In April, Google relaunched the Google Local Business Center as Google Places and one part of that relaunch was the release of a FREE Google Business Photo program. The Business Photo program lets you include pictures of your business in Google Maps, done by Google.
The key points, as Google said are:
It's free! Just apply to have Google take photographs.
Show off your business to new customers around the world.
Enhance your Place Page to stand out above the competition.
But some people are trying to take advantage of those unaware of it being free. A Google Places Help thread has one business owner saying that he was contacted by someone saying they are with Google offering this as a paid service.
I got a call from Mr. Stephen Lezert with Google saying that they would like to come to our restaurant next week and take videos for the vertual tour on Google. He said that it would be a good way for our customers to see our restaurant and it will increase our business. He said that there would be one time fee of 489.00. Is it true that your company is actually asking your customers to pay that amount of money to provide the vertural tour of our business. We got this phone calls from two different men in two days. I am not sure if this is a scam that they will take our money and it would be never posted on Google. Please advise if this deal is actually offered by your company officially.
$489 for something that is free.
Cecelia from the Google Maps team replied saying:
Fumiko, Barry is right. Google does offer the business photo program, but it's free.
I'll see if I can find more info on this. Thanks.
Forum discussion at Google Places Help.