Audio Equipment Manufacturer Threatens Amazon Reseller With 'Mandatory Jail Time'

from the 'boil-in-the-torment-of-hell'-also-listed-as-possible-legal-recourse dept

Part Whatever of our ongoing series How Not To Do Business brings us the story of a high-end audio device manufacturer badly misunderstanding how the Right of First Sale works. Velodyne, a Silicon Valley-located company, recently decided to take a very aggressive stance against an Amazon reseller who purchased a pair of earphones and resold them for a profit.

The full thread at Amazon's forums uncovers a lot of useful information during the 136-message sprawl but it all begins with a threatening pseudo-C&D email, loaded with legal threats that aren't actually legal and a strident mangling of English that suggests Velodyne's bogus legal threat division is outsourced.

Reseller 20YearsUSAF posted this to kick off the thread:

Hello,
This is a notice to inform the entity “20YearsUSAF” dealer and seller on Amazon.com and other internet selling locations to be discovered, of our engagement representing Velodyne Acoustics Inc, a privately owned company located in Morgan Hill, CA.

We are forthwith enlisted our services to protect price integrity by seeking public fractures and selling contract terms and illegal selling of products by unauthorized distributors and dealers on the internet in the USA and overseas. [ed. note: wat]

This is a notice of legal prosecution for illegal selling of Velodyne Acoustics, Inc. products and goods. You will be pursued and prosecuted unless you withdraw all products for sale by Velodyne immediately as of 9/13/14. “20YearsUSAF” selling will cease and desist for 2014-2019, under this name or other alias names or entities to be discovered by our agency. Discovery of “20YearsUSAF” using other alias identity to continue selling after this notice will compound fines and may incur mandatory jail sentencing of offenders. Continued unauthorized selling under this business name or alias name, as identified through discovery and witnesses, will put this business and its owners at risk of fines and legal prosecution.

Continue selling carries the penalty and minimum of $250,000 fine.

Sock and Bruster Internet Policing Services Inc. LPC, Legal Prosecution and Collection Agency
First off, there is no such thing as "illegal selling" of Velodyne products. Anyone can resell anything they purchased from Velodyne, which is what this seller did. What seems to be the issue (uncovered later in the threat) is that 20YearsUSAF bought one deeply discounted by Velodyne at its site and flipped it to turn a profit. Nothing illegal about that. (A forum member notes that similar notices have been sent to ebay resellers.)

The legal threats following that are for remedies that don't exist. Counterfeit goods may be illegal but reselling legitimate products isn't. Velodyne can't ban anyone from selling its products for a half-decade. It can prevent unauthorized resellers from listing themselves as "authorized" but that's it. The fact that the reseller is an Amazon reseller means it's up to Amazon to delist, ban or otherwise prevent 20YearsUSAF from using its platform. Velodyne can provided evidence why it should take this action but it can't just declare this in an email and consider it done. Needless to say, there are no "compound fines" or "mandatory jail sentencings" awaiting 20YearsUSAF.

Finally, "Sock and Bruster" is completely made up. This company does not exist.

Velodyne clearly doesn't like unauthorized resellers. It has a whole page on its website discussing this as well as a list of blackballed resellers it's uncovered that aren't actually authorized. 20YearsUSAF now heads that list. It's perfectly fine to restrict warranty coverage, etc. to only authorized resellers. What's not acceptable is declaring that anyone who hasn't signed an authorized reseller contract is forbidden from reselling items they purchased from Velodyne. As long as they're not misleading customers about their authorized/unauthorized status, there's not a damn thing Velodyne can do about it.

Here's where issue #2 comes into play. 20YearsUSAF listed this item as "new," which would lead buyers to believe it was still covered by the manufacturer's warranty. According to Velodyne's terms, only sales by authorized sellers receive that coverage. It's a problem, but one that should have been taken up by reporting the listing to Amazon rather than deploying the email nuke as the opening gambit. (20YearsUSAF has pulled similar listings and other forum members have told him/her to use "like new" in the future for goods like these, even if unopened, because many companies will not honor a transferred warranty.)

The next email 20YearsUSAF received was shorter but it wasn't any better.
"Since you bought the headphones from Velodyne, then you are an authorized dealer who signed a contract on selling policy. You are using an alias to hide your identity to perform illegal activity, and will be prosecuted as such. With the new laws, we finally have the clout to clean up these sales. There are new laws in place and more laws coming soon to protect Manufacturers from unauthorized selling.

