The Internet is full of spammers and scammers. You have to be very careful what emails you open, what website links you click on and who you give your details to. You need to be careful with passwords, and take online security seriously – as the scammers and spammers are quick to take advantage of people who are caught unawares.
Some people, however, bring it upon themselves. I received the below email from someone thinking he was complaining to Royal Sun Alliance, when in actual fact he was emailing through a completely unrelated website, which bore no resemblance to RSA whatsoever. The guy gave his full details, including address and phone number, while complaining how his details were ‘stolen’ by someone.
Seriously pal, your details weren’t stolen at all. If you’re so stupid as to post them, in full, to the first website you find in Google you’re going to be a victim of Internet crime. You’re the sort of person who makes it so easy for the spammers and scammers you seek them out. I expect you’ve also replied to a number of Nigerian bankers this week, and the President of Somalia.
Here is the guy’s complaint email, with the details edited out to protect his identity from being fraudulently stolen. Some people need all the help they can get.
A few weeks ago I had my car keyed in the car park. These things happen, especially when the car park at work is used as a short cut for kids walking home from the local comprehensive school. The scratch was over 15cm long, which meant I couldn’t get it repaired on my inclusive insurance and had to pay for it myself.
Luckily I knew of Shine! Smart Repair, as I had used them twice before (perhaps no lucky to have to use them three times, but you get what I mean).
Here is a picture of the scratch on the car, taken before Christmas.
Here is a picture of the same panel of the car, after Shine! repaired it this week.
As ever, the guys have worked miracles. I often post on here when things go wrong with companies, so it’s only fair I do so when things go right (or go above expectation as they have here). You can’t see a trace of the scratch. I really don’t know how they do it.
If you’re unlucky enough to have need for any scratch or dent repair, I can’t recommend these guys highly enough. The cost of the repair was under £200 (including VAT) and the car colour is tungsten silver, so don’t worry about metallic paint, or complex car colours – it makes no difference to these guys.
Lately I have found myself spending more time removing links for clients than doing anything else, and it’s given me more of an insight into the lengths some dodgy SEO companies have gone to over the years in building links for their clients in the first place. Some seriously unethical people, claiming to be SEO experts, seem to have dedicated their time to building networks of spam websites, filled with shoddy content, solely for the purpose of linking to their clients in a bid to boost their rankings. The sad part is that this will have worked once upon a time. Now however, with Google getting much better at identifying links which exist purely for the practice of boosting someone’s rankings, these dodgy links actually harm your rankings now.
But enough of that, let’s name names. All of the following domains are identical websites on the same IP Address, 188.8.131.52, and all are used for spam link building (if you have links from any of these sites and you haven’t disavowed them, you’d better get on it).
Of course, where spam websites such as these used to make money by getting SEO companies, webmasters and budding internet ‘gurus’ to pay for link submissions, they have now done a complete 180 and are charging people to have their links removed.
That’s right – as if using paid links wasn’t bad enough, the SEO industry is getting even more of a tarnished reputation by the owners of these awful websites charging people for the privilege having harmful links removed. Each one of the websites contains the following text on their ‘Link Removal’ pages.
Priority Removal – Pay and remove your links – Within 48 hours
Send us a little donation on Paypal ($5+) and we promise to remove your links within 48 hours.
I decided to have a look and see just how bad the situation had become and searched for other websites using this exact same text and, much to my horror, found the following domains – which are all identical – all charging for link removals. Whoever runs these websites should be taken outside and shot.
So does this mean you should be paying to have your link removed from a website such as this? Absolutely not. As much as ‘paying for links’ is unethical, paying to have links removed is still spending money to manipulate links in order to affect search results. Don’t do it. These scammers (and that’s what they are) have made enough money ripping people off to build the links without holding website owners to ransom to get the links removed again.
Instead, simply file a disavow submission with Google to have Google ignore these links. By doing this you get the negative affect these links are having on your website removed, and you get the warm fuzzy feeling of letting Google know these links are spam (and the knowledge that, if it didn’t already, Google will take action on these websites).
Isn’t that better?
Finally, don’t take the existence of spammers such as this as an affirmation the SEO industry is unethical, or is dead. You get these sorts of cowboys in any industry, it just so happens there are more of them within the field of Internet marketing and they’re often more difficult to spot. Just as there are spammers out there, there are also good quality companies offering top notch Internet marketing which works – and doesn’t revolve around shoddy links which will only serve to damage your website’s rankings.
The below image sums up everything that’s wrong with the web design industry.
