|Merchant games Google by being obnoxious to customers|
Sells counterfeits, threatens, stalks customers & is number one for it
| 8:16 pm on Nov 28, 2010 (gmt 0)|
This morning I was puzzling over an online merchant who consistently rips people off, lying, cheating them, running bogus charges on their card, threatening them, and yet continues to be in business and to be able to take cards. Then I read about someone who was doing this deliberately in order to increase his rankings in Google:
"he’d hired a search optimization company to burnish his site’s reputation by writing positive things about [his online shop]. Odious behavior, he realized, worked much better [than SEO], and it didn’t cost him a penny."
Basically, he has thousands of links from a number of authoritative consumer complaint sites that cause his site to appear first for various keywords, like manufacturer names. He also claims to game Visa and MC by being more or less threatening, cheating, and obnoxious depending on his percentage of chargebacks:
"The only real limit on his antics is imposed by Visa and MasterCard. If too many customers successfully dispute charges in a given month, he can be tossed out of their networks, he says. Precisely how many of these charge-backs is too many is one of the few business subjects that [this fellow] deems off the record, but suffice it to say he tracks that figure carefully and dials down the animus if he’s nearing his limit. Until the next month arrives, when he dials it back up again."
Note that I have deliberately never mentioned this individual's name or the name of his "business." I have deleted it from quotes and used brackets to signify my deletions. Not sure if this should be in Ecommerce or Google SEO.
| 8:42 pm on Nov 28, 2010 (gmt 0)|
Reading it, i kept looking up expecting to see The Onion's banner, not NYT. Felt like it had to be parody.
I wish it was.
| 10:25 pm on Nov 28, 2010 (gmt 0)|
I can see it possibly getting him a higher overall ranking. But all the other stuff is a little hard to believe. The guy is going to resort to photographing people's residences and stuff? How would you even have time to do that and run a business? It wouldn't even be worth it. Imagine all the hassle with court stuff and everything else. And how long are you going to get away with actually physically threatening people and stuff, before somebody does something about it. Seems a little far fetched to me. Even if it works now, it's not going to work forever. Eventually he's going to mess with the wrong person, and it's going to bite him in the a**. That's assuming it's even for real.
| 11:39 pm on Nov 28, 2010 (gmt 0)|
He got the house photo from Google Street View. He's been reported to the AG of NY, where he lives. That was a while ago. He's been arrested for stalking, but he is not in jail. His search position is verifiable. He is on the first page when you do a search for manufacturer + widget.
I feel very relieved I did not buy my most recent widget from him a couple months ago. I remember thinking that with those prices, these must be Chinese knockoffs. If I want Chinese widgets, I can get them for less at a street market.
Did you read what Google had to say about it? I'll translate: "Duh wha huh?" Arrogant fools gamed by a stupid bully who's about as subtle as a brick. I don't know what irritated me more--this guy's slavery to the dollar or Google's arrogance.
| 11:47 pm on Nov 28, 2010 (gmt 0)|
He doesn't need to photograph someone's house, Google has done it with streetview already, making it very easy to do & has their address from the delivery address provided when ordering.
It shouldn't take long for something to happen about this now that it's had so much publicity, hopefully
| 12:14 am on Nov 29, 2010 (gmt 0)|
I forgot about street view. Well... I think anybody willing to risk getting repeatedly arrested, just to sell stuff on line... probably isn't exactly hitting on all eight cylinders. And if that's the case (which it seems it is), then in my experience... people like that usually just spiral down further until they aren't around anymore. Sounds to me like the insanity came first, and the "strategy" was an afterthought.
However, I've felt for a while that there is sort of a dark side to G's search algorithms. I can't complain too much, because I was amazed to find I'm number 1 in many of my keywords the other day. I have no idea how the heck that happen. But I've also noticed that a couple rare negative posts about me now come up as number one for that product, or me in general. Whereas positive comments are well below that. How/why that is, I have no idea. But yes, it's annoying.
| 2:02 am on Nov 30, 2010 (gmt 0)|
Same here Deejay. I thought for a second, is this April 1.
Fascinating find, HRoth.
| 12:33 pm on Nov 30, 2010 (gmt 0)|
What gets me is how many people do not do chargebacks on businesses like this. The company I was puzzling about before I saw this article has been in business for years. On a rating site, it has about 300 negative reviews and about 17 positive ones, most of which appear to have been posted by the owner in drag. There was another company just as bad that had hundreds of negative reviews and not a single positive one until they finally demanded their listing be removed, claiming it was a conspiracy, when it fact they are just thieves. Many of the comments give great detail about what happened with the purchase. Almost no one mentions doing a chargeback. Maybe it is like being conned--people don't want to admit to their bank they got ripped off? I don't get that part.
| 2:06 pm on Nov 30, 2010 (gmt 0)|
HRoth, we never suffer chargebacks. Not in years, which is odd.
