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Ecommerce Forum

Competitor using my company name
on product comparison

 8:17 pm on Jun 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

A while back I had someone buy one of our products we make, and then use it as the base for creating their own model that is slightly different. He then emailed many of our past customers and potential new customers in our field, and pitched them on their product, specifically stating it was better than ours. I emailed him to voice my displeasure at how he was conducting himself, and he told me he had no intention of really marketing his product or comparing it publicly. I now found that he has setup a website selling his version of the product, and then has a test in a youtube video, where he compares his version to ours, naming ours by name... showing that his works better. The test is highly suspicious, as I simply don't believe he is getting the results he claims.

What can I do about this? I don't feel it's right to name our product by name in this manor. Does anyone know what the legal standing is on this sort of thing? If I do have grounds for legal action, what should I do? This kind of thing is dangerous, as it could backfire on me as far as the public's view of us. But I just feel this guy is going too far.



 10:32 pm on Jun 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

well, usual answer is, get a lawyer, if you feel sales are dwindeling because of that, how about getting his product, make a test yourself and reply with your own video in his youtube channel?


 10:42 pm on Jun 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

How did they get your customers contact information in order to e-mail them?

To venture slightly off-topic here, this is exactly why I tell most companies NOT to make a social media "fan page" for their company. You wouldn't put a list of who your customers are, and a way to contact them, up on your regular site ... but when you have customers joining your Facebook page, that's exactly what you're doing.

Anyway, back to the point... if your customers contact information was acquired through some kind of public venue then there isn't anything you can do. If it was acquired illegally, then you have grounds on that one situation, but that's it.

Other than that, there is no grounds for legal action. There is nothing illegal or wrong with comparing your product to someone else's. Nor is there anything wrong with contacting customers known to be using one product and try to sell them a different one. The only thing that would be illegal is if he illegally obtained a customer list from you.


 10:57 pm on Jun 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

This is a very small niche, and all the potential clients/customers hang out in the same places, and we pretty much all know each other. That's how I found out so easily, because some people contacted me and asked if I knew what this guy was doing.

I've been doing this for 10 years, and every single one of our products was developed by me personally, from scratch. I never once bought something from someone else and modeled a product off of theirs, or talked trash about any other company in my field. He's managed to do this in just the first couple months.

Judging by his site, he now seems to be planing all kinds of other stuff, basically based on niches that I have dominated in. In essence, he appears to be just trying to copy my products and business. If there was all kinds of business to go around, I probably wouldn't care. But there isn't. I've struggled these past years like everyone, and it is just completely disheartening to see this happening... and frankly, almost makes me want to just give up and do something else... Unfortunately, there really isn't anything else.

On his site he states that he has "years of experience" in this field... This joker has contacted me many times with some of the most ignorant questions I've ever heard, and has only been selling stuff for a couple months. He has no idea how to make any of this stuff. I make all of our products completely from scratch. He must just be paying somebody else to do it. I honestly think he just handed over one of ours to them and said... 'Here, make one like this for me, only change a couple things'. "Years of experience"? Already today he is getting a buzz about his stuff, because people don't know any better. Anything I try and do is just going to make me out to be the bad guy.

It's just really sad that dishonesty gets you everywhere in life.


 2:59 am on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well if he says anything is bad or wrong about your product it's all over as liable. A good lawyer can twist anything around as a negative and make a case, if that's what you really want to do.


 3:46 am on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

He did say my product basically shouldn't be rated as high as it is performance-wise, then proceeded to do this completely non scientific "test", which claims to prove this. I know for a fact it is false and he is either deliberately fixing the results or just has no idea what he is doing. He also flat out said; "other companies making this product, lie and exaggerate their claims". He didn't say mine, but he was doing the test against mine, so the obvious inference is there.

I hate to have to even involve a lawyer, but I just think what he is doing is unethical.

What I might do is simply try to trump him by developing an even better one. Since he doesn't make anything himself, there's only so much he can do. But how he's conducted himself so far, I think he'd probably just lie about that one too. Truth be told, I would rather not get into some big pi**ing match with him. That's just not my style. I try and respect other people's businesses, and don't want to resort to that.


 7:02 am on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think you should be honest on your site. Put up your credentials and support them with actual proof of how long you've been doing it etc. I'm tempted to say put up his ignorant questions, but I think that would backfire!

Also as was said previously, make your own video comparing the products and conduct a fair test. I'd recommend being totally honest. If his is better at something say that, but point out your best bits. Show that you have an integrity that he is lacking. Customers appreciate honesty. Also think about what you can add to your service that he doesn't. Good customer service generally brings more people back, even during a recession as they know they are going to be looked after. You don't have to fight him just on product.


 8:41 am on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Sounds like you be hit in the short term but people very rapidly figure out when things aren't as the seller was claiming. In a small niche the word should get out pretty fast. I don't think you need do anything other than brush up your own site with customer testimonials and your unique selling points.


 2:36 pm on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Unless you have seen a massive drop in your sales, I honestly would not worry about it. I got very upset a couple years ago when I found that someone who had bought some widgets from me that I had created had copied them and was selling them through his own shop he had set up to compete with mine. He was also undercutting my price hugely, and since he is a professional webmaster, his site was much prettier and glitzier than mine. I felt so worried. Oh, this is the end of my biz!

