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I can't get rich online and neither can you. Topics include why you won't get rich with your blog, ideas you wish you had thought of, and other Internet phenomena.

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Archive: Dammit

Best Buy Computer Scam or Legit Forced Continuity???

And you all thought that forced continuity was just an online thing…

For those of you out of the know, forced continuity is where you sign up for something (usually a free newsletter or a free plus shipping product) and then automatically get billed on a monthly basis after that with no upfront option of opting out (you have to call in after the fact).

Well, for those of you in the super know, you’ve probably heard that a lot of major internet marketers had their merchant accounts shut down in the past couple weeks because Visa and Mastercard were trying to lay down the hammer on deceptive forced continuity ….. where the customers didn’t really know they were signing up for such a thing.

So you can probably understand (and if you can’t, f*ck you!) how pissed I was to recently have Best Buy (the offline store — not their website) outright lie to me and tricked me into a forced continuity …. followed by making it almost impossible to cancel.

Here’s the story:

I go to a local Best Buy store here to buy a new laptop.

I was told by a salesman that for $100 more, I can get one pre-setup with 6 months free of an anti-virus software.

Not wanting to deal with the hassle of setting up the laptop, I pay the extra $100.

The salesman tells me that for the 6 months free for the anti-virus, he needs to scan it in and I need to swipe my card — he reassures me that I WILL NOT BE CHARGED for the anti-virus.  I asked if there were any charges whatsoever for it, and he says “no, the only reason you swipe your card is so we can acknowledge that you got the free software — I’ll immediately deduct the cost so it’s free, and then in 6 months, you’ll get an e-mail asking you if you want to pay for anything past that,” and I again ask “so it won’t ever charge the card?” and he says “no, it’s free — this is just to verify that you got it.”

Okay, cool, whatever…

But then, after I do that, I realize that the credit card monitor says that I’m agreeing to AUTO-REBILLING of my credit card.  I immediately bring this up and said that I don’t want to be rebilled, and he says “oh … [with some dumbass look on his face] you can cancel anytime you want.” and I say “okay, great, cancel me now.” and he says “we can’t do it here — you need to call 1-888-Best Buy — you can do that first thing tomorrow.”

I then ask if that number is written down on the receipt or anything, and he says no.  So now I’m thinking, how the f*ck would I know how to cancel if I didn’t ask that right then and there on the spot????  And more so, how the f*ck would the majority of the people even know that they agreed to the auto-rebill when this dude was bluntly saying over and over again that there were NO CHARGES and the only reason for the credit card swipe was to verify that we got it.  That’s an outright LIE!

But wait, it gets better!!!

So first thing right afterwards, I call up the 1-888-Best Buy number, explain the situation, and ask to be taken off the auto-rebill.  And guess what they say???  They said “sorry, you can only cancel at this number AFTER 30 days — you can call up your local Best Buy to try to have them cancel it there sooner.”

I’m seriously like ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!! ….. that Best Buy told me that the ONLY way I can cancel is to call up the 1-888 number, and that I can do it the very next day immediately (another lie).  Then that number says “nope, you can only cancel after 30 days.”

That basically means that they’re A) making it ridiculously deceptive that they’re even auto-billing you at all, B) they’re making it impossible to know how to cancel (if I hadn’t asked, I would have no information and no clue how to do so), and C) they’re purposely making rules that are aimed at making it difficult to nearly impossible to cancel.

On top of outright lying, they’re basically saying “call this number and hope that they’ll cancel you …. although they’ll probably tell you to go back to us and we’ll have you go in a never ending circle ….. unless you cancel after 30 days but before 6 months excluding Jewish holidays and Kwanza …. but you can’t cancel between the hours of 5 am and 1 am, unless your name is Bubba, in which case you can at 2:01 pm but not 2:02 pm, excluding every day except Sundays …. only if your first born son was born on that Sunday, and if not, f*ck you.”

This is ridiculous, and it’s making me PMSing over how they allowed this to happen.  This is worse than ANY internet forced continuity I’ve ever seen.  We’ll keep you updated….  Hopefully they’ll be smart about it and just make it easy for me to cancel.  Otherwise, they’ll have sh*t to pay for.  :)

Be warned….


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An Open Letter to Facebook Interns

Dear Facebook Advertising Staff,

Hi! My name’s Geoff, and I’ve been struggling with affiliate marketing for months. I’ve tried countless offers and traffic-driving techniques, but nothing seemed to work. That all changed earlier last week when I finally found a method of driving traffic with your advertising platform, and I’m finally making around $50 profit per day.

$50 per day has been a goal of mine for a long time, but a wise man once told me that I need to “find what works and then scale the hell out of it.” Well, I’m really trying to scale it all to hell, but there’s just one little problem.

You.

