I've know Rogier van Bakel for over 15 years. He wrote for Wired when I was an editor there, and he's also written for the New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Christian Science Monitor, Reason magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and Playboy. Here's an interesting story from Rogier about his experience with eBoost Media, a search engine optimization company. He asked me to share it with Boing Boing's readers:
Are all companies that sell search engine optimization services swindlers and crooks, as I've heard? Surely not, but my own experiences with a firm called eBoost Media quickly turned surreal, so I'd like to share the saga here -- and in return invite your wisdom.
Let me cut right to the heart (and the height) of the bizarre goings-on: on Friday evening, I received an anonymous, sneering, jeering voice-mail from an eBoost Media customer service rep. She called me a "faggot" and a "queer." I shit you not. This was her apparent retaliation for my demanding a refund due to the fact that the company had, for multiple weeks, not delivered one iota of what they said they would. I got tired of the excuses and wanted out, and they were giving me the runaround, so I laid it out simply enough by phone and e-mail: either you give me my money back or you'll be looking at a fraud investigation.
Here's the message I received in return. Actually, there are two. The first one (relatively polite, though the strained friendliness is pretty evident) is from an eBoost Media customer service manager called Denette. The second message, left just minutes later, is the fascinating one in which I'm addressed as, let us say, a flamboyant friend of Dorothy's. Is it the same woman on the recording, times two? Sounds like it to my (musically well-trained) ears.
This is the text verbatim:
"Hey Roger van Backel [butchering my name with obvious relish], you are a faggot! So listen to this, queer!" [unintelligible background noise and talking, then the name 'Roger' again, then she hangs up]
When I called him yesterday, eBoost's acting CEO Michael Luvano agreed to listen to the recording. He then acknowledged that the second call had come from someone at eBoost Media, but curiously enough, he denied it was Denette. The mystery culprit, he said hours after hearing the messages, had already been "dealt with" -- she'd been "severely reprimanded." When, puzzled, I suggested we ought to let other people listen to the messages on the Internet and solicit their opinions on whether or not it's the same voice, he got huffy and accused me of being out to badmouth his company.
Nonetheless, Luvano offered to have the CEO, Kevin Johnson (who he said was on vacation) write me a personal apology. He also said the company would finally refund the dough, which I appreciate.
Let's see if the money arrives. And Johnson's note, too.
Anyway, help me out here: Isn't the woman on the two voicemails one and the same? I'm curious what you think. (Remember, Luvano has already admitted it's someone who works for him at eBoost Media, and that that person has been disciplined, but that was all he would say on the matter.) Does anybody else suspect, as I do, that he's just blowing smoke by denying that the deranged individual who left message number two is the very same woman as the caller who left the first message?
Listen carefully and take the poll!
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects