If You're Thinking Of Paying People To Talk Nice About Your Company Online, It Probably Won't End Well

from the ethics? dept

A company called Cash4Gold, which pays people for unwanted gold items, gained some notoriety this week on the back of its Super Bowl ad, which featured Ed McMahon with a golden toilet and MC Hammer with a gold medallion of himself wearing a gold medallion. But it's also getting some more press online after somebody doing online "marketing" for it apparently emailed a guy that had written an unflattering story about the company and offered to pay him to take it down or rewrite it (via Boing Boing). The search results for the company feature some pretty unfavorable stories about it, but evidently instead of cleaning up its act, Cash4Gold would rather just splash out some Cash4Silence. This comes a few weeks after a Belkin employee got busted trying to pay people to write positive reviews about its products on Amazon. It's hardly surprising that companies do this sort of thing, but the potential downside of getting caught (not to mention the ethical concerns) should give them pause.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 1:04pm

    Maybe it's a Novel idea, but offer customers a fair deal, treat them with respect - and just possibly; people may say good things.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 1:20pm

    I love that someone bought google ads so when you search "cash4gold", the cockeyed site is listed. And there's a link on boingboing to Joe Laratro (the guy who sent the emails) defending himself and how much he loved working for cash4.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Ima Fish, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 1:24pm

    Note to self:

    Write unfavorable blog post about Cash4Gold.

    Wait for offer to come.

    Sell soul, accept offer, and change blog post.

    Cash check.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Mr Big Content, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 1:32pm

    C0pyR1ghT Infr1ng0rZ!!!

    I own the rights to the story about people being paid to write more flattering stories about the company. So you can’t write about that story without my permission.

    Oh, and I also own the rights to the story about people being prevented from writing about the story about people being paid to write more flattering stories about the company, because of somebody owning the rights. So you can’t write about that either.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Enid of Enoughborough, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 1:35pm

    Ethical Concerns?

    Do you really think Cash4Gold has any "ethical concerns?"

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 1:43pm

    Re: C0pyR1ghT Infr1ng0rZ!!!

    That wasn't funny. Shut up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 1:49pm

    Re:

    Maybe it's a Novel idea, but offer customers a fair deal, treat them with respect - and just possibly; people may say good things.

    But that probably costs more than just paying people to lie for you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Lance, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 1:54pm

    It must be a movement!

    After writing two poor feedback comments for two different companies on Amazon I received emails from both companies offering to write off the shipping costs, or write off the whole purchase if I would just delete the poor feedback.

    One gentleman was very assertive and wrote several emails. I just told them both to improve their service and if that failed to live with their feedback.

    I wonder what Amazon does to these poor companies if their feedback is poor? The companies sure seem motivated to eliminate negative comments.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    :Lobo Santo, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 1:54pm

    Re: Re:

    It may cost more; but I'm sure it eventually pays better.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Rick, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 1:56pm

    Re:

    There's always a pay day waiting for the unscrupulous.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    chris (profile), Feb 4th, 2009 @ 2:01pm

    Re:

    Maybe it's a Novel idea, but offer customers a fair deal, treat them with respect - and just possibly; people may say good things.

    go back to canada hippie. this is america, we don't need your socialist propaganda here.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 2:26pm

    Re: Re: C0pyR1ghT Infr1ng0rZ!!!

    What are talking about? It was hilarious, completely irrelevant, but still hilarious.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Feb 4th, 2009 @ 3:54pm

    Surely, it doesn't take a genius to realise that a person writing a negative review won't always accept a bribe? That someone complaining about a company's actions will often be led by their own morals rather than money?

    I could possibly understand (but not approve of) a company paying random bloggers and sites to write positive reviews. But, an attempt to silence critics will *always* blow up in your face.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    bobArlington, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 4:04pm

    Reputation Matters - Or, Schill Schill Schill

    To quote the master(s)

    KRUSTY: I guess you Wall Street weasels didn't get the word -- Krusty's not for sale!
    EXEC1: But you endorse everything! In fact, this endorsement contract comes from your line of legal forms!
    KRUSTY: [takes a look] That's a quality form.. but those days are behind me! I don't shill for nobody no more!
    EXEC1: Are you sure? We're prepared to offer you a free fully loaded Canyonero!

    Shills are among us. It's why reputation counts. I find Amazon reviews to be very useful. But every now in then it just smells like the reviews are inflated. LOTS of positive reviews that say basically nothing. Click on the reviewers and sure enuf, this is their one and only review. Shills usually smell and are transparent.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 4:38pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    It may cost more; but I'm sure it eventually pays better.

    Only if you get caught. If this guy at Belkin gets fired it won't be for hiring people to lie, it will be for getting caught.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Kennard Yamada, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 6:10pm

    How about this...

    Boss: Find a way to get rid of these negative reviews!
    Employee: Uh, how?
    Boss: Do whatever it takes, pay them if you have to!
    Employee: But that seems kind of unscrupe...
    Boss: Do it or you're fired!

    Once caught:
    Boss: Look at this mess you got us into! You're fired!
    Employee: I quit my job at Circuit City for this?

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    John, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 9:29pm

    Could someone explain Cash4Gold...

    Could someone explain the Cash4Gold process? You send them your gold, they receive it, they pull a number out of their *** (head), and they send you a check?
    Um, shouldn't you be physically be there when they "appraise" your items? How do you know they're even appraising everything they sent you? What if they're claiming your package is worth $2.00, when it has $30 worth of gold in it? And if you dispute this number, how do you get your stuff back? It's not like you can leave the store: you're now counting on them sending it back to you, hoping it doesn't get "lost" on the way.

    The bottom line: Cash4Gold might be an honest company, but how in the world do you know they're not ripping you off?

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Monarch, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 9:49pm

    Re: Could someone explain Cash4Gold...

    Read the articles, one ex-employee of Cash4Gold spells it all out.

    Basically you send them your gold in a pre-paid shipping box that is only insured for $100. So don't ship anything you think is worth more than $100, because they sometimes lose stuff, and you can't add more insurance to it. When they get it, they appraise it for about 1/3 the actual value, cut you a check, wait a few days to mail the check. You receive the check sometime after the 7th day since the check was cut, and you only have 10 days from the date on the check to dispute it if you feel it was too low. If you are able to get through and dispute it in time, they will cut you a bonus check for more if you raise a big enough stink.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Rick Sarvas, Feb 5th, 2009 @ 9:42am

    -

    To me, the problem is not really with Cash4Gold (or similar services), but with the people using the service itself. If you have an item that you suspect that has more value than the scrap value of the metal itself you really need to try to find out the true value of that item rather than just taking someone's word for it. Operations like this make money because they make the process of giving you a small amount money of items that you send them VERY easy. On the back end, they probably take your item, fully appraise it and then sell it on for a more realistic price or just sell it for scrap value of the metal. Since you've been given a fraction of the scrap value either method of disposing of your former item is profitable.

    Using a service like this makes about as much sense as selling something to a pawn shop - though at least at a pawn shop you can always walk away with the item if you don't like the price. Using an online service (not just Cash4Gold), you don't have that option.

    Seriously, if you don't do your research when you buy something and then find out later you got screwed in the deal, why should selling something be different?

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 11:37pm

    Poor Ed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Carrie, Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 5:32pm

    I read a ton of Cash4Gold articles today and thought this was interesting http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/cash4gold-provides-cash-for-the,948814.shtm l

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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