On-line Retail Scams: Tips on researching your vendor’s website before purchasing on-line

If you are going to purchase something over the internet from a non-national "name" vendor such as Costco, Best Buy, Nordstroms, Radio Shack etc, you should REALLY take a few moments to research the website before you hand out your credit card number.

According to a recent NY Times article, the following sites may help you avoid retail grief: Get Satisfaction, ComplaintsBoard.com, ConsumerAffairs.com and RipoffReport.com .

One word of caution about these sites, though. Sometimes an unreasonable customer can in fact post something damaging so I suppose take one or two postings with a grain of salt…the key is to look for multiple postings from a variety of customers which sound in the same complaint. An isolated complaint or two is not key…but ten or 15 negative postings can perhaps be telling.

If you have already been ripped-off, then consider a complaint made to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3, a partnership between the F.B.I. and the National White Collar Crime Center,

The following November 26, 2010 NY Times Article (link below) is almost unbelievable. It concerns a "new breed" of internet commerce where businessowners are intentionally foul and inappropriate in order to get "links" to their websites. These "inbound links" from postings on consumer complaint websites ironically help the fraudulent company to secure top locations in Google search-engine standings. Here is a link to the article – it is sickeningly fascinating:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/business/28borker.html

After Ms. Rodriguez had a contacts and eyeglass purchase go horribly wrong (she was sold counterfeit goods – and the immigrant business owner was threatening, harassing and even posed as Ms. Rodriguez to try to cause trouble with Ms. Rodriguez’s credit card issuing company Citibank, she decided to investigate and push authorities to do something about a company called DecorMyEyes. Here is an excerpt from the investigative article of 11/26/2010 of

(Beginning of quote from NY Times Article of David Segal)

By then, Ms. Rodriguez had learned a lot more about DecorMyEyes on Get Satisfaction, an advocacy Web site where consumers vent en masse.

Dozens of people over the last three years, she found, had nearly identical tales about DecorMyEyes: a purchase gone wrong, followed by phone calls, e-mails and threats, sometimes lasting for months or years.

Occasionally, the owner of DecorMyEyes gave his name to these customers as Stanley Bolds, but the consensus at Get Satisfaction was that he and Tony Russo were the same person. Others dug around a little deeper and decided that both names were fictitious and that the company was actually owned and run by a man named Vitaly Borker.

Today, when reading the dozens of comments about DecorMyEyes, it is hard to decide which one conveys the most outrage. It is easy, though, to choose the most outrageous. It was written by Mr. Russo/Bolds/Borker himself.

“Hello, My name is Stanley with DecorMyEyes.com,” the post began. “I just wanted to let you guys know that the more replies you people post, the more business and the more hits and sales I get. My goal is NEGATIVE advertisement.”

It’s all part of a sales strategy, he said. Online chatter about DecorMyEyes, even furious online chatter, pushed the site higher in Google search results, which led to greater sales. He closed with a sardonic expression of gratitude: “I never had the amount of traffic I have now since my 1st complaint. I am in heaven.”

That would sound like schoolyard taunting but for this fact: The post is two years old. Between then and now, hundreds of additional tirades have been tacked to Get Satisfaction, ComplaintsBoard.com, ConsumerAffairs.com and sites like them.

Not only has this heap of grievances failed to deter DecorMyEyes, but as Ms. Rodriguez’s all-too-cursory Google search demonstrated, the company can show up in the most coveted place on the Internet’s most powerful site.

Which means the owner of DecorMyEyes might be more than just a combustible bully with a mean streak and a potty mouth. He might also be a pioneer of a new brand of anti-salesmanship — utterly noxious retail — that is facilitated by the quirks and shortcomings of Internet commerce and that tramples long-cherished traditions of customer service, like deference and charm.

Nice? No.

Profitable?

“Very,” says Vitaly Borker, the founder and owner of DecorMyEyes, during the first of several surprisingly unguarded conversations.

“I’ve exploited this opportunity because it works. No matter where they post their negative comments, it helps my return on investment. So I decided, why not use that negativity to my advantage?”

(End of Quote)

Note that I DID NOT link this blog post to the DecorMyEyes website – any sort of link to DecorMyEyes would help the Google standing of DecorMyEyes.

Get the picture?

Be careful out there…

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