Twitter, WordPress, Ning & GoDaddy All Sued In Mistargeted Lawsuit Over Defamation

from the someone-please-learn-section-230 dept

Last week, a lawsuit involving an allegedly defamatory Twitter message about a landlord made the news. This week, we've got another defamation suit involving another Twitter message and a condo building, but the situation here is quite different. First, if the alleged facts are true, it does sound like it could be defamation. It involves some condo owners, and who used Twitter, blogs and other websites to apparently accuse the condo board president of a variety of things including "murder, bribery, extortion, illicit payoffs, and corruption." Assuming those things are untrue, it would appear that the guy targeted by all this, Daniel Neiditch, has a decent defamation claim.

However, rather than just sue those folks responsible for the message, Neiditch's lawyers appear to have sued pretty much every company that these messages could loosely be associated with, including Twitter, WordPress, Ning, and GoDaddy. As Sam Bayard notes in the link, it appears that Neiditch's lawyers appear not to know about Section 230 of the CDA. That's a pretty big one for your lawyers to miss when filing a lawsuit like this. Ultimately, all four of those companies should have the case easily dismissed under Section 230, but it will be a waste of time and money in the meantime.

Of course, even if they were totally unaware of Section 230, basic common sense should tell you that these sites, hosting the content (or the domain, in the case of GoDaddy) should never be responsible for what was written on those sites. Going after them as a part of the lawsuit appears to be a blatant money grab, by trying to tie any company to the lawsuit, no matter how ridiculous the connection is between the actual action and the company. There really ought to be sanctions against lawyers who do such things, because it happens way too often.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Aug 5th, 2009 @ 8:48am

    Harrumph.

    I used to work for GoDaddy (not anymore, couldn't stand the corporate culture).

    GoDaddy was founded by a lawyer--and today, he's a lawyer with LOTS of money.

    Good luck to this guy... he doesn't stand a chance in at least one of these lawsuits.

     

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  2.  
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    Jrosen (profile), Aug 5th, 2009 @ 8:50am

    And the idiocy continues

    I really have to wonder, day after day... just how the hell our country is even still here with all of the idiocy and lack of basic common-sense of purportedly intelligent people. WHO can think that suing the site something is posted on is legal and worth anything? We take offense too easily, act far too irrationally, and just seem to have stopped having a clue as a nation. I know there are intelligent people out there. But sometimes it seems like a Sisyphus-ian task to actually find them.

     

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  3.  
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    Andrew (profile), Aug 5th, 2009 @ 8:52am

    There are sanctions

    Look up "rule 11 sanctions".... I don't know why these aren't applied more often, especially to cases like this.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2009 @ 9:04am

    Re: There are sanctions

    Before you get to "rule 11" or even "section 230", you have to find out if there is any missing data.

    Example, has this guy previously contacted these companies to make them aware of the abuse? Is there any action that any of them could have reasonably taken to stop this abuse? Is the type of posts made on these services the type of thing that other users might be "termed" for?

    if they were notified and did nothing, potentially (but not likely) they would be validly in the lawsuit. Basically, they may be called to show that they treated his complaints (if any made) in a manner similar to other complaints they have received. While this is all unlikely to surpass the section 230 requirements, itisn't entirely frivolous.

    Again, we are missing much of the information, and as a result this "blog entry about a blog entry" could be misleading - and to be fair, my comments about a blog entry about a blog entry could also be misleading.

     

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  5.  
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    Ryan, Aug 5th, 2009 @ 9:10am

    Re: And the idiocy continues

    The irrationality is not really in suing the wrong party when you may get a larger settlement(they don't do it because they honestly believe Twitter, GoDaddy, etc. are to blame, but to get money). The irrationality is in the system and laws that allow this to actually work--if this never worked, or if the penalty for suing frivolously was sufficiently higher than the potential reward, then it wouldn't occur--and that we allow them continued existence. Why have we not implemented tort reform? Those obstacles are the true irrationality.