If you don’t quite get what it means, allow me to explain. Wix is a free website builder, much like Geocities, MrSite, 20m.com, GBBO or the many other free website builders which came before it. Like the many website builders which came before it, Wix uses a really simple WIZYWIG interface so people with no experience of building websites can, well, build a website.
This of course leads them to think they can actually ‘build a website’ – as Rien believes in the comment he made on Facebook on a post made by Wix. Just because you have used a free website builder does NOT mean you’re a web designer, yet he’s all set to offer his ‘services’ to friends and companies alike… and they’ll pay him too.
Why? Because he can do it cheaper than a professional website designer. He has no overheads, no expenses, nothing. He’s using a free website builder and thinks he’s a web designer.
You don’t hammer a nail in a wall to hang a picture and suddenly think you’re a builder, and offer to build extensions for people. You don’t put a plaster on your finger after the aforementioned picture hanging went array and you’ve hit your finger with the hammer and then think you’re a doctor, offering to treat patients and do surgeries. You don’t change a wheel on your car and then think you can strip an engine, but, for some reason, any idiot can call themselves a web designer after using one free site building service like Wix.
Wix may be very good. It may offer great value for money (hell, it’s free, it can hardly be a rip-off) but using Wix doesn’t make someone a web designer. Claiming to be a web designer after using Wix is moronic and irresponsible. You don’t know what you’re doing and you’ll jeopardise someone’s business by taking money from them to ‘design’ their website.
I really feel there should be some sort of standard within this industry. What makes it worse is 16 people have liked his comment on Facebook, so he’s getting support and is being given the impression his idea is a good one.
I wrote a post for Engage Web a few years ago about how Bing’s TV advert left a lot to be desired when it came to their search results. Now Bing has released a new campaign, once again attempting to ‘prove’ they’re better than Google.
Go on, take the Bing challenge and see for yourself.
If you’ve ever wanted to recycle your mobile phone, the chances are you’ll have come across a website called Cash4Phones. When you use those phone recycle comparison websites, looking for the best price for your phone, they’re the ones who usually come out on top as offering the most money.
However, before you leap straight into accepting their offer you should read what really happens, or at least what really happened to me and a friend of mine when we both sent our phones off to Cash4Phones at the exact same time. I’m not suggesting this is how Cash4Phones deals with every customer but, according to the reviews I have read online and the identical way both myself and my friend were treated, it’s a fair assumption.
I entered the details of my iPhone 4 on their website, to be presented with the offer of £131.02. This was higher than any other mobile phone recycling website was offering, so I accepted their offer and waited for their stamped addressed envelope to appear through my door. Sure enough, this came within a couple of days. I must confess, I was a little surprised to see the envelope being so thin (just a piece of plastic really) and offering no protection for a phone whatsoever.
Still, I sent my phone off (recorded, as they suggested, so I paid to send it) and waited for the money to land in my bank account.
I didn’t have to wait long before I received an email from Cash4Phones stating my handset was damaged, and they were now only offering me £45.85 – a fraction of the original offer.
Their email also contains the line:
If you feel that there has been a mistake with your Order, please do give us a call.
Of course there has been a mistake! However, there is no phone number in the email, and no phone number on the website. Alarm bells were ringing, and I felt pretty stupid for not Googling Cash4Phones before accepting their offer. Their website still doesn’t have a phone number on today, which is a clear sign they’re not to be trusted. Luckily by Googling I was able to track down a number on various other websites, where stories of their business practices were ringing in my ears. Their number, should you need it (and I suspect you do) is 0845 4601064.
I telephoned them immediately (recording the call, obviously) and this is what happened.
So, Cash4Phones offers the highest amount for a phone, then makes up ‘damages’ to your phone and reduces their offer, which you can either accept or refuse – paying them £10 to get your phone back. Was this a one off? No, because my friend had the exact same reduced offer for fictitious damages. Funny that eh?
Esther, from Cash4Phones, did indeed call me back about my phone. This is what happened.
Naturally I didn’t take that increased offer either. I’m not being ripped off by these crooks (and yes, I’m using the word ‘crooks’ because that’s what they are). It’s funny how they had made a ‘mistake’ with my phone and, strangely enough, the exact same thing happened with my friend’s phone too. Another mistake, and their offer was increased as well. The bloody crooks.
What’s even worse, and I’ve seen online this has happened to a number of their victims (sorry, customers) – when I logged into their website to ‘decline’ the offer I found it had been approved. Not by me it bloody hadn’t. That’s right, they automatically accept the offer on your behalf, before the deadline, and keep your phone anyway. The bloody crooks.