My advice is to find another way to make a living, quickly."
The tactics shift. Now Velodyne is accusing the Amazon seller of violating a contractual agreement by selling headphones under a fake name. It references "new laws" but doesn't cite anything and, again, makes claims about "unauthorized selling" that really don't have anything to do with the issue at hand -- the right of first sale. And then there's the little threatening dig at the end.

It also seems to imply that simply purchasing an item from Velodyne enters you into a resale contract, which obviously isn't true. There's nothing about it in the Terms and Conditions Velodyne says you agree to when purchasing its products.
Finally, 20YearsUSAF received another email, this one much more conciliatory.

I am trying to make a go of a company that supports the livelihood of 80 employees. If our prices are undercut on a regular basis, then we lose integrity and retail stores will not put us in their stores to sell.

Velodyne is a small company, not like Sony or Bose. We don't have millions of dollars for marketing and our costs are high. Retail stores are going out of business and what we have left is selling online from our home grown website. This is our hope to sustain the business.

I'm glad you are not an unauthorized seller making a business out of selling Velodyne online.


It sounds like you work hard and I appreciate you writing back.
Even amidst the call for sympathy, a sense of misplaced entitlement remains. "If our prices are undercut on a regular basis" makes no sense when the buyer purchased headphones Velodyne itself offered at a reduced price. If that price doesn't make Velodyne money, then that's Velodyne's problem. Someone reselling it at a profit (thanks to the discount) doesn't take money away from it. Velodyne already gave up that money when it agreed to sell X product at Y price. It can't look at someone else's good fortune and decide that because the reseller made more money than it did, the reseller must be doing something "illegal."

A response from Amazon further settles the issue:
Greetings from Amazon Seller Support, Thank you for writing to us. I understand from your correspondence that another seller named Velodyne has asked you to remove the listings of their products which you are selling on Amazon.com. I would like to inform and assure you that as long as there is any copyright/trademark notice brought to Amazon's notice by the brand owner/manufacturer, all sellers are free to list whatever products they wish to on Amazon.com.

The only condition is to ensure that the products they are selling are exactly the same products that the listings had been created for. In this case there has nothing wrong been done from your end. Therefore there is absolutely no need for you to delete the listings.
Velodyne's decision to shoot first may end up hurting it more than an authorized dealer buying at wholesale and reselling the products under aliases would. Deciding to ride out the gut instinct that it was being abused by a contractual partner only served to make it look foolish and vindictive, especially when the legal "remedies" listed had no basis in reality. We're used to seeing bogus legal threats in which the threats themselves are bogus. We don't often see bogus legal threats where the potential punishments are conjured out of thin air and the laws that don't exist are quasi-cited in support.

If this isn't the case, and Velodyne just doesn't like people reselling goods at a price higher than it sells them for, then it should probably exit the retail business -- or at least stop offering price breaks it can't afford.

If Velodyne has the suspicion that one or more of its authorized sellers are violating their contractual agreements, it needs to keep it to itself until it has enough supporting evidence. Then it needs to realize that outside of counterfeit goods, its legal remedies won't include jail time or anything outside of civil lawsuits. By rushing to judgement, it has made potential purchasers wary of dealing with it -- not just for potential interference in perfectly legal resale, but in terms of any negative reviews that might be greeted with similar threatening emails.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 4:20am

    To put it mildly

    By rushing to judgement, it has made potential purchasers wary of dealing with it

    I'd never even heard of the company before this point, but now that I have, I know for a fact that they are someone I will never buy from, as they seem all too eager to go 'legal' on their customers, sending fraudulent 'legal' threats to those that irk them.

    'Wary' would be somewhat of an understatement.

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

    • icon
      Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 7:30am

      Re: To put it mildly

      I'd never even heard of the company before this point,
      I have - in fact I've owned a Velodyne sub for several years. At some point in the near future I will probably sell the kit I have and upgrade.

      Guess which manufacturer will not be in the upgrade list?

      Looks like they are making the most of that tiny marketing budget, huh?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2014 @ 2:00pm

      Re: To put it mildly

      Dont make me "Sock and Bruster" you over this illegal comment.

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

  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 4:49am

    There's no link to the original listing? This is rather short-sighted, because there's no accountability to what was said in the listing to determine if Velodyne has a legitimate claim as to "reseller".

    There are a ton of "shops" on Amazon which aren't controlled or monitored by the site. Knock-offs run amok on the site, and it's getting impossible to distinguish a typical seller from a legitimate retailer.

    I'm not saying Velodyne is right, but without the original link to the article being sold, it's pretty difficult to jump on the Insta-Hate Bandwagon(tm) that TD is setting up here.