     

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  6.  
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    Bobby Harris, Aug 5th, 2009 @ 9:32am

    Lawyer?

    I thought the guy who started GoDaddy was a programmer who had gone to school for accounting..

    Unless there's someone else involved.

    In any case - if everything they wrote was on paper are they going to sue the office supply store, pan manufacturer and the lumberjacks who took down the original tree????

    Not to mention whomever PLANTED that tree!!

     

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  7.  
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    Dave04, Aug 5th, 2009 @ 9:33am

    Well... are we really surprised? We are often bombarded with news of schools lowering the bar to increase their pass rates... does it really surprise anyone that the law schools are turning out ignorant lawyers?

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2009 @ 9:36am

    Well if the RIAA and copyright trolls are getting away with phony lawsuits...

     

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  9.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 5th, 2009 @ 9:39am

    Re: Re: There are sanctions

    Example, has this guy previously contacted these companies to make them aware of the abuse? Is there any action that any of them could have reasonably taken to stop this abuse? Is the type of posts made on these services the type of thing that other users might be "termed" for?

    Section 230 is clear that none of that matters.

    if they were notified and did nothing, potentially (but not likely) they would be validly in the lawsuit.

    That's simply not true. The case law has made it abundantly clear that notification does not induce liability. It does with DMCA safe harbors, but not Section 230.

    Basically, they may be called to show that they treated his complaints (if any made) in a manner similar to other complaints they have received.

    That's not true. Section 230 has trumped that in every case.

    Again, we are missing much of the information, and as a result this "blog entry about a blog entry" could be misleading - and to be fair, my comments about a blog entry about a blog entry could also be misleading.

    Your comments about Section 230 are misleading.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2009 @ 9:39am

    All makes sense now!

    Very unfortunate, I feel sorry for Twitter, WordPress, Ning, and GoDaddy stock holders who are uninformed about his claim.

    This man seems to be under extreme stress if he's googling himself. I bet he needs a vacation. Maybe he can head down a few blocks and hire a layed-off Wallstreet Structured Products Manager to help take the property off his hands!

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2009 @ 10:03am

    Why stop there?

    Sue to coal company for for supplying the materials to generate the electricity that the electronics used. Sue Cisco for manufacturing the routers that the information was carried on. Sue my optometrist for allowing my eyes to see the screen with the defamation. Extrapolate from there, I'm tired.

     

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  12.  
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    John Doe, Aug 5th, 2009 @ 10:13am

    Sanctions against lawyers?

    The state of our court system is why you will never see real health care reform. Our legal system will bankrupt this country if the politicians don't do it first.

    I would love to see judges, lawyers and plaintiffs held responsible for abuse of the law. But alas, most politicians are lawyers and see no problems with the system.

     

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  13.  
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    More, Aug 5th, 2009 @ 10:15am

    People to Sue

    Sue the schools for teaching all involved to read and write.

    Sue the government for creating the Internet.

    Sue Obama because the poster interpreted the saying "Yes We Can" to mean that he had the right to post defamatory text.

    Sue my neighbor Bob. He doesn't have Internet, but his goddamn dog yips all night.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2009 @ 11:51am

    Re: Re: Re: There are sanctions

    Section 230 has amazing super powers to trump everything else. I am going to change my business to being a "host" and have anonymous people post everything on my sites. That way I am not liable for any of it, ever, even if I am contacted about it and notified.

    Nice!

     

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  15.  
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    aut, Aug 5th, 2009 @ 12:33pm

    Is this really that suprising? Every day in my office alone I see defendants attached seemingly against all logic, just to grab at a coroporate negligence claim, or vicarious liability. It's on a smaller scale and doesn't get the attention, but plaintiff's lawyers have been doing this for a long, long time. Maybe sanctions would be nice...

     

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  16.  
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    Jeff (profile), Aug 5th, 2009 @ 12:41pm

    Hmmm....

