11/30/2005

Digg Users Take Revenge At Bad Online Store

Filed under: — By Aviran Mordo @ 2:06 pm

Thomas Hawk is a photographer which photography is a passionate hobby of his. For weeks he has been waiting for a price drop on a camera that he wanted, and when it finally reached his price range he decided to buy it, after checking for the best price.

As it turns out the best price was found at PriceRitePhoto so he went out and made the purchase. After completing the order thing started to go south.

“I will make sure you will never be able to place an order on the internet again.” “I’m an attorney, I will sue you.” “I will call the CEO of your company and play him the tape of this phone call.” “I’m going to call your local police and have two officers come over and arrest you.” “You’d better get this through your thick skull.” “You have no idea who you are dealing with.”

These are all direct threats that I received today from an individual who identified himself as Steve Phillips, the manager of PriceRitePhoto in Brooklyn, New York when he called to inquire about his order with them. This abuse came after telling them that he planned to write an article about the unfortunate experience with this company regarding the camera order.

After Hawk wrote the article on his blog, he published it on Digg.com and the response from Digg users was tremendous.

Beside the usual advice (always check seller ratings etc’) dig users decided to take action and posted the store’s aliases, phone number and address. Users then started to flood PriceRitePhoto 800 number with phone calls, writing scripts using Skype to call and disconnect, making prank calls (http://danny.st/tmp/pricerite.mp3 , http://danny.st/tmp/pricerite2.mp3), launching DOS attacks against the site, posting bad reviews on web sites, posting links to Hawk’s blog on internet forums, flooding PriceRitePhoto with email messages, posted complaints to the better business bureau , sending fax messages and succeeded to bring down their live chat feature.

After this kind of attack maybe merchants will try harder to provide a better customer service, well at least one has definitely learned his lesson.

Thanks to KilleRabbit from the forum for the heads up

Related: PriceRitePhoto Apologises
Customer Service Sucks! A Letter to the CEOs of America

 

45 Responses to “Digg Users Take Revenge At Bad Online Store”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    can you say “owned?”

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I think its great that many people are trying to help, but I just hope that this sort of behavior doesn’t turn into a trend against vendors—while this guy certainly deserved everything he got (and probably more) who will be the ultimate decider on when a vendor has crossed the line? This is vigilante justice; there are proper channels to deal with this.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    pwnd

  4. Danny B Says:

    “there are proper channels to deal with this”

    HA! You’re cracking me up here! What are we supposed to do, call the police? “yea… this guy is calling me names.. can you go arrest him?” Right.

    Us consumers generally aren’t a bunch of torch-carrying hoodlums who are just dying to jump on just any merchant. However, us banding together to RID ourselves of scum like this truly shows the beauty of a community that won’t stand for these types of people who blatantly rip us off! The saddest part is that he WILL get away with it, unless the NY D.A.’s office decides to do something about it. As well, unless the FBI decides to get him for fraud, and chances of any of that happening are pretty slim to none.

    Vigilante justice? Maybe, but it’s well served in this case.

  5. SHENSMan Says:

    And how do you know that the kid wasn’t lying about the whole thing. He probally made up the whole story or was a competing vendor.
    I hope everyone who launched a DOS attack against them or flooded their phone lines get arrested.

  6. Remog Says:

    SHENSMan, You’re kidding right?

  7. Anonymous Says:

    thomas hawk is no “kid”

    why the hell would he make it up even if he were?

  8. Tom Says:

    SHENSMan, why would he?

  9. SHENSMan Says:

    Why would he?

    Because he’s a cruel person who likes playing jokes on people? How can any of us be 100% sure thats what exactly transpired between the store and Hawk?
    “Oh but it was written on the int4rw3b then it must be true… “, if thats a case I’d like to introduce you to my crown prince brother of Nigeria who has millions of dollars….

  10. Thehig Says:

    Well if you read the reviews about this store this is par for the course for them. So if it walks like a duck…. etc….

    Just stay away go to the good stores and give them your business.