    Reselling an item is definitely covered. Lying to people under the guise it's a brand new item and is sold through an online store is borderline seller fraud.

    It's one thing to sell these on ebay as an owner, but it's quite another to sell them as a business.

    A huge difference, that's somehow being overlooked in this article.

    I expect an update, especially since other sellers are actively stating the seller was misleading with their original selling page regarding the use of "New".

    Velodyne might not be handling the issue well, but I certainly see no reason to criticize them so harshly while tilting the scales unfairly.

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

    • icon
      Rikuo (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 6:11am

      Re:

      "It's one thing to sell these on ebay as an owner, but it's quite another to sell them as a business.

      A huge difference, that's somehow being overlooked in this article."

      How so? And what difference does it make to this article? This article's point is all about the bullshit legal threats from Velodyne. If someone else is buying product from them and then re-selling them marked as "new", that's a separate issue. What this article is talking about is the one company threatening mandatory jail time with no justification for where it's getting this supposed judicial power from.

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

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 6:11am

      Re:

      Lying to people under the guise it's a brand new item and is sold through an online store is borderline seller fraud.

      That's true, but in the letters we saw, that wasn't even mentioned. Assuming we have the whole story, either Velodyne wasn't aware of that issue, or wasn't concerned by it. At any rate, as Tim said the way to deal with that is to raise the issue with the seller and if it's not addressed report it to Amazon.

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

    • icon
      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 6:19am

      Re:

      This argument comes up a lot: "Threat about action A is valid because action B happened". Except action A isn't illegal and action B wasn't in the not-so-legal paperwork.

      Misleading the customer wasn't ever mentioned in the E-Mail threat. All that was mentioned was the "illegal selling of products by unauthorized distributors and dealers". Not actually illegal.

      As for "new" vs. "like new", I would have made that mistake as well. It's brand new, in the box, with it's shrink wrap. It's new. Ether way, this issue was fixed when other people pointed it out (Velodyne didn't even mention it).

      Add on top of that Amazon looking into it with their legal experience and saying it's perfectly fine. I think this article points out everything that's needed.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2014 @ 8:42am

        Re: Re:

        "As for "new" vs. "like new", I would have made that mistake as well. It's brand new, in the box, with it's shrink wrap. It's new."

        What mistake? if its never been opened its new, not like new.
        Had it been opened and put back in the box, then it would be like new since its been 'used' even if for a very brief amount of time.

        http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/new
        "not used by anyone else previously"
        "recently bought, rented, etc."

        Something can be purchased 'recently bought', and if 'not used' would still fit the definition of 'new'

        I also do not feel it was misleading on the sellers part for buyers to ASSUME it came with the factory warranty. Most manufacturers WILL warranty a resold item, not doing so makes your product LESS VALUABLE.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2014 @ 6:25am

      Re:

      Maybe it is new still packaged unopened the only thing that makes it misleading is the fact there the manufacturer will not replace a flawed product , but maybe the reseller will or it's an as is sale . how does this hurt the company , they made the original sale , the term Authorized is the only difference here between the reseller and possible retail stores that may carry the product.

      The only person(s) in this situation being called out for misleading and flat out lying , is in fact Velodyne.

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

    • icon
      20YearsUSAF (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 1:00pm

      Re:

      I never realized how much attention this matter would get. I am the one who put the Velodyne headphone on amazon to sell.

      I don't do this for a living. Like many amazon sellers I do this on the side - selling a few items a month for a little extra cash.

      I was not aware that I couldn't list an item as "new" if I wasn't also able to provide a warranty with the item. I would wager that most small sellers on amazon do the same thing.

      Marta Hall and I came to an agreement. She is no longer pursuing me legally.

      Thanks, Joseph
      20YearsUSAF

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

  • icon
    MDT (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 6:08am

    RE:Violynne

    You missed the entire purpose of the article.

    Let us assume the reseller is a fraud. Let's assume he entirely intended to defraud people to make them think the item was new when it wasn't. Let's assume he's a contracted reseller for Velodyne selling things on the sly to pocket some extra profit rather than following his contractual price requirements.

    Even if we assume all that, it doesn't make one flying fig of difference.

    The entire point is, Velodyne publicly lied about both hiring a law firm, and then lied again about the law, in order to get what it wanted. This shows a superior amount of stupid on their part, we're talking tweeting your own privates stupid.

    Nobody should do business with that level of stupid.

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

    • icon
      Violynne (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 6:52am

      Re: RE:Violynne

      "The entire point is, Velodyne publicly lied about both hiring a law firm, and then lied again about the law, in order to get what it wanted. This shows a superior amount of stupid on their part, we're talking tweeting your own privates stupid. "
      A stupid knee-jerk reaction isn't reason to tilt the scales like this. It's bad journalism.