    I guess I should look in to suing Krylon as well as the masonry company that laid the wall for the graffiti on the walls outside that says I'm a dick.

     

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  17.  
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    ranger111 (profile), Aug 6th, 2009 @ 7:51am

    Neiditch Complaint

    If you read the Complaint, you can more readily infer that there are three alternative reasons for the pleaading of the provider defendants: (i) the defamatory posts are anonymous and the plaintiffs are trying to find out who the actual posters are; (ii) the plaintiffs want the defamatory posts taken down; and (iii) GoDaddy, contrary to its supposed policy, is allowing masking sites and this is a way of telling them about the damage from enforcing its policy.

    Section 230 is a change from the common law rule. So without section 230, the Complaint would be just fine. With section 230, the plaintiffs are aggressively attempting to succeed on what is otherwise a decent defamation case.

     

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  18.  
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    Me, Aug 6th, 2009 @ 7:53am

    Re: Harrumph.

    You're lying. Either you didn't work at GoDaddy or you were crack addicted the whole time. Bob Parsons was never a lawyer. He's he inventor of the software that is today known as QuickBooks.

     

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  19.  
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    dirtdaddy, Aug 8th, 2009 @ 8:28am

    Abuse at Godaddy

    Memoirs of an INFURIATED ex-employee

    So I just discovered this website last night. I've been searching for some place to let out all my frustration regarding GoDaddy, and this seems perfect. I was terminated about 1 month ago and have got to share my story. I wish I knew that saying all I know would prevent people from becoming customers, or from applying there... but I'm not sure it will. When I applied, I knew what I was getting in to. I worked for IPOWER previously (also Startlogic, PowWeb, and many many other apparently separate companies - all the SAME) which is made up of well over 50% ex GoDaddy employees. I've heard many horror stories, and will share them below, along with mine, and some other experiences that really shocked me.