I phoned them back fuelled with a renewed anger and was amazed, and perhaps slightly disappointed, to find they caved and offered me the full amount for my phone.
It seems if you record your calls and broadcast them on YouTube, you’ll get results. Don’t use Cash4Phones, they’ll rip you off. If you have made the mistake of using them, call them and record it. Keep at them and don’t let go. They will cave.
I’ve heard too that Cash4Phones is on BBC Watchdog tonight. That should be interesting, and it’s about time too. If you’ve come here after using Cash4Phones, or after watching Watchdog, tell me about your experiences. What happened? Did you get your full amount or your phone back?
Over the years I have received a vast number of guest post, or article exchange request, emails from people. The vast majority of these I just delete but, given the emphasis Google is now placing on identifying poor quality links, I felt I should share one I received today in the hope it stops at least one person from taking up one of these ‘offers’.
The below email comes in two parts, as many of these spam requests do, appearing to be an original email I have received and a follow up email. This is a clever trick to make the recipient think they’ve entered into conversation with the sender already. I haven’t, it’s just spam.
You will notice the name of the sender is Indian, and the email address used is a free one at Gmail. The better educated among you will also notice the grammar in the email is poor. This always surprises me actually. If you’re going to the trouble of sending out thousands of spam emails looking for links on websites, you could at least ensure your own email is written properly. A little effort up from would save a lot of wasted effort in sending the emails. But anyway, I’m glad they don’t as it makes it even more obvious to spot.
You can also see the sender has requested a link on CSAhell.com, but the email didn’t come through the contact form. No, it came through the info@ email address. This again is a red flag because it shows someone has sent that email on spec to info@, hoping it exists and someone will receive it. They haven’t ‘gone through the site’ at all, and I’m sure they don’t ‘appreciate your hard work’.
Please, I implore you, if you receive emails such as this don’t reply and don’t take them up on it; just delete them. It won’t help your website’s rankings, it’ll have the opposite effect.
I hope you are doing well. I believe you receive my previous mail. For the time being am sending few sites of mine.
Please send me your feedback as soon as possible so that I can start writing article which will be suitable for your site ” www.csahell.com “.
Waiting for your kind response.
Thanks & regards,
And the ‘original’ email…
On Tue, Jul 30, 2013 at 10:10 AM, Basij Lorena <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
I am Lorena member of financial domains on debt, loan, mortgage and other various finance topics. Today, while searching for a suitable blog, I just come across yours. I have gone through it and found it very resourceful. I must appreciate your hard work.
It will be my pleasure if I can contribute some quality content for your site ” www.csahell.com ” each of my content will be analytical and relevant . If you wish, you can suggest few topics on which you would like me to write. Not only that, I will give you the total right to edit the article and modify it as per your needs.
In return, I would gladly place your articles in my websites. This mutual content exchange will help our websites to get more targeted visitors.
Let me know your thoughts.
Waiting for your positive reply.
If, like me, you’ve been a member of eBay for many years (13 years for me) you’ll know the website has gone through a few changes. One of the changes I’m not so keen on is the loss of the ability for sellers to leave negative feedback for bidders who never pay. If a bidder proves to be an utter timewaster now you can report them as a non paying bidder, where you’ll receive a credit for the final listing fee, and that’s supposed to be recorded on their account as a black mark – restricting their ability to bid.
But does it? I’ve just had two non-paying bidders for items and, after checking their feedback, have seen many sellers who have left them ‘positive feedback’ (as that’s all you can leave) but with a decidedly negative comment on how they haven’t paid. eBay doesn’t want you actually doing this, but some sellers are so angry they’ve felt compelled to do it.
Today I contacted eBay’s online support team to find out what a seller can do to ensure these timewasters don’t bid on their listings when they have no intention of paying, and to find out exactly how many times a buyer can be a non-paying bidder before they’re banned. eBay does actually have a good system to stop timewasters from even bidding on your items – it’s just well hidden. Read on and you’ll see how to do this.
I’ve also linked to the two non-paying bidders for you – so you can block them yourself. I’d do that if I were you.
Welcome to eBay Live Help, my name is Elsie. How may I be of assistance?
Hi – why has eBay removed the ability to leave negative feedback for buyers? This buyer, and another I reported today, haven’t paid or made any attempt to communicate. I can see other sellers have left ‘positive’ feedback for both of them with ‘non-paying bidder’ warnings in the comment, which you don’t actually allow – so what protection to do sellers have against timewasters such as this?
