Did eBoost Media customer service rep call customer a faggot?

UPDATE: Our moderator Teresa dig quite a bit of digging into this search engine optimization company. I highly recommend you read her report on what people are saying about eBoost Media. Also, please note that eBoost Consulting is not eBoost Media. They are not related.
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.

Listen to the voicemail messages as a WMA file, or an MP3 file.

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!

eBoost Media calls customer a faggot


  1. I’m not so sure it is the same woman… could be. Maybe someone out there has some software that could help. But I think the greater concern is not that this is the same woman but that this call came from eBoost, regardless of who left the message. Shouldn’t this be considered a threat and reported to the authorities?

  2. i don’t think it’s the same woman. The second one’s voice seems deeper, but they are very close. Anyone else wondering what “severely reprimanded” means. Shouldn’t that person have been fired???

  3. has to be the same woman. though i would suggest that she sounds like she might have gotten a G&T or two in her. especially the “ffffAAAggot” part that sounds like a drunken sorostitute around 9pm on a sunday night.

    but he says the messages were left minutes apart, so maybe that blows my whole theory out of the water.

  4. and did a consumer take something way too personally? read these two blogs and tell me if you can find the difference.

  5. I made up my mind that it probably wasn’t the same woman before I saw the comments above, and frankly, why does it matter so much?

  6. #3

    I assumed it was because someone else was giving her a look, re: the bad phone behavior, and she was all like, hey, it’s ok, because it’s Roger, who we’ve obviously all been talking about in an abusive way.

  7. @RoyalTrux….

    are you saying that it doesn’t matter whether the two women are the same or are you saying it doesn’t matter about the 2nd phone call itself?

    if it’s the first, i think it has more to do with the ‘acting’ CEO lying about the situation. if it’s the second, then please post your phone number here so i can leave you voicemail messages in which i call you all kinds of foul things.


  8. @Kuanes

    I didn’t see why it mattered whether or not it was the same woman, but in light of your reminding me that would = lying, then, OK. The second call, no matter who from, is inexcusable…

  9. It’s hard to tell since the first call is obviously “professional phone voice” mode and the second call is not, but I do not think it is the same voice in the two messages.

  10. it seems like it’s the same woman’s voice. The exercise I used was to click on different points of slider of the mp3 file, then comparing them.
    In my opinion, it is not a coincidence that you got the “nice phone call” then the nasty call in the same day.

  11. I think it’s the same person. It’s the “Hey Roger” on both of the messages that gives it away.

  12. During my brief and bitter stint in real estate, I paid one of those optimization services a chunk of change. After ten months, they literally had not done one thing. I don’t mean no results, I mean no services rendered or actions taken. They even admitted it, with some vague excuse of having changed their interface-platform-chrono-synclastic-infundibulum to serve their clients better. One thing to note is that the original agreement stated that any lawsuit would have to be settled in Clark County, NV (Las Vegas). Just another little piece of the scam. As far as I can figure, their whole gig (had they done it) would have been to generate twenty keywords for my site. It’s a lot like the phone sex industry. The internet expert/hot chick is just someone’s grandma with a script.

  13. It was clearly the same woman. For the first message she was using a slight falsetto lilt and sing-songy cadence to be “polite”. The second message is her with all the surly get-out of a drunk bigot.

    It sounded like she had a bad day and dared herself to call you up and followed through!

  14. It could be Phreaks who don’t like Rogier van Bakel. Someone else must have thought this too, no?

  15. I think it is the same voice. I worked customer service for 7 years. You do put on a “professional phone voice” like #13 said. It’s higher pitched and happier.

  16. I just googled eboost media and almost every link on the first page has to due with warnings of fraud and scam about their company. I don’t know if it’s the same woman but I very much like the idea of accountability and consquences for people are belligerent or scammers.

  17. I can’t comment on eBoost, but to judge by the spam I receive, the sleaze/SEO intersection is fairly heavily populated. It doesn’t surprise me to hear of SEO firms taking the money and doing nothing (#16).

    The irony is that most of the key rules of SEO can be explained in a short page of text, and any business with a minimally competent webmaster/webdev team can apply them quickly, easily and inexpensively. Any firm that tries to pretend that it’s rocket science or tosses phrases like “guaranteed placement” around is blowing smoke.

  18. Hm. Really can’t tell if it’s the same voice or not, but as it’s the same company, and given the smokescreen the “acting CEO” laid down, I’d say it’s painting the company as much as the individual.

    It doesn’t sound like the same person to me, and as has been observed the second call sounds intoxicated. Either way, it’s pretty nauseating.

  19. A company who has bad customer service, isn’t it typical for a great deal of companies once they get their money the only service you get is bending over and getting schtupped in an uncomfortable place, and Im not talking in the back of a VW?

  20. That is shocking.

    And all he’s getting is the refund he was entitled to and an apology?


  21. Identity can be checked with a high degree of accuracy by frequency analysis. Add to that analysis of the way the speaker forms the words and pauses and you pretty much have a confirmation. Just for fun, changing your pitch whether it be by modulating your voice or by electronic means won’t disguise you at all to analysis.