    I'd worked there for a year, was in C3 - the inbound sales & support dept. I was not the perfect employee - I'd had several scares over losing my employment, but as with me, I always seemed to make it out OK. I guess my luck finally ran out. So here's what happened to me. About 3 weeks prior to being fired, I severely injured my back. I've had a bad back over half my life, and have missed work due to it before. I know the back excuse is often used, and it's really a hard malady to believe or sympathize with if you've never experienced it yourself. My girlfriend and Mother can attest to what I went through. I could not even walk the pain was so excruciating. Much time was spent with my gf trying to help me get out of bed, and I just couldn't stand on my own... to the point where we're both shedding tears... and I'd just have to lay back down for another 8 hours. It was absolute misery. During this time, I'd made a Dr. Appt as quickly as I could. I had to wait for my Mom to take me as I was not able to drive. I got all the documentation I needed, and was calling in each day and speaking with a supervisor to notify them of my situation. I was also sending texts to my supervisor to let him know what was up - though he never responded (DICK!). BTW - my original supervisor was Chad Brindley (cbrindley@godaddy.com) - total fucking TOOL. I'll say more about him later. My last sup was Luke Burt (rburt@godaddy.com)... who I thought I liked. Anyway, I had a tentative date set for my return to work, but as anyone who's injured their back before knows - this is not like a cold, where you know you'll be better in 3-5 days. When I originally tore the ligament in my back, I missed a total of 3 months of school... I could barely move at all. It's not fucking fun. Just to make that clear. I didn't ENJOY missing work. So, I was not able to make the tentative date as I was still in a lot of pain, so I saw the Dr. again and set another date to return at the beginning of the following week. Now... on the 5th day I was out, HR called and left me a voice mail. Which they've always done when I'd missed an extended amount of work (called on 5th day). I still have the message... there was NO indication of "This is urgent/call me back as soon as possible/YOUR JOB IS IN DANGER/etc" - nothing of the sort. The HR person (Donna Cooper - dcooper@godaddy.com), called me about 15 minutes before she left the office - I was not able to speak with her that day so I left her a msg and we spoke the next day. And she told me about a policy I've NEVER heard about in my entire employment, nor with any other employer. It states that if you miss an extended amount of time from work (5+ days) and do not CONTACT HR DIRECTLY, it's considered JOB ABANDONMENT!!! WHAT?!?! If you recall, I'd been calling in every fucking day and speaking with someone about my situation, and had been spending my own money on doctor visits and getting documentation together, when I should have just been on my back. If I was going to abandon my job, why the FUCK would I call in and go through all that? I was outraged, and told her I'd never heard that before, and emailed her everything she asked for. She told me it was not looking good but she'd do what she could for me. As I'd only been there a year, and this was my 3rd time needing extended leave due to medical reasons, I was surely becoming a liability to them. I'm not even going to get in to the amount of stress and bullshit I'd been going through working to keep my job. I'll explain that below. So I finally return to work on Tuesday, and had been told I'd get an answer by the previous Monday (HR was "reviewing" me, again, and the info was sent to Legal). No answer at all. I had a meeting with my supervisor - he knew nothing, and absolutely NO say. We spent a lot of time working on my 6 month goals, and then later in the week we had meetings to discover my team had been selected to become a strictly hosting team. The company is reorganizing and taking a new direction, and is aiming to specialize - and have inbound teams to deal with only certain issues. It was all very exciting, etc. Here I was cheering in this meeting, knowing full well I may be gone in a matter of days. Week passes - no word. I return the following week and the original GoDaddy whore, Candice Michelle, is at the office doing a meet & greet. It's so ironic that I spent my morning around this c&^$ and got fired 2 hours later. I was pulled off the phones, and followed my supervisor. He did not speak to me at all, and took me to a room I never knew existed. In the room were 4 individuals I'd never even seen before. I fucking hate being fired by people who don't even know me. The man who did it was the first shift floor manager whose name escapes me now, but he looked like a grumpy midget with long hair, glasses, and very bad hygiene. His fingernails were long and dirty, his hair was greasy, his breath was putrid, and it smelled like he'd forgotten how to shower, or just could no longer reach the areas that mattered when cleaning oneself. I had to sign all kinds of paperwork. This is the best part... of how I lost my job due to their error. I was told my extended leave paperwork was not approved in time, and as a result from being on a written for attendance already, it was 2 occurrences, which pushed me one past a final = termination. I pleaded and told them I had no idea this policy existed, and had I known I would have acted differently - if there was even anything I could have done... aside from just not getting hurt which wasn't possible. I was interrupted (!) and told Legal already made the decision and nothing further could be done. I was not allowed back into the building to get my stuff - my sup had to. They even tried to take my lanyard from me... a fucking piece of fabric with "GoDaddy" printed on it. They found this amusing. I can't believe it. Amazing. So... that's how I got fired. I was told I'd receive my check within 72 hours, it took 8 days to arrive. The day prior, I called Donna Cooper and asked about the check, and then about my termination. I told her I was still confused as to why. This is the kicker. She told me, verbatim, "It's your responsibility to stay healthy enough to make it to work." Read that again, if you need to... So... due to a complete accident that I did not have control over (I have a torn ligament in my back. It hurts, and injures easily... sorry??) I got fired. Just amazing.

    That's my story, I'd like to include a few brief stories of others being fired, and then some other things I experienced while working there that sicken me.

    My friend Jimmy, whom I'd met at IPOWER had a crazy story of getting fired. He had a bad track record with being late... and he did at IPOWER too... but everyone is still subject to the same occurrence and attendance policies. So... he was not able to make it in one day, so he called in and had it noted in Orchid (internal attendance software). The following day, he was terminated. They claimed no call/no show. They claimed to have no record of him calling in at all, and that he'd voluntarily ended his employment. He tried to show them the record on his phone, even called the phone company to get the records, which cost him $200 - but GoDaddy said they didn't care, and screwed him over completely. I mean... what else is an employee to do if they can't make it to work? You call in! If they don't keep a record of that, whose fault is it? Oh, well remember what HR says, basically the company is not responsible for terminations, employees bring it upon themselves by doing nothing wrong.

