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Looksmart's Fraud Protection doesn't work!

10:06 pm on Jul 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

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joined:May 29, 2003
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Just got an e-mail from LookSmart telling me my click budget had been reached in less than half the time it normally takes (based on the last 4 months of traffic).

Checking out my server logs, I see my site was pounded continually over the last several weeks by a small range of IP addresses in China (218.17.x.x and 218.18.x.x) -- they apparently clicked on the same search results again and again, every few minutes, all day long, for many days straight.

LookSmart claims they have some kind of fraud protection that will avoid charging me for multiple clicks from the same host, but when I get clicked on continually for hours at a time, I end up getting billed anyway.

I've sent a refund request in to LookSmart customer service and am in the process of getting my hosting provider to ban the entire range of IP addresses, but that won't do anything to keep them from clicking on the search results.

Any suggestions on how I should handle this? I'm not going to fund my campaign any more until I know it won't happen again. But I really like using LookSmart, as my site shows up at the top of the results for the most important keyword I have (which is probably why the other site was clicking me to death...)

5:25 pm on July 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member jeremy_goodrich is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

joined:Aug 4, 2000
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I would take this type of thing up with LookSmart direct & vote with your wallet.

Overture will get you into MSN as well, and has great fraud protection from all accounts.

For my money, *if* I don't get satisfaction, I take great pleasure in telling the company that they will no longer have me as a customer -> and then I tell all my friends "don't do business with XYZ".

It's only fair, a statistic I once heard is if you get great service, you tell 3 people. Lousy service, and you tell 25 -> don't know if it's only in the USA or not, but interesting non the less.

Do let us know if they resolve the situation favorably for you or not.

3:12 am on July 15, 2003 (gmt 0)


WebmasterWorld Administrator skibum is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

joined:Sept 20, 2000
votes: 1

Good luck with customer service. There are lots of companies that have better customer service than LookSmart ;)
3:23 pm on July 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Still no response from Looksmart customer service.

And I'm starting to notice the decrease in traffic (and sales) from not having my Looksmart listing active.

I use Overture and AdWords already, and for the per click cost, Looksmart was a better deal for the particular keyword I was using. I used to be at the top of the SERPS on MSN for my keyword, now I'm buried at #53, with the results coming from my Inktomi paid listing.

Of interest, I notice now that the #1 search result on MSN for my keyword is a Chinese company who was *never* in the results until just a few days ago. And all fraudulent clicks I was getting were from China. Hmmmmm... I smell a connection...

The only way to reactivate my account is to increase my monthly budget YET AGAIN -- had to do it twice already over the last 3 months. And I'm not going to do it until I'm sure I'll get quality clicks. But the dip in traffic is starting to hurt!

6:23 pm on July 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Quick followup:

Got an e-mail from LookSmart customer service, they refunded about 80% of my monthly budget due to the fraudulent clicks and asked for a server log snippet showing the fraud.

The only glitch is that they issued the refund directly to my credit card, and not to my account. So my account is still "suspended" until the beginning of the next billing cycle (another 6 days). The only way to reactivate the account earlier than that would be to increase my budget, which I'm not going to do.

So I asked them to reactivate and put the credit back into my account, but haven't seen any results yet. I'm also not convinced that the fraud won't happen again as soon as my account is reactivated, but we'll have to wait and see.