Using Negative Publicity To Generate Buzz: A Cautionary Tale

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2010-12-016

I went shopping yesterday and was not too satisfied with the merchandise in the stores I normally visit. I ended up spending more money than I’d like for stuff I wasn’t intending to buy, so I’m going to have to change my shopping strategy. I think I’m going to stick to shopping at online cash back sites and plan my purchases more carefully. As you may expect, I tend to make poorer decisions when I feel rushed.

With e-commerce becoming a bigger part of our lives over the years, it’s become way too easy for us to forget or ignore the risks. I just read a news article about how an online business owner (the proprietor of has resorted to bad publicity in order to sell his wares and to get popular with the search engines. Basically, he’s been providing a poor customer experience for his customers and reveling in the online “buzz” that his bad service generates. This article by The New York Times spells out the details.

negative publicity
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This story reminds us that online shopping is an area we all need to explore carefully since a lot of these websites are anonymous (yes, even mine!). I’m going to go out on a limb and say that blogs are a bit more transparent than some of these smaller, mom-and-pop e-commerce sites because at the very least, you can establish some kind of connection with bloggers, who tend to reveal a little about themselves on their site. Sure, who knows if someone is being completely honest with you. But it’s usually the case that given enough history, you tend to get a feel for who you are dealing with. Some shopping sites without a “face” may be harder to judge or trust, until you’ve become a regular customer of theirs.

Unfortunately, customers of DecorMyEyes are learning too late that there are bad eggs out in cyberspace that are still ranked pretty well by search engines. And with regards to DecorMyEyes’ business strategy, it’s clearly a bad one. Why put so much effort in stirring up controversy when you can probably spend just as much time building a good reputation? I’m afraid that the proprietor of this store isn’t thinking long term.

My buddy Lazy Man has opined on the subject as well, and tells us about how to bust this punk.

Copyright © 2010 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Valerie December 1, 2010 at 7:53 pm

That article was both very educational and incredibly aggravating, too!

Silicon Valley Blogger December 1, 2010 at 8:09 pm

An interesting follow up on how Google is handling the problem of “bad customer experience”. What do you think: should Google resolve the issue or should we leave the onus on customers to perform their due diligence when shopping? Because when Google changes their search algorithm (perhaps in response to this type of situation), they could very well be meddling with “relevancy”.

Kosmo @ The Soap Boxers December 2, 2010 at 8:30 am

There are two companies providing bad service in the Times article.

How, exactly, was someone able to pose as the customers and convince Citi to drop the dispute? Isn’t there typically some sort of verification – social security number, mother’s maiden name, etc?

Then the response from the fraud department person is equally troubling.

Granted, I’m sure that this is not the standard practice for Citi, so it’s not as troubling as Mr. Borker’s blatantly illegal tactics. Making threats to people is a nice way to get a free housing, courtesy of the state.

Consumermiser December 2, 2010 at 10:51 am


This is a nice reminder about being careful when you shop online. I wrote a blog post about online shopping the other day too. My 9 tips for online shopping are:

1. Stay within Budget.
2. Make a List.
3. Use 1 credit card and do not use a debit card.
4. Keep you receipts.
5. Check out reviews.
6. Investigate the store or deal with reputable companies.
7. Comparison Shop.
8. Look for Discounts and Deals.
9. Look for hidden costs.
Happy shopping!!!

Jackie December 2, 2010 at 11:20 am

This article on deliberately providing bad customer service in exchange for “buzz” is nuts!

Pete L December 2, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Reading between the lines, it sounds like Clarabelle Rodriguez won in the end. She couldn’t get anyone to help her, until she managed to find a reporter from the New York Times interested in publishing her story. Suddenly, Google sat up and took notice, and everyone who’d been coddling Borker and his scams had to scramble to publicly justify themselves. Well done!

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