      I'm standing my ground. Until I see proof the seller didn't dupe the customer buying the headphones, I'm not going to toss stones at Velodyne for their reaction.

      This article is not like the others (misleading). Velodyne went after what they thought was another store selling its goods, not a customer who is reselling their headphones.

      So leave my comprehension out of the discussion. There's clearly nothing wrong with it.

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

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 7:25am

        Re: Re: RE:Violynne

        Until I see proof the seller didn't dupe the customer buying the headphones, I'm not going to toss stones at Velodyne for their reaction.

        Even though that isn't what Velodyne was reacting to?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2014 @ 8:04am

        Re: Re: RE:Violynne

        I'm standing my ground. Until I see proof the seller didn't dupe the customer buying the headphones, I'm not going to toss stones at Velodyne for their reaction.


        I am. Whether it was a customer or a reseller breaking their contract, they shouldn't be making up laws.

        And making up "Sock and Bruster Internet Policing Services Inc. LPC, Legal Prosecution and Collection Agency" borders on criminal, if that's supposed to make the person think it's a law firm (or police agency).

        Velodyne went after what they thought was another store selling its goods, not a customer who is reselling their headphones.


        But they were wrong. In the end they threatened and lied to a customer who was not doing what they accused him of doing. You can't justify this by saying that he might be misleading people by selling stuff that's still in the box as "new" because *they* might not honor the warranty.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2014 @ 9:53am

          Re: Re: Re: RE:Violynne

          You know, I'm becoming more and more convinced that this email was illegal.

          The fake company has "policing" in its name. "Prosecution" is a legal term with a specific meaning, and it's used multiple times. They specifically use the phrase "This is a notice of legal prosecution". If the person isn't actually being prosecuted and you don't have the authority to prosecute them, you can't say that.

          Finally, "Sock and Bruster" is completely made up. This company does not exist.


          Come to think of it, just because "Sock and Bruster" doesn't show up on Google or in any search of records doesn't mean it doesn't exist. I mean, given the general illiteracy of the email, it could just be horribly misspelled, thereby defeating any attempts to search for it. Maybe the real name is "Suck and Bluster".

          And, given the apparent lack of competent English skills, it could be incorporated in Nigeria or something, where presumably it would be more difficult to search for company records online.

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

      • identicon
        AnonyBabs, 16 Sep 2014 @ 1:32pm

        Re: Re: RE:Violynne

        Regardless of any "proof" you personally need to form an opinion, this article is not about whether Velodyne had a legitimate grievance. It's entirely about its ham-fisted methods of addressing any such grievance. You can disapprove of the reseller all you want, but it doesn't change Velodyne's stupid behavior.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2014 @ 9:31pm

        Re: Re: RE:Violynne

        Until I see proof the seller didn't dupe the customer buying the headphones

        You do not prove a negative. Also, there is nothing in this article to indicate the headphones were ever resold by 20yearsUSAF. This isn't about the seller duping anyone, this is about the manufacturer trying to assert non-existent laws, rights and contractual conditions.

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

    • icon
      20YearsUSAF (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 1:06pm

      Re: RE:Violynne

      Yes, Marta of Velodyne came on pretty strong and probably lied about her legal pursuit against me. I sold the item on amazon as "new" because it was new. It was shipped to the buyer unopened and in the same condition that it was received in.
      I have learned that I can't list an item as "new" if I'm not able to provide a manufacturer's warranty. Most small amazon sellers do the same. Amazon might need to change it's policy about requirements of "new" items.

      Thanks, Joseph
      20YearsUSAF

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

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 1:26pm

        Re: Re: RE:Violynne

        Amazon might need to change it's policy about requirements of "new" items.

        Maybe they need another category.

        • New

        • New, as-is

        • Like new

        • Used

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

      • identicon
        Michael, 17 Sep 2014 @ 9:00am

        Re: Re: RE:Violynne

        Where in the Amazon seller TOS does it say that "new" must include a manufacturer's warranty?

        I did some searching and did not find anything on their site that indicates this.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2014 @ 8:03pm

      Re: RE:Violynne

      when you believe your above the law, you have no problem breaking the law. Don't forget laws are for the little people not the self perceived elites.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2014 @ 6:13am

    Velodyne are clearly the Ferrari of the audio world...