I’d be happy to help you out with leaving feedback to buyers. Please stay connected while I check this for you.
OK – the non-paying bidders, who I can see from their feedback have done this before, are cloudedruby and grumpykat22 – they should be warned or banned from using eBay.
Thank you for staying connected. As sellers like you will not be able to leave negative feedback to buyers, our Trust and Safety team keeps a track of such buyers & their bidding activities, and when we discover unethical bidding practices, such cases may also lead to suspensions, restrictions on the buyer’s account. The system keeps track of number of unpaid item recorded on a buyer’s account. Multiple records of this can cause them restrictions to continue with their buying activities.
How many is ‘multiple’? I can see from the feedback both of these buyers have done this before, more than once, and that’s just from the sellers who have left positive feedback with a negative comment. How many times can these people bid on items, win auctions and never pay? They’re wasting my time and yours if they’re bidding on items they have no intention of every paying for.
We also added protection for sellers aside from the usual filing of cases against buyers by removal of negative and neutral Feedback from suspended buyers and you can report to us if you are dealing with fraudulent buyers so we can take appropriate actions towards them.
How many times can bidders, such as grumpykat22, win auctions they don’t intend to pay for before you ban them?
I know how this concerns you Darren. To prevent non-paying buyers from bidding on your listing, I would advise that you set up your Buyer Requirements. This tool enables sellers like you to prevent or limit the buyers from bidding or buying their items if certain criteria are not met.
In order to resolve your issue, I will connect you with our UK Trust and Safety Team now. Would that be fine?
What are the buyer requirements? I have blocked these two bidders.
Buyer requirements is a tool wherein you can limit the buyers from bidding or purchasing on your items when some criterias are not met.
Ah – found that. That’s a good idea. Does it show the buyers they have been blocked and tell them why?
Yes, buyers will receive a note that they’re unable to place a bid or purchase an item from you and they will be able to see the reason.
Excellent, I like that. I’ve set that up now to block people with 2 unpaid notices in the last month. That should sort the problem out. I still want to know how many times they can do this before they are banned.
That’s great Darren. Non-paying buyers will only be restricted on purchasing items on the site if they received more than 2 unpaid item record on their account.
Surely grumpykat22 has more than that already? The feedback certainly suggests so.
I understnad your concern about buyer grumpykat22. Once they received more thn 2 Unpaid item record, they will be restricted on purchasing items.
In fact I can see loads of unpaid warnings on their feedback – they’ve done this many times since joining in January this year.
In order to resolve your issue, I will connect you with our UK Trust and Safety Team now. Would that be fine?
Seems they bid on items then decide whether they want them. Many sellers have gone through the same thing I have.
I have to leave the office sadly – but I would like an email about it if that’s possible. It looks like this buyer has got away with not paying since joining eBay.
I realise how this concerns you Darren. I will escalate this case to our relevant team in order for this to be looked into as soon as possible.
thetransformers.net Positive feedback rating Buyer did not pay for item!! Seller: Member ID happygurl60 ( Feedback score of 114Teal star icon for Feedback score between 100 to 499) 23-Mar-13 14:44 — (#290876631724) – Positive feedback rating TOTAL TIME WASTER – DID NOT PAY – HAD TO OPEN EB\AY CASE!!! ;-( Seller: Member ID redhouse52012 ( Feedback score of 126Teal star icon for Feedback score between 100 to 499) 23-Mar-13 13:48 — (#121079146345) – Positive feedback rating *****NEVER PAID***** Seller: Member ID volvoman66 ( Feedback score of 982Purple star icon for Feedback score between 500 to 999) 22-Mar-13 18:59
that’s just three in a short space of time
thetransformers.net Please escalate it, thanks. I look forward to hearing from someone.
You’re welcome Darren.
Is there anything else that I can help you with?
Nope, that’s great thanks. You’ve been very helpful.
Thank you for contacting eBay Live Help, have a good evening.
And you, thanks.
When I hear back from eBay regarding this I’ll post the response. The bidder grumpykat22 has received loads of negative comments yet they’re still happily bidding away on listings without paying. Will they be banned? Does eBay even ban bidders anymore. I’ll try and find out.
I'm an Affiliate Marketeer, SEO, web developer and all round Internet personage. I run a network of content websites on a variety of different subjects. I'm also victim to some of the worst luck in the world, and I tend to Blog about all of it here. more info
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