    I know some theory, wish I had the practical knowhow and tools to do this.

  22. #23 anonymous, #7 edward sharp and other eBoost employees: stop trolling, y cnts. We see right through you. The call is utterly outrageous and beyond the pale, and nobody is going to think otherwise because you troll boingboing.

  23. SEO operations are all on the scammy side as far as I’m concerned. Build a good website with good content and you have no need for these “services”. You’ll get indexed and traffic as a result of your site, not some “optimization” outfit.

  24. Scammers will always try to make you feel bad for not buying into their scam on their terms, or for calling them on their BS. Then they make it about you.

    “Getting back with you after you left your voicemail” – That feeling of being defrauded, it’s the customers problem, not hers, because the customer isn’t available at her convenience to rectify his problem.

    “I’ve called several times”,”Hopefully you’ll be able to return one on my phone calls” – Makes clear the customer is not in charge and isn’t respected, and the tone of that “one” it’s obvious that the customer is being judged.

    “Thanks” – The passive aggressive icing on the cake.

    That second call is either her in a rage, her coworker sabotaging her, or her boss trying to make the problem go away by abusing it directly.

    I mean, so long as the customer is leaving because you called him a ‘faggot’, then the customer isn’t leaving because you do a crappy job.

    I had a similar experience quitting a job once (where I felt I was being scammed, and being asked to scam customers). As soon as I said I was leaving the thin veil of cilvility was lifted, and they were just nasty selfish bastards.

    Bravo for going public with it.

  25. I don’t think it’s the same person. The polite voice is lower and the pronunciation is somewhat slower. Also the rude voice seems to have an accent, maybe a mild touch of southern? Certainly not the same as the first. And the call quality is somewhat different between the two. The rude call has much more background noise and echo. You know, it depends on how their network/phone system is setup, but the nice call could be voip and the rude call could be a “hack” of sorts (or just someone being mischievous).

  26. @ #21, 30, et al:

    Coming in defense of SEO: Sure, the principles of SEO are pretty straightforward and can be easily explained to and implemented by a (possibly skilled) webmaster. But, as you move around the web, you’ve probably seen quite a few sites that can’t get it right. To someone who understands, basic SEO isn’t rocket science. But, having worked in SEO before, I’ve seen my share of eyes glaze over as I explain SEO 101. SEO is necessary in the same way that plumbers are, in my view. Even if I understand plumbing, I’d rather leave it to someone who has the experience to get it right. Nevermind that SEO gets pretty complicated when you’re dealing with large sites or sites with password protected content that you want searchable…

    Just like a lot of businesses (plumbers, mechanics, auto sales), there are an unfortunate number of scammers out there in SEO. The fact that scammers exist doesn’t make the service unimportant, however.

  27. oh dear.I do hope no one floods the web with that MP3 tagging it eBoost Media so it is the first thing that comes up when googled for all eternity. That would be most unfortunate.

  28. I’ve heard way worse, I suggest you be a man, suck it up and let that chick hv hr ‘spcl tm f th mnth’. I fully agree that if the evidence was concrete this individual should be pursued for punitive damages, but I thought the recording was kind of weak, but very funny at your expense. Thanks for sharing it! Get back your cash :D

  29. Hmm, so you pay someone to scam search engines, and they turn around and scam you. Quel surprise!

  30. I’ve gotten strange voicemail messages on my GrandCentral account from telemarketing centers…the kind of messages that normally sound like a friend’s cell phone inadvertently pocket-dialed me, and so the message is some rustling pocket noise and people mumbling in the background and whatnot.

    Here’s 0:55 featuring a lady looking at baby pictures or something, from the people who try to get you to buy protection for your Discover card for like $25 a month: http://embed.grandcentral.com/flash/GC_EmbedPlayer.swf?e=44cc5562d6d7cfe4ffb8c&m=a296eb6ed778217bb3e109de1da24f4c

    Are auto-dialers drunk-dialing me?

  31. It sounds like Roger was being a bit of a douche to me. First he threatens a fraud investigation and then (according to the message) doesn’t return her calls. Then he threatens to (and eventually does) put the unsubstantiated accusation on the internet. Being called a faggot and a queer is complete bullshit, not to mention immature–that goes without saying. But he was acting like a turd. “Oh, look at me, I have a blog, you have to do whatever I say or else I’ll post about it.” That’s bullshit too.

    1. So he was ripped off, harassed and insulted, but he’s a turd for threatening to expose them for what they are? I don’t really follow your logic.

  32. @40 – The company calling someone a faggot or queer is immature, I agree.

    So, what point are you attempting when you call someone a douche and a turd in the very next breath?

    Bullshit is when someone rewrites the facts and timeline to suit their needs. I call it on thee.

    Also, re: ‘unsubstantiated account’ – The company has stated both calls came from the company. So that word also means something other than what you think it means.

