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Deception in action: Reeds Jewlers and PayPerPost

Background:
PayPerPost is a sleazy company that pays bloggers to write fake endorsements.  PayPerPost are the spammers of the blogosphere.  (Background here.)

There is a ton of controversy around this method.  PPP claims that their bloggers all fully disclose that they are paid for the ads.  Not true.  If it happens, is so buried or fudged that it just doesn’t count. Result: Free and honest conversation is buried under shameless deception-for-money.  I’ve asked the FTC to investigate PPP and asked venture capitalist Draper Fisher how they could dare fund such an evil company.

Whatever your position on the ethics/legality of PPP, other thing is clear:  It is embarrassing to the advertiser and deceptive to consumers.  Take a look at it in action:

Reeds Jewelers is a reputable jewelery site that was dumb enough to pay PayPerPost to pay liars for them. Look at these fake blog posts:

#1. http://www.gwapasila.com/2007/09/jewelry.html

A Filipina friend is fixing to go visit her family in the Philippines next month and I asked her already if she can carry a gift for my Grandmother who is celebrating her birthday soon. I am thinking to get her a jewelry because I found some really good pieces at Reeds jewelers. They have all kind, types, brand, materials of jewelry that you can think of. So why not check their website and browse their huge selection and pick your favorite today. Have fun shopping !   

#2. http://myproductreview.info/2007/09/11/jewelry/

Who does not just love to get nice jewelry. And there are just so many great sites these days that sell that quality jewelry at an affordable price. The site Reeds is very nice. I found it to be very user friendly and had no problem looking and searching for different items. If you are planning on getting someone jewelry for the holidays or just for any occasion then check out this site…they have nice items.

#3. http://nothingtoxic.blogspot.com/2007/09/reeds-jewelers.html

My girlfriend’s birthday is coming up, and I’m looking for a great gift for her. I’m thinking to offer her a beautiful jewel, a ring or a pendant, but, where to buy it? Throughout the internet there are numerous jewelry online stores, but I found one that has extraordinary jewels named Reeds.com website. Here I found great collections and exclusive jewelries. If you are looking for a jewel, so, advice you to visit this online store.

You get the idea.

Reeds … are you really that desperate that this is how you want to be seen?  Blatant shilling and fake endorsements by people who have never seen your products?  Does this fit into your brand message?  You should be embarrassed. 

Warning: Hiring PayPerPost is a great way to destroy your brand, encourage the wrath of honest blogs, and get fired when your boss figures out what you did.

Lesson:  Paying people to lie for you is lying. And bad marketing.

P.S. The scum at PayPerPost will probably write several blog posts attacking me for writing this. They have no shame and don’t hesitate to use deception to hide their true story. They also have a bunch of pet bloggers who will also repeat the attacks, presumably because they are being paid to do it.

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Comments

  1. Chris September 19, 2007 at 12:38 pm #

    Looks like they try a little too hard for search-engine plugs too, as seen in the awkward, unnatural wording that attempts to arbitrarily include frequently searched terms, regardless of how they sound in a sentence. Or they’re just morons.

  2. Lutchi September 20, 2007 at 2:43 am #

    The scum or sleazy person that wrote this article must really be desperate, probably PPP does not accept his endorsements , he was probably banned from PPP and now this is a shameless deception-for-money, this guy is using deception to hide is frustations…i am not even being paid to write this, i do it for free, you should do like the Kangaroo, hide your face in the ground.

  3. Andy Sernovitz September 20, 2007 at 7:05 am #

    As I said, they will start attacking.

  4. Market maker September 20, 2007 at 8:07 am #

    No one is attacking you.. but to quote you…Let’s keep the conversation civil and friendly! Word of Mouth Marketing is more
    of a deception-for-money and embarrassing to the advertiser and deceptive to consumers.
    No one is forcing or being forced to write or read anything on PPP, the only deception to hide their true story is found
    in Word of Mouth Marketing.

  5. Andy Sernovitz September 20, 2007 at 8:17 am #

    Lutchi /Market maker (they are the same person)
    You take money to post positive statements about products you have never seen or used. You don’t tell people that you were paid to do it.
    That’s lying to people. It’s also illegal, according to the FTC. And it sure as hell isn’t word of mouth marketing.
    The fact that you changed your name when commenting on this blog is another example of your willingness to deceive. You also lied about being paid by PayPerPost to make the Reeds recommendation.