    Another friend of mine was fired for mentioning on LiveJournal that she worked for GoDaddy. She'd seen her ex applying at the Gilbert office and made a post about it, also calling him a dick. Which he is. He anonymously contacted GoDaddy and notified them of the post, and she was fired the following day. I spoke with my supervisor about it the next day to which he told me - "You can not discuss your employment here anywhere on the internet." He couldn't explain to me WHY, because Chad Brindley is a retard, just not to do it. WTF

    Another friend of mine was fired for what appeared like a true liability case. She did not do anything to cause going past a final corrective action, wasn't late one too many times, deleting customer's stuff, nothing to immediately cause termination. She was just pulled off the phones one day, and her supervisor went over all of the different warnings she was on, and they'd decided it was too many, and fired her. None were finals. There were just... too many. Huh

    It's impossible to work for GoDaddy and not be on Corrective Actions. Everyone I know there is written up for something at all times. My main struggle was between sales and calls per day. These 2 metrics are extremely difficult to maintain regularly. If I'm going to try and make a sale, which involves consulting with customers and pitching products - my call is going to take a lot longer. So, if I'm trying to bump up calls per day, I can't spend as much time doing that. I was juggling writtens and finals for both for probably 6 months before getting fired. The expectations at GoDaddy are absolutely ridiculous and inhuman. It's extremely difficult to maintain them constantly. And over time, they continue to raise expectation of what to do on each call, yet metric requirements are not adjusted accordingly. Like when the new QA system came out, which by the way you have to meet certain QA standards to make bonus, we were required to do 10 times more shit on each call, and still adhere to the same metric requirements. It's insane.

    Here are some examples of horrible things I've witnessed the company do to customers. Redemption is a common problem - when someone does not renew their domain in a certain timeframe, they have to pay $80 on top of a renewal fee. There were many cases where I'd found that no contact was coming from the company to the customer to notify them of the situation... just suddenly one day their website was gone and they had to pay a ton of money to get it back. On one hand it is the customer's responsibility to keep their products up to date, as well as their contact information, but there were a few cases when the owner had died, and no one knew what was going on with the site. GoDaddy doesn't give a shit. They only see dollar signs everywhere they look. And the second those begin to fade, they look elsewhere. One time I got a call from a customer running a website for a very popular TV show, that I'd watched on several occasions. He'd bee using Website Tonight (oh god... how I could rant and rave about this software) - GD's proprietary website design software, to build his site. Once Internet Explorer 8 came out, we'd begun to get many many calls. Sites built in WST do not show up properly in IE 8 whatsoever. In fact, many of GoDaddy's products are riddled with compatibility issues. I spoke to a member of the design team about this - telling them this is a VERY serious problem!!! IE is the most popular browser. I was told the company is more focused on products that bring in more money than WST and nothing would be done to fix this anytime soon. I can NOT believe a company would do such a thing! I was dumbfounded by this. More times than I can count customer's websites went down for extended periods of time due to internal issues. GoDaddy does NOT compensate for any of their mistakes. You can complain to the highest levels, but will not get any free hosting time or anything of the sort. GoDaddy does not care about you or their employees. It only sees dollar signs. If you learn anything by reading my story, just remember that. Dollar signs. Also, if a customer ever forgets their password, can't receive a password reset, and can't validate the account over the phone (by giving their PIN or last 4 of payment method) they are basically screwed. There's a change of account form that can be submitted, along with a scan of your ID and many hoops to jump through... but the most that can result from this is moving a domain to a new account. If you get locked out of your account, you're basically fucked. And GoDaddy will not try to help you... due to "security reasons". Also... employees are basically told to lie to customers regarding certain issues. These are not the words used... it's usually something like... "Don't lie, but just phrase it in such a way that..." Every employee will tell you they don't work on commission - LIE. Employees have sales quotas and if they're not met can result in termination. Employees are encouraged to almost use scare tactics for certain products - like domain privacy. Also regarding legal issues.