    Just as the customer rep said in the message: Thanks

  33. That call probably came from one of hundreds of call centers that operate on nearly sweat shop terms. I worked in a related call center capacity for 2 1/2 years. At the end of our project we had 250 seats filled. In most inbound call centers the staff turnover goal is 85% – 115%/year. There’s a huge amount of churn, with many long term call center employees having worked for 5 or more centers. It’s hellish. Lots of people quit from the stress, and when they do their last call is often a doozy. We used to listen to the recordings of the bad ones at staff meetings. You’d think it would be funny to hear someone freak out and go off on a stranger before burning rubber out of the building inches ahead of Security. It’s funny until you realize that level of anger is present in everyone wearing a headset, just under the surface. It’s inexcusable to verbally abuse and insult some one on the phone, but understand that the anger and frustration that drive that reaction are inherent in the call center environment by design.

    1. that’s why I make them write letters

      If I get into a Scottish cocktail party with a business, I commonly ask for a written letter of apology. It’s particularly important if they can affect your credit rating. You’ll have evidence.

  34. @44:
    Letters. Yeah, it’s a little more difficult to get snotty on corporate letterhead and get away with it. Maybe Alexander Graham Bell contributed unintentionally to a coarsening of personal communication by allowing people to make personal verbal insults without immediate physical consequences. And we can see where that’s led.
    I was thinking about the postal system today. Something I have to do a lot on shipping days. It’s said that around 1900 a Londoner could post a letter across town in the AM, receive a response at mid day and send another letter back in the evening. Thinking about how difficult it is to get some people on the phone I’m not sure that speed of communication has improved in 100 years.

  35. learn the minimum legal forms and pompous tone. When they get that (certified delivery/registered mail/what have you) they kick it over to legal who in turn have a vested interest in documenting every thing and making it as tortuous and expensive as possible. Even if you never get satisfaction, you can make them bleed. Adopt a stiff and unforgiving a tone as possible.

  36. Hmm, maybe it was a case of mistaken identity, i.e. they thought they were calling their friend/buddy/S&M client “Roger” rather than you (on the second call).

    Explains the “Peace bitch, it’s Roger”, i.e. “don’t worry I’m only abusing my mate roger, not a regular customer”…

  37. @ #40, Kabiondi:

    It’s the douche himself here. Rogier, that is, but OK, you can call me Roger if you really want.

    I in fact had two phone conversations with Denette at eBoost Media last week. On Wednesday, when she finally deigned to call me after I’d sent her a couple of e-mails saying I wanted a refund, she refused to say whether she would return the money, though she clearly wasn’t keen on the idea. When I insisted (and sure, I wasn’t particularly friendly at that point, but I didn’t use profanity or even raise my voice by more than a hair), she hung up on me. I then canceled the credit card I’d given eBoost media and wrote Denette by e-mail that I’d file fraud complaints with the authorities if she did not let me know within 24 hours that eBoost Media would return the money in question.

    A day later, she called again, trying to sweet-talk me into changing my mind. I said I wouldn’t, and that I had been given no reason to trust eBoost media — on the contrary. I reiterated that all I wanted was a refund. After about 20 minutes of exasperating back and forth, she got steamed, and hung up on me AGAIN.

    On Friday, I was in the office until 4 p.m. There was not a word from Denette or anyone at eBoost Media until she left the voice-mail messages you’ve heard, close to 7 p.m. that evening. The half-complaining tone in the first voice mail, where she deplores my supposed lack of phone communication, seems odd considering that she hadn’t called me even once that day — and especially INSANE considering that in the two preceding days, she’d hung up on me TWICE.

    And dem’s the facts.

  38. We are sooo not getting the whole story here. This is the power of a blog, and it can be abused.

    How are we to know that there wasn’t a call made by Roger that got left out where he called the company and said something as inflammatory as the 2nd message we hear?

    Not at all justifying somebody using homophobic slurs, but why out of the blue did they do so? Could it be it was a response to something equally angry that we don’t get to hear? Seems pretty likely, and might explain why the caller ends it as if maybe Roger’s to some degree in on the joke.

    As for whether or not it was the same woman, it sounded rather different to me, but if it was that still doesn’t tell us what went on between the two messages.

  39. I don’t know, Dead Air. Maybe you work for eBoost. Or maybe you’re an alien. Or maybe your post is part of an international conspiracy of Bhutanese eco-terrorists. Seems pretty likely that you wouldn’t make a comment like that without there being some nefarious unspoken agenda.

    Or maybe we could just try taking someone whom Mark has known for fifteen years at his word. What you’re doing is called blaming the victim. It’s your issue, not Rogier’s.

  40. I’ve been having a look at eBoost Marketing, and goodness, but I’ve found interesting stuff!

    Just for starters, it’s kind of a bad thing when you’re selling SEO, and the second and third items on Google’s front page are about your being a scammer. The most eBoost has been able to do about such mentions is to put up scads of further eBoost sites, which has resulted in the scam and fraud reports being spaced farther apart.