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

    • identicon
      Cowardly Anonymous Home Theater Enthusiast, 17 Sep 2014 @ 6:59am

      Re:

      They've been around for quite a while and home theater enthusiasts know all about them. I'm on the verge of rebuilding my home theater and thus will be in the market for a second subwoofer, among other things. Velodyne was on the list as a potential, but now I'm not so sure. I'll be investing quite a bit of money and knowing what kind of people you'll be dealing with is important, especially when there is a chance you might have to deal with them again for warranty work down the road.

      I suspect that I won't be the only one taken aback by the content of those e-mails by Velodyne. I can understand why they (mistakenly) sent them, but not the lack of civility and outright lying. The lying alone will probably raise a lot of red flags for anyone whose been thinking of buying their products. It's hard to trust anyone, a business especially, whom not only find lying so easy to do, but also clearly believe it is justified if it means getting their way.

      Put another way, would you want to deal with a sales representative if you knew for a fact he/she was a liar, willing to say anything to make a sale? I know that I certainly wouldn't and it only takes one bad egg to lose a customer for good.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 6:38am

    I hope

    ignorance of the law??
    on which side?
    How many do I need to know?

    There are corps that LOVE to restrict products and such..
    Stores SELL locations..
    Some store sell Pepsi, and NOT COKE.
    Ever see a store that has Every size of Pop for 1 company, and FEW of others?
    I know stores that DONT sell the HIGH name brands..because they get MORE profit on the low name brands..They cant buy in BULK..

    This also shows PRICE fixing.
    Like SPEAKERS..how can speakers range in prices from CHEAP to Expensive..the products used are pretty cheap.. Unless they have Amps and other things inside, there SHOULDNT be much of a price difference.

    Seeing Stores sell things at 50% off, really says something. that is almost their profit margin. you would think.

    WHO remembers when MSRP was created, as a Marketing STUNT?

    And Looking at computer Mice..its Scary..
    its an OLD PROVEN DEVICE.. and some have a few neat things..but its a SIMPLE device..

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

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 6:47am

      Re: I hope

      BAtteries
      Candy
      Milk companies..
      Even cheese..

      Part of the problem is Distributors..
      You have to hook up with them to sell most anything, you cant go direct tot he larger markets..

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

    • identicon
      Checkered Demon, 18 Sep 2014 @ 10:16am

      Huh?

      You comment was completely indecipherable. Could you please re-submit it in plain English so that all may understand?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2014 @ 6:58am

    Warranty

    Can the manufacturer really not honor the warranty just because the product was bought via a reseller?

    I'm from another country, so I'm not sure how things work in the USA, but wouldn't the consumer protection laws require the manufacturer to honor a product's warranty for a mandatory period of time, no matter how it was bought?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2014 @ 7:47am

    Apparently...

    ...Velodyne has their own version of the USTR's Special 301 Report.

    Velodyne clearly doesn't like unauthorized resellers. It has a whole page on its website discussing this as well as a list of blackballed resellers it's uncovered that aren't actually authorized. 20YearsUSAF now heads that list.

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

  • icon
    Tice with a J (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 8:27am

    Sock and Buster?

    Are we sure they didn't mean Sockpuppet and Bluster?

    Also, do they cover emergency services as well as policing? Because it looks to me like Velodyne could use a waaahmbulance right about now.

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

  • icon
    MDT (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 8:28am

    RE:Violynne


    A stupid knee-jerk reaction isn't reason to tilt the scales like this. It's bad journalism.

    I'm standing my ground. Until I see proof the seller didn't dupe the customer buying the headphones, I'm not going to toss stones at Velodyne for their reaction.

    This article is not like the others (misleading). Velodyne went after what they thought was another store selling its goods, not a customer who is reselling their headphones.

    So leave my comprehension out of the discussion. There's clearly nothing wrong with it.


    Your comprehension, or rather, lack thereof, is clear above.

    The article is about slamming a company for making up it's own laws in a threat letter, and lying publicly.

    It doesn't matter if it was reseller or customer using first sale doctrine, which is what I said in my first post (which you obviously failed to read in the same manner you failed to read the article). There is no 'unfair bias'. The article is about a company making up legal argumetns and lying publicly. It doesn't matter if they thought they were lying to a reseller or a customer using first sale doctrine.

    The entire point (that would be the thing that wooshed by your head at 200 mph) is that they lied. It doesn't matter what their motive was, they lied. That is the story.

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

    • icon
      20YearsUSAF (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 1:12pm

      Re: RE:Violynne

      I was one of several amazon sellers listing this specific headphone on amazon as "new". That's the norm for amazon. I sell less than 20 or 30 items on amazon a month. I have a real job and sell a few things online to make extra money (i.e., son just started college).
      All of the items that I list as "new" are in fact "new". What I have learned is that I might not be able to list items as "new" but rather "like new" if I can't supply a manufacturer warranty.

