Improving your site's SEO with each angry customer

David Segal has a fascinating and infuriating profile of an online retailer who says he deliberately antagonizes customers because their angry online reviews are part of his search engine optimization strategy. Welcome to the Troll School of Retail, making more money with each disgruntled consumer...


  1. The most amazing part IMO was his pretexting away a chargeback on an obviously fraudulent transaction and the bank playing along with it. Imagine your own bank helping the guy who scammed you!

    1. I was also annoyed that NY Times gave the retailer’s site a link in their article, only making the problem worse! Talk about complicit…

    2. I can imagine it very easily since they recently re-opened an account and charged $70 for a lack of funds in what had been a closed account.

      Seriously. It makes one want to just use a can in the backyard.

  2. Well, this method of doing business *does* point out some serious flaws in Google (and perhaps other) search algorithms. And it is important that credit card companies and e-retailers confront weaknesses in their policies that can be exploited.

    Nonetheless… the guy profiled in the article is a sick, sick individual.

  3. Also annoyed they posted the link to the website (making things worse)…. and mentioning his company name 32 times– yes thirty freakin’ two times!

  4. Guess from now on before I want to purchase something from a website I’ve never used before, I will definitely do a search on the specific website to see the reviews; because I normally don’t purchase from a site that has negative reviews.

  5. If the Times had decided that the company’s name was DecorM<span style=”display:none”>La la la Google can’t hear me</span>yEyes, I would have been very happy.

    Alas, no.

  6. All those consumer feedback sites should only link using rel=”nofollow”. Any link with that in there will have no google juice in it.

    1. This is exactly what I thought. Why the heck to any of these consumer complaints sites allow Google follow links?

  7. The Internet has been very accommodating to Mr. Borker. It would be a real shame if the Internet suddenly took a dislike to him, and all his threats, even if meant seriously then, were to no avail.

    1. The important thing is that no one ties up his Vitaly Borker’s toll free number: (800) 995-9373. For instance, if people associated the number (800) 995-9373 with pranks or bogus Craig’s List posts, it could have a deleterious effect on the profitability of Vitaly Borker’s business.

      And nobody wants that.

  8. For all those who are hopping mad because the times is “helping” this troll, there doesn’t appear to be anything to get upset about anymore. Do a google search for any of the terms mentioned in the article. (I tried LaFont, Designer Eyewear, etc) I’m not seeing ANY that mention the site in question. It appears that Google (and a number of the other companies involved) have fixed the problem, so mentioning Mr. Soon To Be in Jail doesn’t really matter at this point, he’s finished, the system really does (eventually) work.

    1. Yes, I went to Google immediately, and his results were seemingly purged from keywords related to eyeglasses.

      1. FWIW, I just tried the search suggested in the article, ‘Christian Audigier glasses’ (no quotes)and DecorMyEyes is about #5.

        1. Interesting. When I tried this on a different network (work versus home), it was missing. I wonder if it’s different Google search caches.

          1. ‘Christian Audigier glasses’ search still yields at about #5, plus a bonus: decormyeyes as a sponsored link right at the top. Looks like Mr. Borker’s plan is unfolding perfectly.

    1. Just wondering…sort of. Not that this is really the purpose of BB but why is it that every time some scum fuck internet jackhole is featured here does it fall to 4chan to come to the rescue. I have seen several times the Boing effect on sites of coolness. Why don’t we boingers do exactly what we wish 4chan would do. In other words bork this dipsticks servers with bogus requests and generally cause him some trouble? Just wondering. Now, I’m off to get my fix of messing with asshats for the day.

  9. But where are the cops? The man’s a criminal. Why isn’t there any place to report these crimes that will act quickly?

  10. I noticed a few things about this article.

    1) Did you notice the massive failure of the various systems put into place to protect the customer from fraud? It was great that the NYTimes still could be used in the only fashion way to “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted”.

    2) The psychological impact of bullies on adults. I’d like to thank Maggie for the story right above this that puts a dab of science behind my belief that we need more effective methods to deal with all forms of bullies, including corporate bullies.

    3) The personality of this guy matches so of the right wing talkers I’ve observed. Fueled by anger, and profiting off of it.

    1. 3) The personality of this guy matches so of the right wing talkers I’ve observed. Fueled by anger, and profiting off of it.

      Actually, his personality is a kind I hope few people have to deal with. And that is ex-Soviet con-artist American immigrant.

