Friday, December 10, 2010

When A Bully Games the System - Store Owner Bullies Customers to Win More Business

An eyeglass store owner in New York is accused of bullying customers as part of a bizarre marking campaign.

The NY Times quotes from a blog post supposedly written by the store owner:
“Hello, My name is Stanley with,” 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.”

Perhaps this strategy was working?  Evidently when searching for eyeglass brands, names, places to order online, his store was indeed popping up in the coveted spot:  on page #1.

A few more quotes from the NY Times article just to drive the point home:

The NY Times asks "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?”

This is disappointing but not surprising that a merchant would try to game the system.  I wrote a piece on my "word for the week" a while back about "Google Juicing" where celebrities or merchants pump up stories to juice the search results on Google, even if it is negative publicity.

On December 7, the Huffington Post reported that Assistant U.S. Attomey E. Danya Perry brought the owner of the store into custody.  He is being held without bail.  They also reported that U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael H. Dolinger says there was sufficient information to believe that Mr. Vitaly Borker was considered a danger to the community.

At this point, complaints have also been filed with the FTC.  Mr. Borker has been charged with cyberstalking, interstate threats, mail fraud, and wire fraud.  He could face up to 50 years in prison if found guilty of all the charges.

Google has announced that they are making changes to their algorithms to hopefully avoid this bullying form of Google juicing to get more business.

"Vitaly Borker ARRESTED:  Alleged 'Bully' Online Retailer Apprehended in New York", Larry Neumeister, Huffington Post, December 7, 2010.

"A Bully Finds a Pulpit on the Web", David Segal, New York Times, November 26, 2010.

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