  11. Hey Says:

    I’m honestly wondering if SHENSMan and some of the Anonymous people who left a reply are part of this fraudulant company. I believe it because there are reviews of other people having the same service. I highly doubt all these people that gave bad reviews before this posting are all competitors.

    These online companies KNOW they can get away with it because they know that laws can’t bring them down all the time. Nobody is being hurt except the customers who are being threatened by this company. And personally, andy company who THREATENS their customers, MULTIPLE TIMES, deserves to have their Customer Service department revaamped!! If the company is really a reputable company, then they will make some sort of apology, or the CEO will step out of his hiding spot and make some public statement, and then there will be no more incidents like what these customers have dealt with. Thus far, there has been nothing.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Check the original story, it seems real alright. There are mp3s showing prank calls to these crooks.

  13. Remog Says:

    SHENSMan, I assume by your postings, you are one who automatically assumes the worst in people; but, what the hey, an opinion is an opinion.

    I am a person who supports the victims of “consumer evils” so to speak. I’ve seen from people I know personally the effects of what happens from events of the very same caliber of what happened in Hawk’s account.

    The very fact that, there is no shortage of information on this company that only furthers to support the type of experience that Hawk claims to have had. (Unless of course by your definition he some how planted that information in some elaborate scheme to discredit the company for his own evil gains)

    I would like to thing the majority of people are trying to do things for the sake of informing others and warning those who might get caught in the traps of bad business. but hey its only my opinion and of course he’s a “cruel person” exercising his rights, silly me.

  14. SHENSMan Says:

    What I’m trying to say is that we as outside observers don’t know exactly what happend between the two in this specific case… DOSing their servers, flooding their phonelines… c’mon.. contrary to what has been said their is a way to get companies in trouble without sabatoging their hardware… its called the BBB and the AG. Hawk did the right thing in complaining to them.

    We have laws and processes in this country. Instead of trampling over them, we are being overcome by mob mentality and taking matters in our own hands.. and that is in every way more dispicible what this company supposedly tried to pull off.

  15. Remog Says:

    SHENSMan,

    I have to agree with you there. The rash reactions of some the diggers should not have happened. I don’t agree with them DDOSing or flooding phone lines with prank calls.

    One has to note though the actions of many people may not happen if some of these procedures and practices that are in place to “protect” consumers were more effective in actually doing as advertised.

    I am a Canadian, we have many of the same types of systems in place here as are in the US. and its no secret that these systems can be improved, reaction times can be long in waiting and results can end up not even covering the costs of the original action. What I’m saying is, people would be more likely to accept the systems if they could be guaranteed the knowledge that there well being can be guaranteed in that case.

    That being said, and me re-iterating, I commend many of the actions of Hawk, going to his credit card holder and seeking fraud protection, consulting the BBB and contacting the NY Attorney General. if he sees resolution great, but it is time that will tell how it is resolved.

  16. not an apologist Says:

    SHENman, I think if you apply basic critical reasoning and Occam’s razor to this, you’ll see that the far more possible answer is that Hawk is not lying. And your comparison to a Nigerian scam is completey illogical, as the Nigerian scammers benefit from people falling for their lies.

    Q) who has the most to win or lose from the argument?

    A) obviously, Hawk has nothing to gain from making incorrect assertions about the company. And the fact that several hundred other people on review sites note receiving similar treatment, that would tend to back up his assertion. Your treating him as a liar without any proof whatsoever is simply ad-hominem, and quite frankly is cowardly.

    Additionally, the shop owner has EVERYTHING to gain from defaming Hawk and denying Hawk’s account.

  17. medbob Says:

    I agree. Automated responses and DDOS attacks are inappropriate and a childish response.
    Direct phone calls by live people expressing their opinion to the company, and live e-mails, and live visits to their web site to complain are all legitimate responses.
    Given the slashdot effect, these responses are just as effective in getting in the way of “business as usual” for these folks, and properly express the outrage of folks at this type of vendor.
    Let’s use logic, reason and proper decorum.
    After all, with great power comes great responsibility….
    (Seems I heard that somewhere…..)