    There are no standalone testimonials from eBoost’s happy customers. There are, however, testimonials from supposed happy customers that have been posted as comments on sites where people are complaining about what a ripoff eBoost is. It’s not altogether unlike some of the stuff that’s turned up in this comment thread.

    (Hi, guys!)

    By the way, feel free to grab and repost any of my links to sites complaining about eBoost. Boing Boing’s software automatically inserts rel=”nofollow” into all links posted in comments (it’s an anti-spam measure), which in this case won’t do nearly enough good.

    eBoost’s basic business model appears to be:

    1. Promise prospective clients absolutely anything, on any terms.

    2. Get the client’s credit card info.

    3. Do zero, zip, zilch, nada, nothing to improve the client’s search engine results.

    4. Keep billing the client’s credit card for as long as humanly possible.

    5. Show up to post fake positive reviews of eBoost when unhappy ex-customers criticize them online.

    Some of their persistent bad habits include:

    — guaranteeing that customers wil have a prime position (front page, even) on Google’s and/or Yahoo’s organic listings within 7-10 business days;

    — guaranteeing their clients 1.5 million hits per day;

    — pretending they’re considering purchasing goods or services from companies they’re trolling for new business;

    — doing no work whatsoever on their clients’ behalf;

    — promising prospective clients that they can cancel any time, then never providing a phone number they can use to do so; and

    — continuing to bill clients’ credit cards long after they’ve communicated a strong desire to cancel their account and dispense with eBoost’s dubious services.

    Let us now contemplate those eBoost-positive comments that turn up on other people’s sites. Have I mentioned what an odd thing it is supposed commenters will go to all the trouble of posting in defense of eBoost on fraud and complaint sites, but never get around to posting praise of eBoost on their own weblogs and LJs? It’s a very odd thing. Implausible, even. Let’s have a look.

    Begin with a complaint about eBoost at ComplaintsBoard.com:

    They pulled the same scam on me as they did all of the other people who have fell victim to them. They guarantee to give you a prime position on Google’s natural or organic listings within 7-10 business days but don’t deliver. They use terms like customer service and sales department like they are a legitimate business. But rest assured that this is all a front to get you to cough up your credit card information. They will go on about how they have big clients like Nike and Coca Cola to make you think that you are dealing with a professional SEO business. I always said to myself that I would never fall victim to another scam but I did.

    I’ve worked with the victims of scams, and that sounds like the real thing. But the very first comment in response to it, from “Patrick”, says:

    This guy is a nut. I work for the company and we have helped many many people set up an SEO program that helps there business generate calls and more business. I am not sure why he feels this way but he is 100% wrong….

    It goes on in that vein. It is balderdash.

    WhoCallsMe? is a site where people post identifications and comments on phone numbers from which they get unwanted calls. User Murphymoo started a thread about phone number 951-834-9830:

    Murphymoo: Telemarketer for one of the search engine optimization companies. What was exceptionally annoying was the leading-questions type sell: “Can your company handle a little extra business?”

    Sarah: It is a company called EBoost Media mostly marked for being a scam on the internet. They are VERY persistent. Watch out!

    Jason: They called me and left a msg asking if I was taking on any more personal training clients.

    Angie: They called and spoke to me about marketing my company. I am happy to say that I signed up with them and love the exposure I am getting. Everything they say that they do has been true. I am so happy with my service. They are VERY professional and courteous. Thank you eBoost!!!

    Charles: I thought at first that this was another one of those calls. Normally I would have hung up but I know that my brother-in-law uses a service like this so I listened to what the guy had to say. I had to talk it over with my wife and needless to say we signed. They say it takes two weeks but surprisingly I was up in a little over a week and I am on the top portion of Google.

    Do you find yourself doubting the veracity of “Angie” and “Charles”? I do.

    (800Notes is much the same, only without the lively community.)

    Ripoff Report is a big anti-fraud site that’s been in business for years. Report #34085, from user Klowe of Roswell, Georgia, is titled EBoost Media SCAM!!! TAKE YOUR MONEY AND RUN!!! EBOOST MEDIA IS FRAUD!!:

    EBOOST MEDIA company contacted me to place my company on the front pages search engines Yahoo and Google. … They stated money back guaranteed. After the manager got on the phone and convinced that the program worked and I would be number one, he gave me the customer service number and told me I can cancel anytime. I went with the order.

    After ten days I called back and could not find my name anywhere to be found. The number I called was a number to customer service but to their competitors customer service number. I was outraged! After finding their website I contacted the EBoost media and am still battling with the FRAUD COMPANY STILL!!! My Bank is handeling it for me.


    I’m unwillingly impressed. Giving your customers your competition’s customer service number is a new one in my experience. This time around the complaint got three implausible letters defending eBoost, plus one real one:

    * Regarding eBoost Media Reece Williams
    * eBoost Media is NOT a scam! Reece Williams

    If you have a look at the site, the second one is supposed to be from “Reece”, a satisfied customer, and the third is from “Teresa”, an employee of eBoost’s I’ve seen mentioned elsewhere. Unfortunately, they screwed up and posted both the second and third comments from the same account, which spoils the effect.