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

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 8:53am

    um, Velodyne?

    I am trying to make a go of a company that supports the livelihood of 80 employees.


    And some trash internet IP lawyers, if that's who that was, apparently.

    Velodyne is a small company, not like Sony or Bose. We don't have millions of dollars for marketing and our costs are high.


    Then don't waste money on stupid, non-legal protectionism methods, and be thankful someone else is getting your products noticed.

    Unless your whole plan is to follow the big dogs and try to make money shaking down "IP violations".

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

  • icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 9:40am

    typo

    "Velodyne can provided evidence"

    s/provided/provide/

    E

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2014 @ 9:58am

    Every single email in this article has a spelling or grammar mistake.

    What the fuck is happening to literacy?!

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

    • identicon
      Checkered Demon, 18 Sep 2014 @ 10:53am

      You can thank....

      ...the dumbing down of America and of the public school system. Children are no longer required to learn to write properly. Ask anyone who has received their education in the last 20-30 years if they *ever* had to diagram a sentence. Or if they were required to use proper spelling, punctuation, etc. for the papers they wrote.

      The answer will be, absolutely, no. The bar has been lowered so much that trained chimps could matriculate from elementary school to high school. And this has been done because we don't want to bruise their tender little egos by requiring them to actually demonstrate real proficiency. God forbid that the poor little dears might earn a failing grade - we can't have that, it would hurt their "self-esteem"!!

      This has even bled over into athletics - *everyone* nowadays gets a trophy for merely showing up for a sporting event. And guess what? Even the kids know it's all BS, most of them immediately throw their worthless little trophies right into the trash.

      Hint, hint parents: you *cannot* bestow self-esteem on someone, it MUST be earned thru hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. That's the "self" part of self-esteem, it's something you did yourself. And until we as a nation realize this and do something about it, we are doomed to slogging thru ever more poorly written internet posts....

      CD

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

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 18 Sep 2014 @ 1:20pm

        Re: You can thank....

        Ask anyone who has received their education in the last 20-30 years if they *ever* had to diagram a sentence.

        Is diagramming sentences really necessary to write properly?

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 10:20am

    "I am trying to make a go of a company that supports the livelihood of 80 employees. If our prices are undercut on a regular basis, then we lose integrity and retail stores will not put us in their stores to sell."

    And the BEST possible way I would come up with was, set my brand on fire and destroy any possible chance people would consider purchasing from us.

    I made up a bunch of lies, and threatened legal action because you dared to sell a product you purchased from us. I invented an entire legal framework out of nothing, to frighten you & get you to not try to resell our products. I did such a bang up job in my "research" that I tried to take out individual sellers as well as my real enemy people who sell my items cheaper than I do - who I am selling to in the first place.

    My headphones are so very awesome because I am famous artist and I made these cool addons to make your headphones look better. Perhaps I should have mentioned this plan to someone in legal or an 8 year old, to see if making insane threats on the internet would get me my way.

    So, in the short sighted rush to "protect" your alleged profits & jobs, you decided your brand needed the extra bonus of there is a crazy woman who will wildly threaten you if you dare try to resell the product. You jumped to conclusions and readily blamed others in the absence of facts, then insulted them, then admitted you were wrong. It isn't going to help, you will forever be the brand with the crazy lady who will make empty threats against anyone who resold items they purchased from you. Do you plan to start cruising yard sales making these threats next?

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

  • icon
    Rikuo (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 10:57am

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2014 @ 11:13am

    This is not just a problem with one reseller and company on Amazon, but a problem across the board and one retailers face all the time.

    They recieve a discount from the manufacturer (or company) on a product and then they are forced to not sell below a certain amount retail. They can not set their own prices. What some retailers do is buy under one name (which changes frequently) and sell under a different name - sort of a business whack-a-mole. However, the business selling the actual item is then publicized as selling "counterfiet or fake" items which they are not.

    Another situation I'm aware of is when a manufacter sent a cease and desist letter for selling their item as a component with various companies product. Not unlike selling headphones seperate from a mp3 player. Both manufacturers sold products individually, so the customer is not aware of the restriction placed on the retailer. It's awkward as hell. The move is designed to get retailers to sell one product (sending the c&d letters) exclusively. They are a market leader for one product (but not others they manufacture).

    The climate today sux. Price fixing, racketeering, anti-trust, extortion; it's pretty clear that it's cheaper and easier to compete legally than in an open market.

