The Knot’s parent company is scrambling to reassure its mom and pop advertisers after the Post published a smashing report of allegations that the popular wedding site was cheating on its customers – but two furious small business owners called the desperate action “damage control”.
The Knot Worldwide’s ad sales practices are facing unprecedented scrutiny amid allegations that the company has been ripping off local advertisers for years using allegedly shady tactics including providing fake or spam customer contacts, failing to meet contract terms that promised top rankings in search results , and lockdowns include bringing vendors into deals that are difficult to get out of.
Last week, the company’s CEO, Tim Chi, sent angry sellers a message denying that The Knot committed any wrongdoing and outlining steps that would need to be taken to maintain their trust.
The Aug. 3 memo, titled “Our Commitment to You,” cited “recent media coverage” of The Knot, according to screenshots obtained by The Post.
“We know there’s still work to be done and that issues like lead quality, search results, and support/account management are top priorities for many,” said Chi. “Continuously creating a better experience for you is our priority, and you can expect to hear from us on these topics and more in the near future.”
Chi dismissed the allegations from former employees and current advertisers, saying “unequivocally” that The Knot Worldwide “does not tolerate any fraudulent or unethical practices on our platform and within our business.”
Chi’s attempt to placate the providers failed with many longtime advertisers.
An Austin, Texas-based small business owner who advertised on the platform described Chi’s memo as “bullshit.”
“I felt like it was a bit too late. I’ve had a terrible experience with them since day one, well over four years,” the seller told The Post. “His attempt at damage control won’t work for me.”
The provider, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, claimed it received useless leads during an initial 12-month advertising deal with The Knot – a claim previously made by providers and countless online reviews on sites such as TrustPilot and Better Business Office.
When the seller tried to go out of business after the first year, The Knot reportedly continued to charge his credit card at a higher interest rate than previously agreed.
It took the company two years to settle the invoices with American Express and come to terms with The Knot’s sales team before the company finally stopped sending out invoices, the seller said.
A second Midwest-based provider who received the CEO’s message said it felt the company was just trying to “save face.”
The vendor said his company received “zero valuable leads” during its tenure as a paid advertiser.
“I felt the message was a well-crafted PR response that did little to directly address the actual allegations, but rather to pretend the allegations were based on past experience and as if these violent tactics were not.” still applied today,” added the second seller, who also wished to remain anonymous.
When asked to comment, a spokesperson for The Knot Worldwide said, “We truly believe that the prospects of our supplier community strengthen our business.” share latest updates, address our goals and underscore our commitment to them.”
“As Tim mentioned in that email, we value the trust of our partners. We know there’s still work to be done, and our priority is to continually deliver a better experience for providers,” the spokesperson added.
Chi said The Knot is “making investments” to improve its widely criticized account support, which he says has “improved customer support response time by 63% over the past few months.”
He added that the company is adding tools to “WeddingPro” – the internal name for its vendor platform – and cited recently unveiled plans to introduce a “customer advisory board” where vendors could provide direct feedback.
Chi said The Knot will begin providing “quarterly business updates” to local advertisers, which will reportedly “give insight into what we’re working on to improve the vendor experience and ensure our priorities reflect yours.”
The company’s alleged fraudulent treatment of advertisers was just part of the broader allegations by former Knot employees and current providers.
Four former employees said former The Knot executives oversaw a toxic workplace and aggressively silenced those who tried to sound the alarm internally.
The former employees said The Knot also lied to major advertisers like Macy’s and David’s Bridal and charged them for ads as if they could target specific customers — say, brides looking for dresses in a particular market — even though The Knot did knew there was a lack of stock to meet the agreed terms.
The former employees also claimed that lower-level media strategists were being pressured to circumvent an internal compliance system and place ads to appear in other, less visible parts of the site.
The sources said The Knot’s dodgy dealings continued after the company’s nearly $1 billion sale in 2018 in a deal brokered by buyout giant Permira and Spectrum Equity.
As part of this deal, The Knot merged with WeddingWire to become The Knot Worldwide.
Three of the former employees — Jennifer Davidson, Rachel LaFera, and Cindy Elley — confirmed that they had officially reported their concerns to federal authorities about the specific allegations about the company’s off-site sales practices and work environment.
The CEO’s message to customers appeared on the same day Forbes published a separate reportwhich reiterated the Post’s findings and detailed some new revelations, including that at least one corporate advertiser, Justin Alexander, “had asked The Knot for an audit of the past six years of its advertising.”
“Many say The Knot has evolved into a money-and-anything business that defies the feel-good nature of wedding celebrations and pressures employees to break ethical lines,” the statement reads Forbes report also cited interviews with two dozen current and former Knot employees.
In his memo, The Knot’s CEO described the allegations detailed in reports by The Post and later Forbes as “outdated, inaccurate and misleading claims” that have been “thoroughly investigated and resolved.”
The company had previously denied any wrongdoing in a detailed statement.
“In this case, former employees of XO Group, Inc., which operated The Knot, expressed their concerns to leadership before parting ways with the company years ago. Your concerns were taken just as seriously then as they are now,” a spokesman for The Knot Worldwide said in a statement last month.
“The leadership team that was made aware of these concerns and worked at XO Group Inc. prior to its merger with WeddingWire, Inc. in 2018 is not today part of The Knot Worldwide. At that time, an external law firm was commissioned to investigate the complaints of the former employees in detail.”
“The investigation found that XO Group reported its financial results correctly in all material respects and that all allegations of widespread wrongdoing were unfounded. XO Group has also cooperated with federal regulators who have not taken any enforcement action based on these allegations,” the statement continued.