    A follow-up report, #341562, came in from user Csauter of Northwest Roof Management, Auburn, WA. He confirms Klowe’s assessment. Report #354411 from user Evans in California is titled EBOOST MEDIA CHARGED OUR CREDIT CARD 3 TIMES WHEN WE HAD CANCELLED SERVICES, which pretty much sums it up.

    eBoostMediaBigScam.com is a little one-page one-post weblog about a client’s experiences with eBoost.

    Here’s something useful: Contractor Talk, a pleasant forum that puts me in mind of the Absolute Write message board. A member named Heritage started a thread called Is this a scam? Opinions and info plz. It only runs two pages, but they dig up a lot of information about eBoost. Highly recommended. Fun to read.

    Kabiondi and others: Let us all be kind and polite, and deal civilly with one another, and I trust there’ll be no further trouble. Also: Dead Air, please stop multiplying entities unnecessarily.

  41. LYDIS@9, CWCLIFFORD@17, MDHATTER starting@31 you are all spot on.

    To this musician’s ear, it is the same person, attempting some acting in both messages. It is even more likely given that Denette is the one who had a phone relationship with Roger, and had obviously built up a lot of steam over it. Something any level of professionalism would normally inhibit, no matter the circumstances. She is young, true. I would be surprised if she were out of her teens. Companies like this rely on the young people they can scam into doing their dirtywork. Like American Idol: Restrict the age. What experienced pro would sign up for that? Definitely intoxicated, possibly in both messages, certainly more so in #2. That they admitted the 2nd call was from them seals it. The “CEO” was probably right next to her during call # 2, which may have been on speaker instead of the headset that was definitely used in #1.

    I have yet to see a “placement company” that is not a scam. All you need is a good set of keywords in your meta-tag on your index to be found by the google-bots. Pay no one. If you are placing pay-per-click ads, especially on the content network, then companies like this sell you traffic that their click-farms and bots (almost exclusively) deliver.

    ARIKOL@28 & CHEF@53: Digital Performer can do all that.

    ANTINOUS: Stay on ’em. Rock on.

  42. I recommend writing a rebuttal and contacting ripoff report to point this out before one of the “Reece’s” amends her bogus report. I used the contact address from on the ripoff website to ask them to point out that even the rebuttals from this company are deceptive!

  43. DEAD AIR:

    As to “what went on between the two messages,” the answer is simple: nothing. For starters, I wasn’t there when they came in (was having drinks with clients an hour away) and couldn’t have responded if I’d wanted to.

    For another, listen to the time stamps. The first call was made at 6:54 p.m. and the message lasts until 6:55. Four minutes later the second call (“fucko,” queer,” “faggot,” “bitch”) was recorded. Even if you are hellbent on assuming that I simply MUST have done something in the meantime to deserve eBoost Media’s vile invective, the fact is that I would have had an almost impossibly short period to perform such a dastardly deed.

    You posit a creative possibility (ask Michael Luvano for a raise, such loyalty should be rewarded!), but you must admit that your scenario is roughly as likely as a chaste whore, a tasty light beer, or Barry Bonds being appointed baseball commissioner this fall.


  44. Rogier,

    Without sophisticated voice analysis,

    ABSOLUTELY the same person. Denette and Denette. Although I suppose it’s possible that Denette’s career is being sabotaged by her evil alter-ego SuperIdenticalTwin, Dinette (she hides under furniture and emerges to make her sister’s life hell…).

    – Stu

  45. Jumping the gun and not reading the thread – sounds like the same woman, slightly loaded in the second call.

    The fact that it was a Friday afternoon / evening, I’d say that is more than likely the full explanation as to the ‘motivation’ second message.

  46. That is definitely the same woman. I’ve done customer phone service, and I can tell you that when the hour is late and you’re real frustrated that day, and tension is high… sometimes you let your immaturity out and blow off steam by “faking a phone call” for the comic relief of your coworkers. Usually you do it when you realize the person you’re calling has let it ring for a long time without the call going to voicemail. The smarter move is to be stealthy and disconnect the call but keep the receiver up to your ear, so a coworker passing by will really think you’re on the phone cursing out a customer. Then, you hang up and everyone has a laugh.

  47. …You know, out of all the responses, there’s one comment that several people have made that bugs me a bit. While eBoost(*) is obviously a scam setup, the comments that say that there are a few SEOs out there who are *not* scams fail to state just which ones are legit and produce results. To date, I’ve seen AbZero evidence of one single company that’s been able to crack Google’s algorithms for determining page ranking. The absolute only way I could see this being done is to use a “brute force” method – 2-3 systems set up with bots and IP address spoofers, both designed to hit more than just the main page so as to imitate a real user surfing that site and looking for specific information, and even downloading a file or two if applicable. To deliver those 1.5 million hits a month, tho, would also require whoever owned the site to most likely cough up quite a bit of $$$ in bandwidth charges alone, and depending on what ISP they’re using could quite probably offset any additonal income gained from a higher page ranking. Having run one site – The Columbia Loss FAQ – that recieved several million hits in a very short period of time, I’d have had to sell myself on the street in order to pay off the unexpected overage charges had my ISP not realized the importance of the site and waived every single cent of it in memory of the Columbia and her crew.