  18. Hey Says:

    As a clarification to my first paragraph, when I said “I believe it”…I was referring to the fact that I beleive that this company was really a scam. And the people who are calling up and causing this company frustration, I think are perfectly fine. I’m sure the same people aren’t going around doing it to every online store. Just ones that have the nerve to threaten.

    If a company is going to give CRAPPY customer service, and if no one else is going to do anything about it (FBI, BBB, NYPD, etc) then why not have a little fun with them, and make their jobs miserable. Just a little payback for stealing people’s money.

  19. Hey Says:

    Just as a clarification when I said “I believe it” I beleive the company is a scam. And if no one can stop it (BBB, NYPD, FBI, etc.) then why not give them a hard time…since after all, they have stole a lot of people’s money!!

    Anonymous Says:
    “I think its great that many people are trying to help, but I just hope that this sort of behavior doesn’t turn into a trend against vendors—while this guy certainly deserved everything he got (and probably more) who will be the ultimate decider on when a vendor has crossed the line? This is vigilante justice; there are proper channels to deal with this. ”

    Um, how about threatening? Shouldn’t that cross the line? How about theft? I think both of those CLEARLY cross the line. Especially after it has been done multiple times, and to multiple people. Sure a vendor can have one irate employee that may be retliating…but where most of the company does the same thing….come on…..don’t tell me we are THAT lenient about customer service?

    Sorry, there’s my rant! :-)

  20. Koreanetizens Says:

    We, the users, own the net. as such, we are responsible for erradicating the sharks.
    You all know damn well that the police, DA, FBI, and such do not have the ability or will to police the web.
    As an international user, from Korea, I do not rely on American law enforcement to protect my rights. The sad thing is, there is no international government agency to protect us.
    The web is a new world, such as the american west was in the cowboy times. And vigilante justice was the only justice that existed. A man would hang for killing someone, stealing a horse or insulting the wrong guy. That’s how you Americans develeoped the justice you’re so proud of.
    Let the scammers beware. The people have the right, the power, and the will to attack them when they attempt to take advantage of us.

    Mr Priceright owner: unless you publish a full explanation, and an apology on the front of your page to Mr. hawk, you are going to get hell unleashed like you’ve never seen. The attacks you’ve recieved so far are spam mail compared to what Korean netizens are going to do to your server.
    Be warned.

  21. miscblogger Says:

    go digg users! teach them a lesson!

  22. Anonymous Says:

    This is one of those companies that is so sleazy that you can’t distinguish between the true praise and the false praise. I am sure that many have been lucky and managed to squeeze a good price out of PriceRite. On the other hand, the employees have probably written several other reviews.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    Koreanetizens: Sadly, that’s overly dramaticized. Web sites can be taken down by governemnts easily. Evidence of this is available at the RI/MPAA victim sites. Sites with illegal content attempt to hide behind disclaimers and loopholes, a nice tactic that outwits rigid pre-Net laws.

  24. crapcrapcrap Says:

    i saw a lot of comparisons to “mob justice” etc…

    but… werent the american revolution and civil war both examples of how the “mob” brought the tyrant down? american NEEDS more mobs taking justice into their own hands.

    overrun the cities, fell the institutions. set the sky on fire and bring peace on earth.

  25. oldcyborg Says:

    From a digger who did not participate in the hazing of the store owner. I guess I’d have to say, You had to be here, and see the pictures of their storefronts, and their various company names, and the pictures of THe Main company, which was truly awful. When you see this unfold, and check out Hawk, then you almost feel like it was yourself. I cannot blame those(obviously younger than I), for taking action. I would have, at a younger age.

    This fellow was yelled and screamed at, cursed and threatened, when the company failed repeatedly to honor their policies..

    Just once in a while, it is good to see someone get some immediate gratification for such a slight, and over a good deal of money, where I come from… You can do all the right things, but short of being reassured by your credit card company, nothing else happens, if at all, for months, and thats if you are lucky.

    I consider this to be a Once in a great while thing, where everything we found out, supported Mr Hawk, and was severely negative toward the store. I myself, in the old days, bo’t a printer from one of those stores, and had it show up with no cartridges. they had opened the box and took them out. NOw what kinda crap is that? The manufacturer had included the cost of the cartridges and the company was taking em out, and selling em to you again. :) And there was nothing I could do about it, because their ad didn’t mention any cartidges. I knew about them, because I’m in the business, but I was new then, and didn’t know about NY camera stores!!!!!