    The last example I'll give is shocking. I had a customer one night who was going on a shopping spree buying literally hundreds of domains, all that contained copyrighted and trademarked names. They were things like budweisernews.com and the like... for all kinds of different companies. Hundreds of them. He was so surprised the domains were available and thought that the corporations would be forced to pay him to get the names back. I put the guy on hold and asked my supervisor what to do in this situation. I knew very well that the customer was infringing on copyrights and was getting himself into a gigantic legal mess by doing this. I've taken several calls where a customer reads to me a letter from a lawyer representing a corporation demanding the transfer of the domain name, along with all kinds of other documentation within a certain timeframe, or massive fines must be paid. All because their domain contains a copyrighted or trademarked name. It's an awful thing to deal with even with ONE domain. The customer was done for the night after spending over $500 on the phone with me. I was told to clearly tell him, "I cannot give legal advice regarding this, I don't know what will happen if you register these, but if you want assistance I can do it for you." - Bullshit like that. Avoiding the issue so we can get their money. The guy emailed me the next day with hundreds more names, so I had to fwd this to my sup to get approval to call him back. I included in my e-mail, "Should I mention the copyright infringements to him or not?" My supervisor completely ignored this. And I'm sure this e-mail is still archived somewhere in the system... and I know for a fact if the customer did not remove the domains, he's in a world of shit now. I was approved to call him back, and took hundreds more dollars from him... knowing full well what I was doing to this poor guy. But... Chad Brindley told me it was ok. This guy was the worst supervisor I'd ever had. He was not helpful, and only cared about sales. He would often spend his days sitting at his computer, blasting horrible hip-hop (sometimes worse, as punishment to his team for not making enough sales), and refreshing the sales screen over and over. Many times I'd approach him for help regarding a situation and before I could even speak he'd say, "You know what I'm going to tell you. Go ask a lead." After a while, I never went to him for anything. He was not doing his job. It was just dollar signs. As an after-thought, I did hear back from this customer 2 weeks later. He'd told me the last time we spoke that he wanted more and would be in touch. I never heard a thing so I e-mailed him and he responded. He told me that his family found out what he was doing and had an intervention with him and took his credit cards away. Apparently, after me, he spent an entire weekend on the website registering every variation on corporate names he could think of. It pains me to this day to remember this situation. He was a very friendly, happy, pleasant Canadian man. I can only imagine what he's going through now... Sad

    I could go on and on and on but I think I've covered what I intended. I apologize for being so long winded, but I worked my ass off for this company. I went through so much stress, and shed so many tears struggling to meet their strict requirements. GoDaddy is the SS of Customer Service. They claim to strive for world-class customer service, and try very hard to project a great image to the public. Inside, it's a soulless corporate machine. Corrupt and greedy, careless over whose lives and businesses they destroy in their quest to get more money. The company sickens me, and I wish there was more I could do. If I was offered my job back I wouldn't accept. Even though life is extremely hard for me now as I've still not found work, I will never work for a company like them again. Sure, they have great benefits and incentive programs for employees - but think about it. There's a reason they go over the top to appear so great and wonderful. They will push you to extremes and suck the life out of you. And the second you stumble they will cut you loose, like you're nothing more than a number. And that's exactly how they view you. To GoDaddy, people are disposable. They do NOT care about employees or customers. Whatever it takes to make a buck. To them, the end justifies the means.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I will answer any questions anyone has.
    « Last Edit: August 06, 2009, 10:49:03 AM by zurx »

     

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  20.  
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    Sharon, Nov 24th, 2013 @ 9:13pm

    Re: Lawyer?

    If u publish a book with libel, that is similar to hosting a site that contains libel. The tree planting ...are not comparusons

     

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


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