Blogosphere triumphant

Looks like the blogosphere* triumphs over sleazy company in the Thomas Hawk vs. war.

MediaPost Publications - Consumer-Generated Justice: Blogger Sidelines E-Commerce Site - 12/02/2005
Howard Baker, a manager with, said the business had suffered “millions of dollars” worth of damages in the last two days, apparently at the hands of consumer vigilantes who had read the Digital Connection post.

“In the last couple of days there was one disgruntled customer that posted a blog that caused thousands of people to come out of the woodwork and jam our Web site,” said Baker--citing viruses, denial-of-service attacks, and thousands of prank calls. “We're talking to our attorneys this afternoon, and will probably be taking legal action.”

“They're basically trying to destroy our business in our busiest month, and they have,” Baker said. “No hard-working small business owner should ever experience something like this.”

Wednesday, shortly after the original Digital Connection post, popular tech news site Slashdot picked up the story. Joe Lazarus, director of marketing for Yahoo! Shopping, eventually weighed in with a comment to the Digital Connection blog, which asked users to keep a sharp eye out for reviews that seem questionable. “We rely on our community of consumers to share feedback with each other through ratings and reviews on our site. That system works well, but it's not perfect. So, we encourage people like you to contact us if they see reviews that are suspect, abusive, off-topic, or otherwise objectionable,” he wrote.

Despite hundreds of negative, one-star reviews posted on and Yahoo! Shopping, managed to maintain a high rating--four stars out of five on both sites--in part due to hundreds of equally positive, five-star reviews. The vast majority of the reviews posted on the shopping aggregator sites were either one star or five stars; few reviews told of a middling experience with the company. Yahoo! declined to speculate how the merchant maintained a four-star rating with a legion of one-star comments; a company spokesperson confirmed that Yahoo! Shopping removed from its listings after an investigation.

.... [Thomas Hawk] said he had not expected the magnitude of the response to his story. “Obviously I felt slighted, I felt that I'd been abused and offended, and I planned on posting this article. I have a blog with moderate traffic,” he said. “I submitted this story to Digg and I wasn't necessarily expecting it to take off per se, but certainly it did.”

The reason for the response, he figures, is that other readers could identify with his situation. “It resonated very, very strongly with people. At one point or another we've all be bullied or ripped off or defrauded,” he said. “In the past, there was nothing we could do about it--we just have taken this abuse.”

These days, things are a bit different: Caveat venditor--let the seller beware.

*phrase probably invented by skippy

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on December 2, 2005 1:34 PM.

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