Monday, January 07, 2008 owner harrased by an attorney from the Dozier Law Firm

Here's an example of a company and law firm of trying to suppress free speech by using outlandish claims and a variety of threats.

If you live in Direct Buy's market, you've seen their infomercials on your local television station. Direct Buy claims you can buy direct from the manufacture at below wholesale prices. The only catch is you have to have sign up for one of their plans (sounds similar to Ameriprise) . From the web site, the cost to do this will run you around 6,000 dollars for 2-3 years. Anyhow, the web site has 18 pages of negative comments on Direct Buy that Direct Buy didn't appreciate. Instead of trying to improve their business (sounds similar to Ameriprise), Direct Buy has decided to hire a law firm to intimidate the site's owner into shutting down the site or removing Direct Buy's negative comments.

The name of the law firm Direct Buy hired is Dozier Internet Law. The lawyer, Donald Morris, for this law firm proceeded to send web site a cease and desist letter threating the owner with a lawsuit but the real kicker here is he even threatened to sue the owner in Canada since Direct Buy has operations in Canada. Moreover, he threatened the owner if he posted the cease and desist letter that he'd be liable for more legal action since the letter was supposedly copyrighted.

Luckily, Paul Levy from Public Citizen is involved in the case and he sent a response to the cease and desist letter. Donald Morris then sent a threating letter to Paul Levy and Mr. Morris even posted the letter on his website. From reading his response, he and his client have received some type of retaliation by the internet community. As a result of the Streisand Effect the firm has been receiving, the managing partner of the law firm, John Dozier, tried to defend his firm's actions on another blog. On this blog, he states that a court in the United Kingdom upheld that a letter sent in a similar manner was found to have copyright protections. One minor issue with his argument; this isn't the UK. I also found a court ruling in Zimbabwe that said firms this stupid should have their law licenses revoked ;) .

You can read more comments on the blog that discusses this story in greater detail.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even as you read, this scam, which is nothing more than and a variation of the "Advance Fee Fraud" scheme, is parting yet more of the "something for nothing" crowd from their money.

Here's how it works: the potential victim is baited to call for more information after seeing a tempting infomercial and how on the "inside" someone can get better deals or a telephone "tickler" call is made to a potential victim and an informative letter or brochure is sent afterwards inviting them to an open house so they can see for themselves how much others like them have saved and how much they themselves would save, along with some form of an invitation to join. The letter and subsequent follow-up telephone calls promise rich rewards of savings by buying direct from the manufacturer, at cost, with no Mark Up, No Middleman if only they were "members" of this so called highly esteemed and long time in business organisation. Typically, the pitch at the open house includes mention the so called fact that tens of thousands of other smart and savvy consumers have saved along with a slick selection of what they have saved on -- and you, too, can begin saving as soon as you join this elustrous group by signing a "membership agreement" costing thousands of dollars payable in advance of receiving any benefits - you are told that amount is paltry compared to the savings you will obtain over a 10 year period - and you must sign the contract on a now or never basis. You are even made to feel stupid if you don't sign - only a fool would not take advantage of the savings - spend a little to save a lot sort of thing.

If you're not saying "scam" by now, you should be. Should you agree to participate in this Advance Fee savings scam, something will go wrong. Savings evaporate ... or.. Wrong or defective merchandise will be ordered ... or ... Order delays ... or ... Order mishaps and screw-ups. You will not be allowed to cancel your "membership" and get out of the deal.

If you decide to order merchandise, money from you, in advance of receiving the merchandise -- an insignificant sum, really, in light of the windfall of savings about to land in your lap -- will be required to order merchandise without any written guarantees of actually saving money.. You pay, you wait for the merchandise . . . and all you'll get in return are more excuses about why the order is held up and assurances that everything can be straightened out if you'll just be patient and wait a little while longer or send a bit more to pay for this or that price increase. Once you start making threats, these scammers will threaten to sue you if you don't make good on your end of paying for the membership contract in full.

Beware that the Membership Agreement is in reality nothing more than a legally binding sales contract that may have been glossed over in light of all the savings you are excited about expecting. Carefully look at it - it contains NO GUARANTEES OF SAVINGS - instead there is a "NO ORAL PROMISES" clause: "No oral promises or statements not contained in this Membership Agreement shall bind or obligate the club." It's like a get out of jail free card - they can tell you anything pie in the sky in the open house tour or over the phone to get you to join, but once you sign the sales or Membership Agreement, you agree to the NO ORAL PROMISES clause! So what happens if it turns out not to be what you expected? Ouch. Too late. You're stuck. That NO ORAL PROMISES clause comes back and bites you. Want a refund? Beware that the Membership Agreement states: "Members understand this program is not sold on a trial basis and that no refund of membership fees will be made." So you only partially paid on your contract and think that you're just not going to pay the rest of the contracted amount? -- beware that the Membership Agreement states further: "Members do not have the right to terminate the Membership Agreement without paying the amount remaining for this Membership." And if you think you're going to get a refund because you never found anything cheaper and therefore didn't use the club, think again. There's a clause in the Membership Agreement about this too: "The Membership Agreement is not conditioned on the use of this Membership."

In a nutshell, the con works by blinding the victim with promises of an unimaginable fortune of what others like them have saved, what they could have saved if only they joined earlier, and what they can expect to save by joining now. Once the sucker is excited and sufficiently glittery-eyed over the prospect of what he or she would do with all the money he will save, he is then squeezed for however much membership fee in full at the time of "joining" or have the sales contract balance immediately financed by a separate finance company, actually a subsidiary of the parent scam company. The money the victim parts with willingly, thinking "What's $5,000 here when I'm going to end up saving over $50,000 when this is all done?" He fails to realize during the sting that he's never going to actually get the promised savings because all of savings are expressly disclaimed in the fine print of the contracts and merchandise ordering materials. The very sales contract, which the victim was at first eager to sign, now comes back to bite him with all those adverse terms and conditions. All of this messing around is designed to part him from his money.

Once the scam is explained, it seems so obvious a con that you'd wonder who would fall for it. Yet fall for it people do because they're mesmerized by the wealth that will soon be theirs in the form of all the savings by not paying any markup or middleman costs - and how smart they are by taking advantage of the join now or never opportunity. They also fail to realize there's a hook hanging just out of sight; at first all they see is that others are getting savings and they want to join this cadre, thus they're ill-prepared to mentally shift gears when the con artists turns the tables. Because the premise of "saving tons of money" is wholeheartedly swallowed early on, it's not at a later point questioned when things begin to go wrong with the transaction and the dupes who have been targeted find out the hard way that there is a no refund policy on all the money they have paid in advance of receiving these now questionable "savings."

Beware paying in advance for something for nothing - no written guarantees of promises made should send you running - especially in light of the tactics of "Be like me, I'm a member and I've saved money."

10:19 AM  

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