an appealing ad on my Facebook feed for a site called Expert Market.Their tagline is "Expert Market provides the best resources to find, compare, and learn about the products and services your business needs. All in one place. All for free. All tailored to you."
Expert Market is a company with a similar business to MultiFunding.com, which I founded, so I was curious about their value proposition. So I decided to test it, and answered a few questions under the category SBA loan. SBA loans are guaranteed by the U.S. government, and offer borrowers long amortizations and affordable rates.
Before I knew it, I was offered a loan from a company called Rapid Advance, a company that specializes in expensive short-time on-line loans and cash advances. Their interest rates are outrageous. Comparing a Rapid Advance loan product to an SBA loan is like comparing an elephant and a mouse.
A spokeswoman for Expert Market says its "content adheres to compliance regulations and we use qualifying questions to ensure we only match people with products or services which fit their needs."
But for me, the experience only got worse. First thing this morning, the Rapid Advance salesman was on the phone with me touting their product as being sponsored by Quicken Loans. It's worth noting that Rapid Advance and Quicken Loans share an investor.
In this case, as in any other financial decision, the lesson here to a would-be customer is: Buyer beware. Look past marketing to the terms of the deal that's being offered.
Correction: An earlier version of this piece did not disclose that Expert Market is in a similar business to the author's and say that Expert Market's marketing complies with regulation and seeks to match customers with their needs, according to the company.