Today’s lesson in caveat emptor
Update 1/13/2019 AM:
I’ve heard back from the authentic company. They reviewed the information I provided here. They noticed that the Shopify account with the fraudulent offering was also doing the same thing to two other companies. They contacted those companies. With a group effort, they managed to pressure Shopify, on a weekend no less, to remove the fraudulent account.
You can make a difference.
The fight is not over. The kind of con artist that would create that kind of account will be right back at it until the companies that offer them a platform do something about it. Facebook is the Mos Eisley of the garden-variety internet. Even if they lose three advertisers, what is that to them?
As we’ve learned, a toothless Congress won’t hold them accountable for their data practices. But if Facebook won’t do their due diligence to make sure their advertisers aren’t fleecing their product, us, then it falls to use to put the pressure on them. Don’t. Stop. Pushing.
Update 1/12/2019 PM: I found the ad mentioned herein
I would love a laser engraver/cutter. I eyeball ads for the Glowforge all the time. I…want!
Imagine my excitement when I saw an ad on Facebook for a laser engraver cutter from a different company and it’s only $39.99.
Hey, it’s possible! So thinks every mark right before they part with the money.
That sound you should be hearing? That’s alarm bells. I got burned recently by a different Facebook advertiser, and only by dint of deploying my highly developed !@$#$ skills, I managed to get a refund out of PayPal, but that’s a whole other story. I know what it’s like to get burned. And I know what it’s like to lose money I can’t afford to lose.
I am here to help that not happen to someone else, and, please bear with me here…
I need your help.
I don’t ask for much. I don’t grub for likes and comments and shares. I thrive on crickets. I must, else I must be mad.
This is different.
You won’t be helping me.
You’ll be helping some poor credulous soul who hopes to buy themselves a nice thing, maybe a nice thing for a loved one. If they’re this gullible, odds are good they are either poor, under-educated, elderly, or some mix of these. Maybe they’re on a fixed income.
You’d be helping those people.
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The ad is from a “company” (is it even really one?) called Favorite Babys in their Facebook advertisement. As far as I can tell, they don’t even have a Facebook page. For reasons that will soon become clear, I do not have a screenshot of the ad I first saw [correction: that ad is now depicted below], and now I doubt I can find another, as I reported it, and making things disappear is a special talent Facebook has cultivated. [My understanding of Facebook’s management of things is, I suspect, partly my own fault, and partly by design.]
I’m going to trust you, savvy, worldliwise reader, to under no circumstances click all the way through the following link to order what I’m warning you about. Please, no? Here’s the page the Favorite Babys ad points to. It appears to be a Shopify page for a user going by the name of Cindeyre with an email contact at the bottom of the page, “firstname.lastname@example.org.” You can tell me just how many alarm bells it sets off. While you’re there, look at the left and right product photos using their zoom feature. Pay careful attention to the logo on the front of the white box-like product. Now look at the center photo and zoom. Notice anything different? Now scroll down the lengthy description and note how it also refers to the product as Beam II.
Now look at the real vendor’s page. As far as I know, this one is legitimate. If you would like to thank me for my good deed, I would love one of those units. I’d even love a stripped down version, just sayin’. Look carefully at their actual product logo and its placement. Now look back at the first one.
Does that even look right to you?
If you’re familiar with intellectual property management, does that seem like the kind of misuse of logo that an actual IP holder would allow under any terms? Personally, I don’t think so, but I’m not an IP attorney. I’ve never even played one on the teevee. But I did work as an office manager for one once upon a time. This smells to high heaven.
Having been burned before, and having an ax to grind against con artists, I decided to play guinea pig up to a point. I added to cart and punched in my address so they could calculate shipping.
Does free shipping sound about right for a $39.99 version of a nearly 3000 Euro product? Does it sound even remotely plausible that there’s a weird-IP-usage early version available at fire sale prices? I certainly wouldn’t think so.
At that stage, I’d seen enough. I replied at length with a caveat emptor message on the advertiser’s ad post. Others were already noting how scammy it looked. I wanted some more meat on those bones. Then I clicked through to report the ad as a likely scam.
“Likely scam” isn’t one of the options I saw. I selected “Other.” After that, my options dried up, and the ad disappeared. Whew! Close call! I’m safe and to the flames with the rest of the suckers in the world, amirite?
Sorry, but I do not roll like that. At this point, I would love to have contacted Facebook through some normal means, but they deprive their product line of normal means of contacting them. So I went to Facebook’s Facebook page and left the following comment on the first post at the top since they also make it abundantly clear that they do not want their products posting directly on their page.
You might notice I keep calling their users products. If you’re not paying for something, guess what you are. I got my screenshot. I noted a minor error in my reporting. I amended the error in a sub-comment. I collected a screenshot of that. And I collected a screenshot of their search results once I figured out how to trick it into giving me anything at all about the potentially fraudulent advertiser. Those screenshots follow at the end of this post for your reference, cropped to the essentials, should you care to look at them.
