Old 11-01-2005, 08:16 AM
Mellivora capensis Mellivora capensis is offline
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: South Africa
Posts: 1,109
Extortion? Racketeering?

How would you describe this type of business practice?

A person sets up a website which allows the public to complain about service providers' service, or lack thereof, or just to generally bludgeon a brand name because they can. The public gets to post under pseudonyms, but the website owner has access to the poster's real name, contact details and email address.

The comments or complaints are there for all to see. The service providers are listed as "Companies Who Respond", and "Companies Who Don't". Service providers are invited by the website owner to respond, deal with the complaints and hopefully resolve them.

In order for a service provider to resolve a complaint/dispute, it needs the contact details of the complainant. But here's the catch. To respond and/or to gain access to the contact details of the complainant, the service provider must pay a subscription fee to the website owner.

Why does this sound to me like extortion? Or at the very least, harmful business practice?
Old 11-01-2005, 06:56 PM
YellowTail YellowTail is offline
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Bear Creek, Colorado
Posts: 681
It's a bit dubious.
Old 11-02-2005, 01:20 AM
Mellivora capensis Mellivora capensis is offline
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: South Africa
Posts: 1,109
Thanks, YellowTail, my thoughts exactly. Well, actually, not exactly, my thoughts are a little less diplomatic on this subject.

Old 11-02-2005, 01:31 AM
Eleusis Eleusis is offline
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 3,919
That "catch" is BS.

It does sound an awful lot like extortion or blackmail.
Old 11-02-2005, 02:37 PM
nesta nesta is offline
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: St. Louis Metro-East, IL
Posts: 429
This is about the BBB, correct? I can't say I'm a fan of their business model, but they do provide a service that must be paid for by someone, and one choice is the businesses that wish to participate.
Old 11-03-2005, 01:44 AM
Mellivora capensis Mellivora capensis is offline
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: South Africa
Posts: 1,109
nesta, you make a valid point insofar as the economics is concerned, however, the implication, and one which they exploit tremendously, is that if you do not participate, you do not care about the customer.

This is the crux of my resentment, especially in light of the fact that the industry I work in has numerous objective, equitable and highly effective complaints resolution avenues that are paid for by the industry, and cost the complainants nothing more than a telefax. The nature of my work is essentially contractual, and so the nature of most complaints are invariably complex, confidential and sensitive. As such they cannot be discussed or resolved in a public forum.


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