    …So, to be blunt, let’s put up or shut up on this one piece of “political correctness”, kids. If there *are* SEOs that aren’t scammers, and actually produce results that can be verified with incontrovertible proof, then let’s see some links. I’m sure someone here at Boing Boing would love to jump at the chance to put a claim to such under the microscope.

    Important Side Note To Our Teresa: Damn, damn, DAMN *good* piece of research work on the eBoost scam! Worthy of praise, and ranks right up there with some of my own link archeological digs regarding certain aspects of Space History through the post-9/11 restructuring of NASA’s various websites that buried and/or almost erased a significant portion of their online histories. However, I think in all fairness to eBoost, just to maintain a balance to Boing Boing‘s collective karma, you should at least post a disemvowelled version.

    (*) Let us not forget that the term “boost” also is slang for jacking up a car, letting it down on cinder blocks, and stealing the expensive hubs and tires off of it. The irony here should not be ignored.

  48. Sounds like the same woman to me, but that is by no means definitive.

    It could be she knew she was going to be fired for some other reason and decided to take it out on some customers before they delivered her the bad news, revenge-motivated industrial sabotage on a small scale.

  49. Anti,

    Comparing this outfit to the phone sex industry is jut not right. Because if granny can work that script, she’s delivered the goods. It isn’t fair to compare the hardworking phone sex employees to these optimization scammers.

  50. sigh, I remember the good old days of bills in the snail mail for “Industry Directory listings” from scammers living off the unwary.

  51. My name is Kolby and I currently a college Digital Marketing Intern at eBoost CONSULTING (not Media) also located in Southern California (San Diego).

    We have been getting a lot of calls about our “association” with eBoost Media, which I can proudly say is NONE. We do not condone this kind of inappropriate customer service and blatant disregard for professionalism. This is no way to treat loyal customers and we at eBoost Consulting know that our customer base is the thing that keeps us going.

    We have also addressed this issue and have presented Rogier van Bakel with an offer to counter the less than desirable result presented to him by this previous digital marketing firm.

    I would like to reiterate that us at eBoost Consulting is in NO WAY RELATED OR ASSOCIATED with eBoost Media.

    If you have had any negative encounters with eBoost Media I encourage you to contact one of us at eBoost Consulting to see if we can right the wrong committed by our unfortunately named competitor.


  52. Well…I think it sounds like the same damned person.
    But aside from my personal opinion on the matter…let’s say that it’s a different person, just for a second. A different person at the same company.
    Who the hell WAS the person that said it, and why are THEY not apologizing/getting fired?

    Why hasn’t this not been sacrificed to the great Customer Service Gods?

    If I were to say something like that at any single one of the places I’ve worked, well, I’d be an asshole. Also, I would have been Fired. Fired, Fired, Fired.

    Also, it’s totally the same person.

  53. It doesn’t sound like the same woman to me, but the part at the end would suggest that her behavior was known and condoned.

  54. From a call center manager:

    The second message doesn’t sound like the same woman… It could easily be someone from the same office. It’s not clear cut whether the CEO is lying or not, but he’s not handling this issue properly at all anyway. Regardless of who it was, it was inappropriate.

    Roger should be also aware that it doesn’t matter who called him and left that message anyway, unless he has a grudge against that particular agent, which would explain how things got personal so fast.

    Customer service reps take a lot of heat from angry customers, and it gets especially bad when there are severe problems with the company’s product or service and customer service is powerless to fix. (They are usually bottom of the pecking order.) In most places, management does not provide the CSRs with the tools they need to satisfy their customers. So what do customers do? Obviously, they deserve to be treated right, so they try to force the rep to do what they ask. They are told no. So then they push against the rep, hoping they can force escalation to “someone” who can give them what they want. It’s the CSRs job to keep the call within the call center. The customer demands to talk to the owner or president or your boss or your boss’ boss. It gets personal the more frustrated the customer gets. You see, if the customer can force you to abandon your friendly demeanor, then it validates everything that customer has said against your company.

    But being customer service means being able to deal with a problem like this. And if that department can’t handle something like this, it could indicate a critical management problem. (Or just a single employee with a temper or a case of burn-out.)

    So what I’m saying is that it could very easily be another employee who called Roger. After a CSR hangs up with a particularly awful customer, I guarantee that the entire office is going to hear about what a jerk he was. The CSR will give a play by play of what happened and they’ll all shame, shame on Roger for being so mean. Seriously, they do it as a sort of defensive mechanism. Otherwise, they would go crazy and internalize all the stress and anger directed against them.