    This is a serious economic problem.

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

  • identicon
    Benjamin Wade, 16 Sep 2014 @ 12:12pm

    Hell would freeze over before I would buy

    From this company (Velodyne).

    Clearly they are failing because they don't have a clue what they're doing. Obviously they have no clue regarding the law. Given that they can't sell at the same price their customers can (used), they don't know retail either. It leaves you to conclude that they probably don't know their products very well either.

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

    • identicon
      Checkered Demon, 18 Sep 2014 @ 3:42pm

      Actually....

      Velodyne make very good subwoofers, some of the best you can buy. And they have been doing so for almost 40 years. It is unfortunate that they have made this recent mistake and the best course of action for them would be to admit the mistake(s), apologize for it, and move on....

      CD

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

  • identicon
    Zonker, 16 Sep 2014 @ 12:25pm

    20YearsUSAF increases the value of Velodyne's products by selling them at higher prices than Velodyne sells them for now, and Velodyne's response is to destroy it's value entirely by making their products a liability to own. (No resell. Price/value can only go down, not up. Legal threats if you do something with it the manufacturer doesn't like.)

    This would have to be a textbook example of how to destroy the value of your small business. I would be thrilled if I had people successfully reselling my products for more than I sold it for. It means I have enough demand for my products that I can increase my prices and make more profit per unit, or increase manufacturing and sell more units at the current price. I'd be concerned if resellers were selling at a loss.

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

  • identicon
    Zonker, 16 Sep 2014 @ 1:01pm

    I am trying to make a go of a company that supports the livelihood of 80 employees. If our prices are undercut on a regular basis, then we lose integrity and retail stores will not put us in their stores to sell.

    Velodyne is a small company, not like Sony or Bose. We don't have millions of dollars for marketing and our costs are high. Retail stores are going out of business and what we have left is selling online from our home grown website. This is our hope to sustain the business.
    According to this statement, it sounds as though they've made a beginner's mistake in pricing their products for retail. Your direct sales are competing with the retailer's price for your product, so if you want retailers to carry your product you need to keep your direct sale prices at retail and offer the retailers volume discounts so they can make a reasonable profit at the "manufacturer's suggested retail price" point.

    If you are selling your own product direct for less than the retailer's markup, then you are the one undercutting your retailers and they will not stock your product. If resellers are selling "new" at or below cost, then you have too much supply for too little demand. Improve the demand (advertise or improve your product).

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

  • icon
    CharlesGrossman (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 2:57pm

    Unauthorized Practice of Law

    The crime here, I believe, is unauthorized practice of law, which in California I think is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison. With language in the Sock and Bruster letter like "our engagement representing Velodyne", "notice of legal prosecution", and "Legal Prosecution ... Agency" -- as well as statements purporting to interpret the law -- I'd wager there's a pretty clear case to be made.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2014 @ 3:08pm

      Re: Unauthorized Practice of Law

      Didn't I read, somewhere, that California had specific laws against such activity? I'm sure I did. Maybe it's time for the California AG to get involved.
      .

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

    • icon
      CharlesGrossman (profile), 17 Sep 2014 @ 7:43am

      Re: Unauthorized Practice of Law

      I am sending this letter today ...

      The State Bar of California
      Office of the Chief Trial Counsel, Intake Unit
      845 S. Figueroa St.
      Los Angeles, CA 90017-2515
      Attn: UPL Project

      To the State Bar of California UPL Project:

      This message is to alert you about the possible unlawful practice of law by an unlicensed individual in California.

      Marta Thoma Hall (whose business address is Velodyne Corporate Headquarters, 345 Digital Drive, Morgan Hill, CA 95037) held herself out to be an attorney representing Velodyne Inc., operated a phone "legal prosecution" agency, provided legal counsel to Velodyne Inc., and delivered legal advice -- all without being a member of the California Bar or the bar of any other jurisdiction.

      Hall's actions are encapsulated in email messages she sent to at least three vendors on Amazon.com and Ebay.com: "20YearsUSAF" at Amazon.com and Ebay.com; "CCYL" on Amazon.com; and "Barbara's Bag of Holding" on Amazon.com. These actions are documented on Amazon.com at [URL for Amazon Seller Central discussion appears here]

      Hall's email messages purpurted to be a notice of "legal prosecution" from an apprently fictitious law firm representing Velodyne, and in that fictitious role advises and counsels recipients misleadingly on their legal rights and responsibilities. The email message sent by Hall to "20YearsUSAF" reads:

      [text of first letter from Hall to 20YearsUSAF appears here]

      Respectfully submitted

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

  • identicon
    slick8086, 16 Sep 2014 @ 3:01pm

    This is sad. Velodyne is also the company making the LIDAR systems for Google's autonomous cars. I watched a short interview with the owner of Velodyne and he didn't seem like this big of an asshole, but I guess he is.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2014 @ 3:04pm

    Streisand Rides Again

    Like many here, I had never heard of Velodyne before this article. I now have, and will avoid them like the plague. Barbara would be proud of them.
    .

