Incredibly popular wedding site The Knot has been accused of cheating advertisers and creating a hostile workplace for its employees.
The Knot is one of the biggest names in the wedding industry and serves as an advertising platform for both small and major businesses in the space, including photographers and wedding videographers.
According to the New York Post, The Knot stands accused of “systematically swindling clients for years.” The accusations include large corporate clients like David’s Bridal, Macy’s, Walmart, and Crate & Barrel, a swell as “mom-and-pop” small businesses ranging from photographers and dressmakers to florists and caterers.
In addition, ex-employees have made claims that former top executives have aggressively silenced anyone that tried to raise alarms internally about these issues.
Whistleblowers within the company say the supposed “swindling” issues began with vendors who purchased premium ads with the promise of generating new client leads, but instead were delivered spam content and even lost rankings within The Knot’s own ad-based search results.
Clients were paying a premium to be featured on the top of the first page of local results yet never found themselves there, breaking the contracted promises.
“A whole lot of people who are paying to be on that first page miss out,” Vitaliy Pysmennyy, the owner of Cleveland-based Vitaliy Photography, tells The Post, citing firsthand experience that his business would regularly fall off the first page of results for his area despite paying for top placement.
“All these practices are actually going on and nobody can stop it.”
The Knot’s former parent company XO Group has been accused of lying to its major corporate clients for years by charging massive premiums for targeted ads even though the company was aware it didn’t have the inventory to satisfy the terms of the agreements.
Further, allegedly when these issues were brought up by employees — which included glitches like missing photos or banners, or ad campaigns that failed to meet their contracted terms or even run at all — executives from XO Group downplayed or even completely ignored them.
Employees further allege that when these issues were brought up, management ran what is described as a “toxic campaign” to eliminate any responsibility and silence workers by pressuring them into signing Non Discloser Agreements (NDA’s). These employees often faced retaliation such as having their pay withheld or, worse, being pushed out of the company if they refused to do conform or continued speaking out.
XO Group went private in a $933 million merger with WeddingWire in 2018. A spokesperson for The Knot tells The Post that the concerns brought up by employees were taken seriously back then “as they are taken seriously now” and adds that the senior leadership team who were alerted to the concerns prior to the merger are not part of The Knot Worldwide today.
However, online reviews, as well as more allegations from former employees imply nothing has changed within the organization and that 70% to 80% of the leads generated by the company aren’t legitimate.
While the XO Group has admitted that there “was something amiss” within the company back in 2017, it currently admit to no wrong-doing and have shifted gears to lock new advertisers into 12-month contracts that are allegedly incredibly difficult to cancel.
The full report from The New York Post can be be read here.
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.