  6. Katie Konrath September 20, 2007 at 9:50 am #

    As a young graduate student without a lot of disposable income, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that PayPerPost hasn’t looked appealing to me at times. An extra hundred bucks a month or so would actually be pretty welcome.
    But every time I’ve caught myself thinking about it, I take a step back and ask myself what I’m really trying to accomplish with my blog. I write my blog for only a couple reasons: to challenge myself to think about creativity on a regular basis, to interact with other people on the blogosphere, and because I want to show people that I can write. And most of all, I want to get my voice out there.
    When I remember that, it’s an easy decision: no PayPerPost. If the most important thing is for me to blog in my own voice, using PayPerPost would be selling my soul.
    But I can see why some bloggers like it, and I understand its appeal. When you’re spending a lot of time on a blog, and could really use some extra money, a couple quick shill posts don’t seem like such a big deal.
    I also see why the WOMMA doesn’t like it. When the focus is on building buzz around products that are truly worthy of being talked about, PayPerPost is a cheap way for companies to say they’re doing word-of-mouth-marketing without putting in the effort to come up with something actually remarkable. Plus it gives a bad name to the practice as a whole.
    I don’t know anything about the PayPerPost crowd attacking critics, but I do have to say I’m a little disturbed that one of the bloggers used as an example above felt like they had to hide (badly, because the website is visible) behind a fake name in their second comment.
    Might have just been better to say that “Yes, I use PayPerPost, but that is for …(a reason)… Andy made some good points about how companies are stupid to do such a thing, but as long as the system is in place, I’m ok with using it.”
    It’s the companies paying PayPerPost who are the biggest losers. Anyone with any intelligence can see through the “genuine” reviews that the bloggers write.

  7. CEO September 20, 2007 at 1:58 pm #

    Before you talk about PPP or any other program like that, you should see what your readers think about your site and book. I know that you want to be a protagonist in this film to sell more books and increase your poor traffic, but you chose the wrong side of the coin. Shame on you !!!

  8. Andy Sernovitz September 20, 2007 at 2:16 pm #

    Note the threatening tone from PPP’s attackers. And the fact they hide their name and identity when attacking. These folks aren’t big on honesty or playing fair.

  9. JOE September 20, 2007 at 5:41 pm #

    Just for the record…every post placed on blogs mentiones ” THIS IS A SPONSERED POST ” only a moron
    does not see this, or understand.
    In any case this ” Deception in action ” is a attempt by yet another moron to pass is frustrations to the public…END OF STORY.

  10. Andy Sernovitz September 20, 2007 at 6:39 pm #

    Not really.
    Most of them don’t say that. Some have an ad in the sidebar, that says they work with PPP, but it isn’t in the post. You have to be a detective, and familiar with PPP, to even know that these are related.
    The average reader will be deceived. In fact, poor disclosure is worse than no disclosure. It is intentionally confusing and deceptive. Weak disclosure is just cover than empowers the lying. Hiding that you were paid by burying it in fine print proved that you intent to deceive.
    Honest disclosure is good. But honest disclosure means that you disclose that you were paid – in the actual post – with a clear statement such as “this is a paid recommendation or review.”
    Once again, PPP’s fans love to fudge the fact that they are fudging.

  11. Andy Sernovitz September 20, 2007 at 6:45 pm #

    Funny how the PPP supporters usually don’t provide real names or their web sites when they post. Are they embarrassed?

  12. Sue September 23, 2007 at 9:35 am #

    Would the average reader really be deceived by the posts you quote? They look like blatant advertising to me: personally I’d read them and think “good grief, poor old reeds.com haven’t got their money’s worth there”. There’s nothing in the posts that makes me want to visit the site: they’re just rubbishy spam posts that no one would take any notice of, surely?
    Disclosure: And no, fwiw, I’m nothing what so ever to do with PPP. I’ve written one review for Review Me, which was clearly labelled at the beginning as paid-for and which gave what I think was a balanced view of the product I was reviewing – i.e. I mentioned its bad points, of which there were many!!

  13. Mistie Thompson December 3, 2007 at 4:30 pm #

    The fundamental problem with PPP (which apparently escapes the PPP spammers) is twofold: one, the beauty of the blogosphere is that it allows people to honestly talk to each other and share experiences about events, products, services, etc., thus allowing all who participate to become more informed and more satisfied consumers – PPP corrupts that process; and two, despite what PPP spammers and supporters will say, ethics and integrity stil mean something to most people I know. Life isn’t all about money, and there are some moral absolutes – some things that are fundamentally right and some that are dead wrong. My integrity, and the integrity of the people and companies I choose to do business with, is not for sale.

  14. Sue @ TameBay January 29, 2008 at 6:15 am #

    I just came back to read this post because I and many other eBay sellers have received spam from a company organising an event shortly. We’re being offered $25 off the ticket price for *positive* blog coverage inviting others to attend.
    I felt completely furious when I read this: the combination of multiple spams and requiring positive coverage has ensured that this company will receive nothing but negative coverage from me. And I’m really looking for an authoritative WOM marketer whom I can quote saying “requiring positive coverage is a big mistake”. It’s quite surprising how hard that is to find!

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