After I’m done with this post, which I trust is neither defamatory nor libelous as I am merely reporting on the documented facts of my experience, I will follow through on my promise to Facebook and initiate communication with whatever passes for their investor relations office, their CFO’s office, and the California Attorney General’s office, since their headquarters is in Menlo Park. On the off chance it will do even a little bit of good to try and end this incredible patience Facebook has with collecting advertising fees from probable con artists, I will also see if I can get attention from the New York Times and the Washington Post. I might as well go for broke and try for the LA Times, as well. Naturally, I will also notify Mr. Beam so they may have a fair shot at protecting the value of their intellectual property.
If you feel this is a valuable public service, you go right ahead and forward this to whatever parties you believe will amplify the message and maybe, just maybe we can effect at least one little change for the better in a world that seems perversely intent on separating us from each other and our money from us. I also welcome whatever feedback you would like to leave in the comments, including your own tales of Facebook-oriented misery and woe, especially if it led to actual, demonstrable financial harm in any amount of money.
Thank you for your kind indulgence. My comment to Facebook such that they must see it, and that at least some tiny portion of their users might see it, if only for a hot minute, follows. As of this writing, I’m surprised to say it’s still there with no response. Then again, I’m the loon up until almost midnight on a Saturday night on Facebook because I have no life.
Hey, Facebook, what gives with your ad reporting “feature?” Commenting on your posts is the only way to make this public until you delete it (which won’t look guilty at all, and I have a screenshot, and there will be blogging), so help a product out here, will ya? I just reported Favorite Baby (https://www.facebook.com/…/Favorite-Baby-270460953671377/). There is no “probable scam” option. I selected “Other.” Slam, bam, thank you ma’am, that was it. No other info even possible to offer you. Your “very trusted” 😉 company will “review” it, lol.
The product is very obviously either non-existent, or an obvious rip-off of someone else’s intellectual property (https://mr-beam.org/). It’s a laser engraver/cutter still for sale by the actual company for a very large sum of money, upward of $2000 [sic] Euros. The scam company’s ad? $39 [sic]. If you go to the page they’re advertising and use the zoom to look at the product photo and compare it to an actual product from the real company (linked previously), you can see that the logo isn’t even right. Close, but not right. Nobody, but nobody, licenses their IP for that to happen. I know from my past experience working at an intellectual property law firm. I played guinea pig and clicked through up to, but not including payment info. They’re offering the over $2000 [sic] Euro product for $39.99 and free shipping (https://favorite-babys.com/…/the-desktop-laser-cutter…)
Does that even sound remotely right to you? Assuming you’re a human reading this, no, of course it doesn’t.
Added bonus, they don’t even take PayPal, so the products you harvest here, your users, are entirely at the mercy of caveat emptor and a probable crook. Given your deep history of caring about your users (your sarcasm detector should have just burst into flames), you must surely know what brainiacs some of us can be, and it’s the most poorly equipped among us who will fall for this scam.
You, admin, do you feel 100% happy knowing this is the company you work for? It should be a proud day, let me tell you.
So I’ve fulfilled my Good Samaritan obligation here. I have called this to your attention in this way because you make it otherwise impossible. Now I’m off to contact Mr. Beam to let them know so they can pursue this through your “report ad” button and hopefully through the proper international authorities.
I’ll be following this story closely and blogging every last detail. With any luck, it’ll get picked up like a few of my other articles have been. For that matter, since you’re publicly traded, maybe I’ll run this past your investor relations office, your CFO’s office (because CFO offices tend to get things done), and the California AG’s office along with letters to the editor at WashPo and NYT, in the futile hope they’ll help shed a light on this little casual negligence practice you have. By all means, block me, ban me, delete this, whatever your job requirement is. I have my screenshot. That would just help make my case. Best regards, me.
The following message has now been sent to the California Attorney General’s office, via web contact.
I have already written about my complaint at great length and have no desire to repeat it all here. The text of the article I have published may be found at https://scholarsandrogues.com/2019/01/12/when-in-facebook-dont-do-as-facebook-does/.
There is an apparently fraudulent advertisement on Facebook. Reporting such to them is an exercise in futility. It is a rampart problem on their platform. In regard to this particular matter, I have notified Facebook, as detailed at the link. I’ve also emailed the company I believe truly holds the intellectual property that’s being infringed, as well as Facebook’s Investor Relations office (via email) and CFO Mr. Wehner’s office (via email). My experience is that such offices take serious matters seriously in a way marketing, PR, and CEO simply will not. I will be appending the text of this message to the aforementioned blog article. As well, I will be contacting the New York Times, WashPo, and the LA Times. This victimization of Facebook users and Facebook’s apparent complacency in the face of same simply must be addressed. Thank you for your time and attention. Best regards, Frank Balsinger