Yes, you, Facebook advertising intern. You see, I’ve gotten a lot of identical ads approved- Somewhere over 100. They’re all the same (different demographics though), and they’re really working well for me. The problem is, you guys keep rejecting them for a myriad of different reasons, even though I’ve had them approved previously. I’ve even had 5 identical ads in a group, and then had four of them approved and one rejected. It boggles the mind.

In any case, waiting two or three hours and resubmitting the exact same ads usually results in them being approved.

Now, do you think we could maybe come to an understanding here? Perhaps, I don’t know, cut out that middle step? It means more money for both me and you (well, your employer), and that just makes everybody happy, right?

Sincerely,

Annoyed Marketer

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More Facebook Woes

Sometimes Facebook makes pure liquid hatred shoot out of my eyes.

I decided to try a new type of campaign, and more importantly decided to break each ad group up so that each individual ad only targets 100-1,000 people. I submitted my first ten (identical) ads, each targeting a different group of people, and waited. Twelve hours later, they were approved. Ok, good. That means that the ad details are acceptable, right? Wrong.

I submitted ten more ads (identical to the first group with different demographics) and waited. Several hours later, they were rejected. Ok, no big deal. I made a few changes, resubmitted them, and they were approved.

At this point I was pretty sure I had the ad down solid. I submitted ten more, waited, and was a bit surprised when they were rejected. Instead of rewriting the ad again, I decided to just wait a couple of hours and resubmit the exact same ads. This time, they were approved.

Now, re-read the last paragraph six more times. That’s been the last two days for me. Time after time, the same ad groups with the exact same text are being accepted and rejected. At first I thought it had something to do with the time of day (day shift vs evening shift), but no, I had a group rejected this morning and then approved an hour ago. It’s very frustrating.

You know what this tells me? The people who reject and approve have little to no training. There are no concrete rules, only guidelines that are open to personal interpretation. It’d be nice if there was a little consistency in the whole process, but I guess that’s asking too much.

Oh well. I’m still making money.

EDIT: Hey look, I’m using Eli’s new plugin.

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Need a Hand With PHP

Are any of you guys good with PHP?  I’m almost done with PR At-a-Glance , but I’m having some issues with pulling the PR from Google.  I’m using popstats to grab the PR, but it’s not interfacing with my application.  If anybody out there knows their stuff and doesn’t mind answering a few questions, shoot me an email .

After I get that working, I just need to add some graphics and make the whole interface pretty, and then I’ll release it.

EDIT: Yeesh, you guys are great.  I got more responses than I thought I would.  I’m out of town for a few days, but I’ll be sure to get back to each of you once I get back.

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What to do When Your Employer Finds Your Blog

If you watch my Twitter feed, you may remember seeing a note about my boss finding this blog about a month ago.  Go ahead, laugh.  It could happen to you too.  Fortunately, I’m feeling generous, so I’ve compiled a handy guide on what to do if your employer finds your blog.

Phase 1 - Freak out

Here’s what I heard coming out of my boss’s office on that fateful day: “Mmblmlmbmlm can’t get rich blah blah Geoff blah blah how’d he find out about this?”  I’d written something about my company being acquired by The Planet, and in a flash of brilliance, linked to their website.  From what I understand, my article was scraped and blasted out in the company newsletter.  Oops.

My bosses were confused, because we don’t have any Geoffs working here.  Unfortunately for me, that defense would be flimsy at best, since I’m a smart guy who puts pictures of himself on the Internet.  As soon as they clicked on the ‘About the Author’ link, I’d be screwed.

Phase 2 - Think fast

I did a quick damage assessment:  Had I ever talked about company secrets or said anything offensive about my coworkers/bosses/company logo?  Thankfully, I’m not an idiot.  I rarely talk about work at all on this site, and all you guys know is that I’m involved in some sort of technical support or something.  I always laugh at the people who rant about their bosses on their blogs, only to get caught at some point a few weeks later.  It’s important to remember that the Internet is public, and everything you say on your blog can be seen by anyone as long as it’s online (and probably after that too.  Thanks Google cache).

Phase 3 - Walk of shame

Phase two lasted around 3 seconds, so my bosses hadn’t found my about page yet.  I decided to minimize the damage and admit that the site was mine (”Did I hear someone talking about my blog?”).  In situations like these, if you know you’re going to be identified, just come out and admit it (otherwise, you’ll look like you have something to hide).

If you do have something to hide, well, you’re screwed.  I guess you could quickly edit your wp-config.php file to point at the wrong database, thus taking your site offline and buying you some time.  That said, cover your tracks better next time.

Phase 4 - Forget about it

Pretend it never happened and hope that you haven’t acquired a couple of new readers.

Phase 5 - Reap the benefits

“So, you know a few things about Adwords and blogging?  Lets talk in my office.”

Phase 5 may or may not happen.  Suffice it to say, I was surprised.  Nothing’s come of it yet, but we’ll see.

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