    Yes, I am digg person.
    Cyborg

  26. J.Matthews Says:

    This reminds be of how the guys at http://www.etoy.com/ took down etoys.com over stealing their domain.
    They crashed the companies stock in a matter of weeks driving the price to zero by activism in the form of a cyber sit in.
    There was a great piece a few weeks back on them and their battle on TechTV or whatever they are calling themselves these days and an article in English here http://www.heise.de/tp/r4/artikel/5/5843/1.html

  27. Mr. X Says:

    “obviously, Hawk has nothing to gain from making incorrect assertions about the company.”

    That’s the point, unless you know Hawk personally, you have absolutely no way to be certain he has nothing to gain from it. He could be an ex employee, ex-girlfriend, competitor, etc… the list of possibilities is endless.

    If the DOS attacks and stuff really did take place, it’s scary stuff, and it will undoubtedly give ideas to unscrupulous people…

    The whole thing stinks. People don’t think before they act, and somehow always get more motivated when it comes to hurting than helping… now PriceRite has become the victim.

    This “revenge” is pretty much the stupidest thing anyone could have done.

  28. Jenzabar Says:

    We had a similar experience with Digitalfuze.com which is probably owned by the same people. My husband ordered a camera, got the call back and upsell. The guy who phoned was really pushy and when he refused the extras called him all sorts of names, saked “why would you f**k with someone who has your credit card number” then threatened to come to our house to beat my husband up. It was totally unbeliveable. We called their ISP, Enom, and filed a complaint but the site is still up. I for one am really glad to hear there’s some vigilante justice going on. Proper channels- RIGHT, file a complaint (which we did with the ISP, BBB and FBI) and nothing happens. Based on the whois search on Enom, Digitalfuze is the same company as Oneclickdigital.com;
    Best Buy Digital, a.k.a. Circuit Digital, d.b.a. circuitdigital.com, sourcefordigital.com, etc. 1080 McDonald Ave, Suite 303
    No doubt we should have done more research on them before placing an order but they deserve to be shut down becuase obviously the whole operation is fraudulent. Here’s where the slimes are operating out of:
    http://donwiss.com/pictures/BrooklynStores/
    Major Thanks to Don Wiss for the great resource!!

  29. Elinesca Says:

    Well, I know Thomas Hawk personally, and I can assure you that he had absolutely NO gain from this. Steve Philips’ horrid threats and repeated calls to Thomas Hawk’s employer was no joke to deal with.
    Thomas is just a person who loves photography and wanted a new camera. It just so happens that he runs a very popular blog and decided to share his story so that the rest of us won’t have to go through the same level of stress as he did, and others before him.

  30. Anonymous Says:

    Thats the fookin stuff. These guys should be put out of business, in fact about to call them in awhile. Cant wait to hear what they say. THIS IS A REAL STORY. Check anywhere that has reviews. All the high star ratings are spam. they only have “great site.” and “Shop there again” and “best site on the net” check this site and read the 4th review.

    http://www.smarter.com/review/priceritephoto_com-merchant-474/fromWhere=productPage

    Remind you of something? This is written proof that its the company that made it. The website are even conducting an investigation into the credibility of the high rated reviews. interesting………….

  31. KC Says:

    Price Rite Photo website is officially down. Goes to show that bad news travels fast. I hope they go down in a blaze of glory.

  32. Robert Says:

    The best thing that happened out of all of this is that more people are aware of what certain companies are doing. It’s takes a great deal of trust to give someone your CC# over the phone or the internet and to see something like this happen is scary. Although I don’t condone the use of DOS attacks or prank phonce calls, I can’t deny their impact on a vendor.

  33. Jason Says:

    SHENSman, based on the tails I’ve been hearing there are certainly enough individual reports to confirm that foul play is actually at hand. Consult the most recent Digg on the topic.