      I grew up around Sheepshead Bay and I was a kid when the first wave of immigrants came in. And immediately—even at 11-years old—something did not smell right. The neighborhood was filled with immigrants fleeing this/that/other of Eastern Europe. And that was a good. But a subset was clearly “up to something.” The first signs I noticed were recent immigrants in fur coats paying for food with food stamps and driving around in cars they shouldn’t be able to afford. Old store shops would close up and be replaced with boutiques filled with garish B.S. that nobody would by. And nobody did; they were all fronts. And all these restaurants would open up that would catch fire all the time.

      I don’t know this guys specifics past the article, but he’s clearly someone who comes from (or still works with) the Russian crime circles in this neighborhood. And if you read the detailed logic he presents to “hacking” the search system on Google, you have a glimpse at the mentality that the Russian crime rings use. They bully and traffic like all rings. BUT—and this is the big BUT—they are experts at paperwork. I mean they lived in the bureaucratic mess known as the former-USSR, right? Anyway, these guys are the absolute evil masters of paperwork and bureaucratic fraud.

      So none of this shocks me.

      What does shock me—and makes me question this article—is how anyone making so many physical threats against someone could ever be ignored by the cops. Even in NYC I knew people who had harassing phone calls in the days before caller-id and they managed to get the cops to do something. This guy is explicitly doing all she claimed and they still didn’t do anything? That doesn’t add up in my mind.

      Maybe there is a far bigger case here and the NYPD is building it against him and others.

      Oh and for those who care, the other big news from my former childhood home was a Russian scheme to defraud Holocaust survivor funds:

      You really can’t get scummier, can you?

  11. This… this isn’t even trolling. This is outright criminality.

    Why is this man still free? I thought law and order were the mainstays of developed nations.

  12. Man. I see a pretty depressing end for this sick bastard. I’m not talking about any harm coming to him. I just think he’ll be entirely penniless and heavily in debt by the close of business in 2011. He seems to have this illusion that he’s bulletproof, but in reading that article, it’s clear things are unraveling for him, and this makes me happy.

    I just can’t fathom why NYPD is so reluctant to arrest this guy with what seems to be a lot of tangible and genuine evidence against him and his business.

  13. Ah, where’s Tony Soprano when you need him.

    I guess a reporter saying he’s from the New York Times asking those big companies why they’re helping the guy do business is what’s needed. If I were Ms. Rodriguez though, I’d be extra scared at the moment, since Mr. Psycho will probably read her name in the paper and believe she’s the one who’s started the avalanche that will crush him.

    Not that there’s any certainty he’ll be crushed at the moment, he still sounds like a big giant douche. Hire a similarly douche lawyer and he’ll be back in business, using fake/friends’ names, in no time.

  14. Agreed that the guy is a scumbag and that Google, MasterCard, etc. need to change their algorithms. Still, I’m surprised that so many people don’t do a search on the company name before placing an order. Searching on makes it blindingly clear you should steer well clear.

  15. He’s a twisted person who found ways to abuse the system, that’s sad but common, unfortunately.

    Hopefully this article will serve to teach people to actually read the reviews, as well. Seller feedback is a powerful concept in online purchasing, but requires people to put in a little effort to read it.

  16. As awful as this guy is, at least he had a logical reason for acting that way- negative reviews on the internet pushed his Google ranking higher, resulting in more business.

    In my work I have dealt with suppliers who assume that once you order something, you work for them– you will get what they want to give you, when they decide to give it to you, and if you don’t like it, tough. Heaven forbid that you have some critical component that comes from only one supplier- because then that supplier starts to think that he runs your business.

    Suppliers don’t get more business because of these attitudes- in fact they usually go under. So there’s no good reason for it, just the usual arrogance, greed, and stupidity.

    The only protection against evil suppliers is being prepared to take your business elsewhere at the drop of a hat, and making very sure the supplier knows it from day one.

  17. This reminds me of an episode of This American Life from a few weeks ago. This guy managed to make himself a mafia boss type in a New York school district maintenance office. Similar themes of threats, the guy being an all around douche, all attempts to stop the behavior to be ignored.

  18. By making this a profile of one scummy retailer, all the NY Times has done is raised this guy’s profile without putting it into any context. I mean, is Troll marketing a trend? Or is this guy the only one doing it?

  19. The article is an absolutely fascinating read. I disagree with the author when she says that it’s “essentially a niche that would be impossible without the Internet” though. The internet facilitates it, but gaming the system in this manner is among the oldest tricks in the book. You find a hole in the system, and you exploit the hell out of it. In this case, people who don’t bother to Google the name of the company they’re buying from. Due diligence, people, do the homework before you spend any money.

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