We're very conservative to whom we sell. Our products are low risk. But we do take rare orders that appear to have some risk. You'd think we get stung occasionally. Once or twice a year we get a phone call from someone who questions a charge but that's usually where one spouse does the shopping and the other pays the bills and doesn't recognize our name on their statement.
Total lack of chargebacks suggests that many card owners don't check their statements for fraudulent purchases. Or perhaps small chargebacks are absorbed by the card company. But in these difficult times neither scenario seems likely.
Too, is it possible that heavily indebted consumers fear their cards may be yanked if they request too many chargebacks?
| 4:01 pm on Nov 30, 2010 (gmt 0)|
made me a little ill reading this story. i'd rather go dig ditches than treat people like garbage. i do believe that side of the internet, where ashwipes flourish, will eventually end - after all, we are still a fairly young thang.
| 9:14 pm on Nov 30, 2010 (gmt 0)|
|What gets me is how many people do not do chargebacks on businesses like this. The company I was puzzling about before I saw this article has been in business for years. On a rating site, it has about 300 negative reviews and about 17 positive ones, most of which appear to have been posted by the owner in drag. There was another company just as bad that had hundreds of negative reviews and not a single positive one until they finally demanded their listing be removed, claiming it was a conspiracy, when it fact they are just thieves. Many of the comments give great detail about what happened with the purchase. Almost no one mentions doing a chargeback. Maybe it is like being conned--people don't want to admit to their bank they got ripped off? I don't get that part. |
I was talking about this on the PP "not as described" issue... In my experience, most honest people are shy, ill-informed, or simply don't have the time to deal with issues like scams. ie: they write it off just to save themselves the grief. It always seems like it's the people who LEAST likely deserve to be doing charge-backs and/or demanding refunds and other stuff, that are the people always doing it... and it's those cranks and cons that manipulate the system the most. So in other words... The protections put in place are utilized the least by the people who really deserve to use them. But the same could be said for more than just internet sales... Which is why socialism will never work in the US. But that's a whole nother can of worms. :-)
| 10:09 pm on Nov 30, 2010 (gmt 0)|
Some of the complaints I read were from people who had lost hundreds of dollars on a purchase. I don't understand not doing a chargeback on something like that. They seem to think that the BBB is the only entity that can get their money back for them, and a company like the one in the article or the one I was puzzling over before I saw that article have F ratings with the BBB and don't respond to any BBB communications.
jsinger, your idea that people are afraid that doing chargebacks will negatively affect their standing with the CC company makes sense to me.
| 6:40 am on Dec 1, 2010 (gmt 0)|
So if I start making complaints about myself, my google ranking will get better? Is this the new face of seo?
| 1:15 pm on Dec 1, 2010 (gmt 0)|
Making complaints about oneself would be risky. HOWEVER what about a "complaint" that most readers would view as an endorsement?
For example: "Since I'm on a diet I ordered a birthday cake from XYZ.com that was small. But the cake that arrived was much bigger than pictured."
Hard to top a bunch of endorsements from PR7+ sites!
| 6:09 am on Dec 7, 2010 (gmt 0)|
Update: "U.S. Arrests Online Seller Who Scared Customers"
"In an interview with a reporter from The New York Times in October, Mr. Borker maintained that scaring Ms. Rodriguez — and dozens of other customers in the last three years — enhanced the standing of [his site] in Internet searches on Google. That was because Google’s algorithm, he claimed, was unable to distinguish between praise and complaints. All of the negative postings translated into buzz, he said, which helped push [his site] higher in search results and increased his sales."
"It is unclear if Mr. Borker was right about the cause of [his site] surprisingly strong showing in online searches. But last week, Google published a post on its official blog stating that it had changed its search formula so that companies were penalized if they provided customers with what it called “an extremely poor user experience.”
| 6:16 am on Dec 7, 2010 (gmt 0)|
"changed?", or were grateful they had yet one more nifty widget of datum to put into their obscenely bloated algorithm? :)
| 7:03 am on Dec 7, 2010 (gmt 0)|
The guy has serious issues.
Funny, the Postal dudes got a nut I encountered once as well. Viva Postal Inspectors!
| 5:38 pm on Dec 7, 2010 (gmt 0)|
Online equivalent of Mel Brook's Broadway/film hit "The Producers" about a sleazy theatrical promoter who discovers he can make more money with a surefire musical flop than with a quality production.
Also echos of Seinfeld's "Soup Nazi" character.
Too. in the web's early days, some here argued that godawful looking commerce sites could be very effective... Referring to those all-on-one-page monstrosities that tended to use things like red text on yellow backgrounds.