  34. discfree Says:

    I also know Tom personally and I can tell you that other then the ego trip from all the hits that he’s getting he has no agenda. In fact, he was offered a free 5D camera from the owner this morning and turned it down based on principal! (something I certainly wouldn’t have done) The reason why there has been “mob justice” is because this story resonates with a lot of us who have been ripped off over the last five years by scammers on the internet. There is nothing wrong with pricewrongs attempt at upselling consumers, but if someone says no, then they have a legal and ethical obligation to fill that order. It’s irresponsible to accuse Hawk of lying wiht all of the negative reviews out there. Hawk has been building a reputation online for the last year and a half and has wall street analysts, the CEO of Flickr and many DVR providers reading every word he publishes. Somehow I suspect that he wouldn’t risk destroying his reputation for a hatched job on NY scam retailer. I would also argue that given the attention this has recieved, if the Hawk did publish something inaccurate, I think it’s likely that he’d get sued for libel. When the owner of pricerite talked to him today, he told hawk he was losing hundreds of thousands of dollars due to the story. Hard to imagine that Tom would risk that kind of liability for a little internet traffic to a blog that still doesn’t even have adsense yet.

  35. roomba Says:

    That is just great you make an order then you get a phone call to buy more stuff. I order on line just to avoid the sales people, I do not want them to call my house.

  36. Will Says:

    This same guy ripped me off on a canon sd100 camera. He sent me a refurbished one and claimed it was new even though the box said it was refurbished and it will clearly used before. I called and complained and he said that he will put it on my credit report that I didn’t pay and will mess up my credit if I keep complaining. I filed a complaint with the NY D.A’s office and they refused to do anything about it even though I showed them evidence of over 100 people with the same type of problem. This was over a year ago and now real justice is being served!

  37. spacemonkey Says:

    these guys put one the prank calls in their show plueballs.com

    Pretty damn funny

  38. Rachel Says:

    Could DigitalFuze.com also be the same company? I had an almost identical situation with this company and also learned of a few other alias’: Best Buy Digital, a.k.a. Circuit Digital, d.b.a. circuitdigital.com, sourcefordigital.com, oneclickdigital.com, a.k.a. Digital Fuze & Digitalfotoclub.com. Please advise.

  39. Paul Says:

    I had a similar experience with Royal Camera. They engaged in bait and switch advertising, and violated several paragraphs of the NYS Business Code dealing with deceptive practices. They tried to defraud me by sending a lens of lesser value than what I had paid for. They finally agreed to take back their camera and fake lens but charged $69 for “service.” I’m still trying to deal with the credit card company on that, although I think Elliott Abrams could make a big name for himself by prosecuting these people. I’d dearly love to see them given prison sentences, as they are nothing other than criminals who prey on people’s gullibility.

  40. Dwatts Says:

    They advertise a low price on the web for there products then try to load you up with a lot of overpriced extras so as to boost the price up.
    If you don’t get the extras items then they try to discourage you purchasing the product you ordered.
    The site is a good example why people shy a way from doing business on the web.
    Shysters

  41. lmv1973 Says:

    I originally found this seller, oneclickdigital.com, through pricescan.com, a price comparison site.
    I placed an online order on 2/21/06 for one Sony DSC M2 for $369.00 U.S.D. plus $14.90 s&h. When I had not received any order confirmation the next day I called their 1-800 customer service #.
    The sales rep then explained to me an extended service plan for 5 years
    that included “accidental damage, theft and loss with no deductiable” for an additional $149.99. I specifically asked who the plan was from and he said “direct from sony”. When I doublechecked on this plan on their site after hanging up it was not described as he stated. I also checked the sony site and that plan does not exist. I called back immediately to double check to see if there was any misunderstanding and he very rudely told me it WAS as he had explained and what a good deal I was getting and hung up. I called back first thing the next morning (2/23) and stated that I wanted to cancel the order completely and was told I could not because it had already been shipped .
    Since then I have emailed customer service several times and called back repeatedly as well as checking the shipping status at their site. There was no tracking number and I have only rec’d one email response saying the tracking info would update by sunday 2/26 (I was originally told it would update in 24 hours on 2/23when I tried to cancel)
    Each time I call I get the same person, once I asked for a customer service manager & was told to call back in one hour when I called back the very same person told me that they were the owner of the company and repeated the exact same line about the great deal I was getting before hanging up.
    There have been other customer complaints posted about this same company on the pricerunner site since my purchase date stating similar incidents. There were also claims that this same company is operating under 4-5 other names. I went to the site of one of these other names listed, a Circuit Digital and I called their 1-800 sales number. When the sales rep answered all they said was “Can I help you?? without stating any company name. I then asked if I had reached oneclickdigital and was told yes I had. Then I asked the rep. if it was also Circuit Digital and was immediately told to please hold. I was on hold for ten minutes before I hung up and called back. I inquired again which company I had reached and was transferred. The next person tried to tell me that they had never heard of Circuit Digital even thought that was the # I had called, not the one on my invoice from oneclickdigital.com. They also have the EXACT same customer service email address.I can go to any of these sites and log on to the “my account” page wuth the email address and password I created at oneclickdigital and all of my info and the exact same order # come up

    Only after I emailed their customer service and stated that I would be reporting them for fraud did I get any response. I then explained that since the plan they sold me was bogus , I wanted the $149.99 charge for it removed and was told that I would have to wait until the package arrived because the plan was “in the box? and they don’t have the invoice # needed to refund. Then after several minutes of arguing they gave me a tracking number from U.S.P.S. ( I was told it would be shipped FedEx Priority when I paid) When I went to the U.S.P.S. website the number came up as invalid on the track and confirm search.

    Order # 209435

    Oneclickdigital.com / Ideal photo and video
    1080 McDonald Ave Suite 303
    Brooklyn, N.Y. 11230
    718-232-2749 / 877-232-2740
    (Email) - customer service@digitalsupportdepartment.com

    OneClickDigital.com
    7012 20th Ave.
    Brooklyn NY 11204 (address on site changed 3/3/06)

    Circuit Digital.com
    800-801-6016
    (Email) - customer service@digitalsupportdepartment.com

    Digital fuze
    1051 Dahill Road
    Brooklyn NY 11204
    UNITED STATES

    U.S.P.S. Tracking # 23031610600037224253

  42. Anonymous Says:

    Oneclick Digital is the pits! After not getting a response to my order or email inquiries for several days, I called and a rude sales person advised me that there was a three week backorder wait, hung up on me several times when I was trying to clarify the status of my order, was sarcastic and hostile.
    I will never do business with this company again, have advised my credit card company to be sure not to process the order, and will advise others personally and by on-line rating to avoid this company. Like the plague

  43. Mr.Amin Says:

    Dear Webmaster please add our company in your website the details are as follows:

    http://www.microglobe.co.uk

    Shop at Microglobe with wide selection of Digital cameras, Binoculars,
    Lenses, Flashguns, Telescopes, SLRs, Photographic & Bird watching
    equipments, Spotting scopes, camera accessories & much more at
    discount prices.

  44. Elton A. Burky Says:

    I have read with interest the experiences of Thomas Hawk with
    PriceRitePhoto.
    Recently I had an unpleasant event with DigitalFuze.com which may be part of the same company.
    I purchased a “new” digital camera from DigitalFuze over the internet.
    On receipt of delivery I noticed that the packaging was not what would normally be expected with new merchandise.
    The camera developed a malfunction and I sent it to the manufacturer’s repair service provider.
    A representative of that firm called to inform me that I would have to pay the repair bill as due to lack of a serial number on my “new”
    camera it was not covered under warranty and was undoubtedly
    stolen merchandise.
    After I placed my initial order with DigitalFuze I was called by a salesperson and solicited to purchase add ons including a more powerful battery and also an extended warranty.
    The battery shipped to me did not fit the camera nor have any of its replacements sent thereafter.
    Although I requested documentation on the extended warranty this was never provided either.
    I have filed a complaint with DCA but ama realistic enought to realize that nothing will probably ever come from it.

  45. I'll Says:

    This is precisely what I used to be searching for, thank you

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