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2014 @ 3:14pm

    Smart

    Look at the bright side. It'll be almost impossible to prove that this communication actually took place. Emails are too easy to fake. Now, if we were talking about a registered (or even unregistered) letter instead of ephemeral email, you might have a case. As it is, there's no real proof that this email ever happened. So, maybe this is all smoke and mirrors to get the "reseller" some attention.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2014 @ 4:34pm

      Re: Smart

      Even if it is not possible to prove the email communications are real. The page on their website that lists the username of the person who sold the pair of headphones is real.

      That may not mean much, but it indicates something is going on.

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

      • icon
        20YearsUSAF (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 5:50pm

        Re: Re: Smart

        Wow, this has really blown up. That was not my attention when I brought it to the amazon sellers forum. I was just looking for advice from larger and more experienced sellers. If you really want to know if the emails from Marta are real you can contact her at the Velodyne website or visit the Velodyne website page that lists me as an unauthorized seller of their products.

        Joseph
        20YearsUSAF

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2014 @ 6:43pm

    Velodyne is the only party facing jail time, impersonating an officer of the law is a felony - right?

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 8:09pm

    Funny... someone had added these letters to their wikipedia page, and poof they were removed by someone who changed something else and made a cheap shot about fixing grade school grammatical errors.

    But hey the entire page is just basically an advertisement for the company so it'll probably end up deleted anyways.

    Good job Marta.

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

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 16 Sep 2014 @ 8:10pm

      Re:

      derp.. the IP that made those changes is from a Comcast Business IP block... hence the funny

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2014 @ 8:45pm

        Re: Re:

        I think you might be confusing two edits... the "grade school grammar error" from a Comcast Business account actually WAS a grade school grammar error (wrong form of "its".) The NEXT one is the one deleting the section. That one is from an IP address which is sort of in the same general area as Velodyne, according to what I could google. Close enough to be within a long commuting distance, anyway. Which doesn't necessarily mean anything. But don't most people put something on the Talk page when they delete a whole section that someone just put up?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2014 @ 9:13pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          And looking at the page history, it's pretty dang clear that in the past, someone from the company decided to edit that Wikipedia page multiple times. At this point the page is so blatantly promotional it's sickening.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2014 @ 5:25pm

    I dropped a grand on one of their subs once, but I digress. Smells like Velodyne needs a diaper change to me.

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

  • identicon
    former employee, 14 Nov 2014 @ 2:45pm

    comment

    Know this "you can't fix stupid".

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

  • icon
    CharlesGrossman (profile), 5 Apr 2015 @ 8:04am

    Re: Unauthorized Practice of Law

    A quick update on my unauthorized practice of law report to The State Bar of California -- today I received this postcard:

    We have received your complaint against a non-California attorney and have assigned it the number shown below. We will contact you when our evaluation of your matter is complete.
    Thank you for your patience.
    OFFICE OF CHIEF TRIAL COUNSEL/INTAKE
    Inquiry # 14-27528

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

    • icon
      CharlesGrossman (profile), 27 Aug 2015 @ 2:26pm

      Re: Unauthorized Practice of Law

      Finally, here is The State Bar of California's response to my complaint about Marta Thoma Hall (see my earlier comments in this thread for history):

      "The State Bar of California is in receipt of your letter regarding Marta Thoma Hall. Although the State Bar can take certain limited action against non-lawyers under section 6126 of the Businesss and Professions Code, our primary jurisdictional authority is over California attorneys.

      "We contacted Velodyne regarding your complaint that Ms. Hall was issuing legal notices to third-party resellers on Amazon.com and eBay.com from Sock and Bruster Internet Policing Services Inc. LPC, Legal Prosecution and Collection Agency, a fictitious agency. It is the State Bar's understanding that Ms. Hall is no longer in her former position at Velodyne; therefore, it is unlikely that Ms. Hall will continue to send these legal notices.

      "We are interested in the information provided and we will keep your complaint on file; however, we are closing your matter at this time without prejudice. Should we require additional information in the future, we will contact you.

      "Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.
      Very truly yours,
      Kevin Kim
      Law Clerk"

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Close
Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.