Well, I am still here, and he is still unable to make it on the profits of his shop. No matter how many things he copies from me, he will never have a creative bone in his body. He will never know what he is doing with these widgets like I do. Not all customers are going to know that. Plenty will be fooled by his pretty shop. Plenty more won't.

About a year ago, he contacted me because some third person had ripped off all his widget names and descriptions and was claiming that they were made from ancient family recipes. This person also ripped off some of my content. I kicked their behind and then I laughed so hard at the situation of my would-be competitor. Fool.

Don't worry about this person. Just keep on making new things. That is something you can do that he cannot do. Force yourself not to think about it, much less obsess about it. Use this occurrence as an opportunity to examine your business for ways you can expand it and sharpen its focus.


 6:40 pm on Jun 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks HRoth and everybody... You're probably right. I probably am worrying a little too much. It's disturbing, but I shouldn't automatically assume it's the end of the world. Sales are actually up quite a bit from this time last year, so I shouldn't feel too bad.


 3:12 pm on Jun 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

Another possibility is that your competitor is trying to get you to respond and talk about his product.


 3:26 pm on Jun 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

Here in the UK Amstrad when it was introducing its computers used to do side by side advertising showing the market leader, usually Compaq I think and its own model and showing the prices. Amstrad's prices were always much much lower.

I think if you are doing a fair comparison, it can be ok to mention a competitor in product promotions.

But as is often the way, he who lives by the sword ... etc


 11:38 pm on Jun 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

We had a sales rep company once that we fired. The owner of that company took our product samples that we had given him, sent them to Taiwan and had them copied, and then went after the customer list he had and started selling them for 30% less.

It hurt, but ultimately I am not sure if it did in the long run. The conversation with customers went from "What is a bloopy widget?" to "How does your bloopy widget compare to Taiwan copy company?" This resulted in a quick story of the origin of each company, a short statement about our US made product compared to a Taiwan made product, etc etc etc.

We kept innovating and developing new product and ultimately I think we ended up with the better position on it. We always had the high ground and the players in our industry knew the true story.


 7:53 am on Jun 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm not that old, but it wasn't that long ago that some business owners still had a way to deal with unscrupulous people, that was a little more... personal.

One of my first jobs as a kid was working at this local delivery company... One day, the owner told me a story about how his previous boss that he started with, still owned a couple other delivery companies... One time, he found out that my then boss, had been trying to lure away a few of this guy's customers. He said that one day, a couple of this other guy's larger 'employees', decided to pay my boss a visit. By the time they left, a few things in the office had 'accidentally' been broken, and my boss decided that he wouldn't be chasing that gentleman's customers anymore.


 9:01 am on Jun 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

I recently had a similar problem with some idiot emailing my customers using my site by name as an entry, and I sent a VERY SERIOUS C&D order to the offenders.

As far as I know they have stopped, but if I find out they didn't, the online reputation nightmare will begin for those idiots.


 4:35 am on Jun 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

What would you do Bill... just start informing everybody about what they've done?


 2:36 pm on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

What would you do Bill... just start informing everybody about what they've done?


I might consider adopting a slogan claiming "BUY ORIGINAL, don't settle for second best knock offs" for starters just to raise a quality concern about the other product.

Maybe even change my product name to the "ORIGINAL WIDGET" and kick off a big PR campaign.

it wasn't that long ago that some business owners still had a way to deal with unscrupulous people, that was a little more... personal.

You mean like getting a pre-paid cell phone and having some girl call his wife looking for her "huggy bear" wondering aloud why he's late to the motel?

Not like I'd condone such things, but people that screw with other peoples livelihoods have no clue what kind of karma can some back to bite them.


 7:06 pm on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well... The last guy that tried messing with my livelihood ended up going to jail for fraud through the mail service. He was apparently selling stuff to people that he didn't have. Postal inspectors popped him when he went to get his mail at his box.

I didn't have anything to do with it. He did it all by himself. But he had accused me publicly of being dishonest and lied about things I said, which I never said. The stuff he said about me is still on his website to this day, and every once in a while, somebody will still reference those negative comments. But I heard he went back to jail again.

I've found that the people who go around calling other people dishonest all the time, are usually the most dishonest of all.


 5:48 am on Jun 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

How did they get your customers contact information in order to e-mail them?

To venture slightly off-topic here, this is exactly why I tell most companies NOT to make a social media "fan page" for their company. You wouldn't put a list of who your customers are, and a way to contact them, up on your regular site ... but when you have customers joining your Facebook page, that's exactly what you're doing.

I disagree. It is not as easy as that.

If the competitor clicks "view fans" and sees a list of the customers, what can he do? He cannot invite them to his own page because he is not their friend; not many people would add a random stranger as a friend; not many people would appreciate a spammer adding them as a friend and would not take a spammer seriously; and Facebook's anti-spam features would kick in if he tried to add too many random people as friends through this method.

I might be more inclined to agree with you for this on Twitter; however, there is still limited things the competitor can do with a mere Twitter username. Is he going to spam them to death with "buy my product"? No, because that would be highly ineffective. The most the person would do is follow your followers in hopes of them following him back, and then he can stream useful articles and things promoting his products.

The benefit of social media (depending on the type of company and audience) is far greater than anything resulting from "revealing your customer base to your competition." I believe you are doing a great disservice to your clients in advising them not to pursue social media on this one ground alone.

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