    Sometimes it gets so bad, you really do just want to call the person back and tell them what for. I know I’ve been tempted. (But then again, I’ve had cancer wished on my grandmother and I’ve received death threats. That’s its own special category, however.) I don’t know whether Roger deserved that call back or not. I would have to hear the whole conversation to know. :P

    I do know that if I ever did call someone up and chew them out, I would expect to immediately lose my job. I would make sure it was worth it. I’ve let members of my team go for much less than that. It’s just not appropriate in a serious customer service environment. No matter how bad it gets.

    And even if I let a customer service agent go over something like that, I would never provide details to the customer beyond the fact that she had been dealt with. That’s just not something that needs to be reported to the customer.

  55. “My name is Kolby and I currently a college Digital Marketing Intern…”

    …Yes, I sure you a college intern. It clear is from your grammar lack. As for whether or not you work for eBoost…that’s mox nix. They’re scammers, and scammers deserve all the exposing we can give them.

  56. After reading this thread for the past couple of days, the only conclusion I can safely make is to not have anything to do with any entity that has “eboost” in its name.

    It sounds like some kind of enema anyway.

  57. MDHatter, Phikus, OM, Takuan: Thank you! Since we had what looked like shills in this thread, I wondered whether eBoost might have done the same thing on other sites where they were criticized. It was great fun to discover that they’ve made a habit of it. OM, what chunk of NASA history did you disinter?

    Takuan (65, 68): TNHs are lightweight Czechoslovakian tanks that saw a lot of action in the 30s and 40s. I’m not quite that old, but I do remember bills for fake industrial directory listings and unspecified lots of paper. The first 409 scam I ever saw was hardcopy.

    Pook13, thanks for the call center manager’s view of it.

    Henderson @71, why should we believe someone who works at eBoost Media?

    Kolby Goodman, I just have a few questions:

    1. It’s easily demonstrated that eBoost Consulting was previously eBoost Marketing. I don’t think anyone’s trying to hide it. Thing is, the guy who posted on 800Notes.com identified the firm that phoned him as eBoost Marketing; but when he was talking about doing a reverse lookup on his caller, he said the number belonged to eBoost Media. Was he just confused?

    2. Your company just went through a rebranding in which you changed your name from eBoost Marketing to eBoost Consulting. Given that you’re in much the same business as the notorious eBoost Media and its associated firms, eBoost Sales and eBoost Media Nevada, why did you keep the name eBoost when you rebranded?

    3. How is it that the State of California allowed your company to register the name “Eboost” when it’s already being used by a health drink company, a turbo/nitrous car site, and eBoost Media — the last of which is a currently active business that’s in the same line of work as your company, has been in business longer than you, and has offices only sixty miles from your own?

    4. What does a legitimate SEO firm do for its clients?

    Looking forward to hearing from you —

  58. I would say that ‘legitimate SEO firm’ is a contradiction in terms.

    They’re either scamming their supposed customers, or, if they do what they say they do, they’re scamming the rest of us who depend on our search engines to give us relevant sites. Either of these precludes the use of the term ‘legitimate’ in my book.

    1. I think that you could have a legitimate SEO firm. Most people are completely clueless and could use a little help understanding concepts like keywords, meta-tags and pay-per-click. A real marketing expert could probably identify search trends and use the information to boost ratings. But it would be more appropriate to pay a couple hundred bucks for a consultation that a couple thousand for the blue plate special.

  59. Sure you get legitimate SEO firms, like most industries though there and good and bad operators. The web is more susceptible to scammers though as anyone can call themselves an SEO. Lawyers, architects or doctors all need approved qualifications and training to operate. However this problem applies to most internet industries, from web designers to usability consultant.

    When looking for an SEO firm though you should be wary of ones offering results that are too good to be true. If it was that easy to get no.1 positions they wouldn’t need client work. Also think about what your company or site is really after. Is it top positions in the search engines or sales?

    Usually, when you think it through the positions don’t really matter. It’s the sales or customer leads that you are *really* after, so assess the SEO firm on those results. Any decent SEO firm should be willing to work with you on your goals and give you monthly updates (read and act on these!). You should expect communication from them on a *regular* basis.

  60. >4. What does a legitimate SEO firm do for its clients?

    If I may answer this one Teresa?

    A good SEO firm would look at the structure of your website to ensure Google and the other SEs can index it properly. They will carry out extensive keyword research, trying to connect your content with the searches that people are carrying out. That will probably involve optimising your existing content (changing titles, copy etc.) or writing new copy.

    They will also help with off-page factors, such as helping you build links and visibility across the internet.

    SEOs can also help you organise and run paid campaigns, such as Google Adwords. Although we would usually refer to these people as ‘SEMs’ (search engine marketers – a wider term for someone who carries out all online marketing activities).

    Google has recently updated their webmaster guidelines on the topic of SEOs. It’s well worth reading before you think of contacting an SEO.

    BTW – good detective work :)

  61. Six days after being assured by acting CEO Michael Luvano that the refund would be sent THAT SAME DAY, (Tuesday July 22), it has not arrived. Neither has the personal apology from CEO Kevin Johnson that I was also told would be forthcoming.

    I’ll be filing fraud charges with the Murietta (CA) police tomorrow.

    1. Good luck on the fraud charge thing. This may be the point where you discover that the police don’t exactly have a functioning fraud division. “I’m sorry sir, our fraud division is on personal leave. Maybe you could just file a civil suit?”

  62. Really good questions Teresa Nielsen Hayden

    1) User must have been confused
    2) The owner built eBoost to be a champion brand, not just as a marketing company. We as a company would like to be able to extend the “eBoost” name to other services or products, should we choose to do so.
    3) I really do not know. That might be a question better suited for the State of California. :-)
    4) NickWilsdon did a very accurate job of describing how we help our clients.


  63. @#64, Om

    There certainly are legitimate SEO companies. They perform the standard SEO stuff that’s been described by others in this thread – making sure your meta tags are set correctly, tweaking titles, ensuring that your content contains the keywords that you think people wanting your website will search for, etc.

    And, as others have said, it’s nothing that a competent webmaster can’t do themselves. However, you don’t always want your webmaster spending their time on stuff like that. My company signed up with an SEO company before I came on board as webmaster, so I didn’t even have a chance to do it myself. Our SEO does a few other things that I wouldn’t have done, though, such as list us in industry-relevant directories. I know we get a decent number of hits from these directories (according to our tracker), so that’s something useful.

    I’m not sure how I feel about linking to them (seems sort of shillish), so I’ll just call them out by name. We use epromotionz.com. A note, though: don’t ever use their website design services. They put out a decent-looking site to the user, but under the hood it’s HORRIBLE. OMG, it’s so bad. It’s like it was written by a team of monkeys from 1995.

  64. #27, while the prospect of juicy settlement would be AWESOME the plaintiff would have to prove that he was damaged in some way. If a refund was given, it would be difficult that monetary damages were done from name calling alone since it the plaintiff that made the harsh remarks public. However, one *could* make an argument like this…

    “I paid for this SEO and then I also printed up many fliers and took out ads in papers directing visitors to my site for a promotion that I ran for the first month anticipating many visitors. When none came, the money was wasted.”

    And even then, it’d be hard to prove.


  65. Teresa,

    Great detective work. I’ve noticed over at Ripoff report someone pointed out the Reece/Teresa gaffe. The response is hilarious. “Did it ever occur to you that my client/good friend and I responded from my computer at the same time?”

    Apparently the space/time continuum works differently at eBoost, based on the five day lapse from one post to the next. These are not the brightest crayons in the box, are they?

    Oh, and their phone system is still down since this story broke, for the alleged “upgrade” that was to end last weekend.

  66. I had to post their entire response. The absurdity and audacity blinded me to the illiteracy the first time.

    From Ripoff report:

    First of all, ANYONE is welcome to visit our office. Second, Jon, did it ever accure to you that Reece is my good friend/customer and we BOTH rebuttled at the same time from my computer on my account. I think people just like to get caught up in something they are not 100% sure of, eBoostMedia is not a scam, we are not located up in the mountains in a trailor somewhere that we can take peoples money and run. Our company is very large. We put people through a 3rd party verifcation that is recorded, the customer has the right to agree with the terms or disagree during the 3rd party verification. I take this personal because I would not work for a company that does anything unethical. I am a Christian woman and take pride in what I do and where I work. We help people prosper in their business, we have many clients that are very happy and satisfied.

    I wonder how many of you have got complaints in the business you do…I am sure everyone has.

    We never stated that we are a perfect company, I have yet to find one in any indusrty.


  67. I was called by one of their reps today who obviously had not researched my business and status in the the search engines. I told him I was not interested and to remove me from their call list.

    Eboost Media Rep’s response: Don’t get lippy with it. (Hangs up) Not sure you should have wanna be thugs making sales calls about seo services.

    http://www.lttr.cm – We are listed in the top 10 for all of our desired keyword terms. He claimed I was on page 2 and about to be on page 3.

  68. The stuff at ripoff report keeps coming. 9 reports in general, and when the guy called them out on the lie above, the response is just more pure comedy!

    I’m starting to think Reece/Teresa may be the caller!

    Your obsession with when my friend and I posted our rebuttal is a joke. Your opinion at this point doesn’t mean anything. I find your comments to be comical.
    Feel free to bash eboostmedia as much as you like, we know the truth, and it is obvious you really don’t have much of anything going on in your life. Oh, and the recorded phone message, I am sure the customer had put someone up to that recording as a set up. I would love to see what phone number showed up on his caller id when the call was made. Talk about lies……

  69. leopardprint – try using italics or blockquote tags – it’s hard to tell where you tail off and the quote you are presenting begins.

  70. I do sound for a living. I assign colors to voices and musical instruments individual colors involuntarily. It is a condition called synthesnia. That IS the SAME WOMAN.

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