Marketing ideas for the shoestring bourgeoisie.

Banned by Fiverr for Exposing Fiverr Scams

marketing ideas banned by fiverr

I’m continuing some consumer protection work covering Fiverr scams and the manner by which the popular Internet company continues to defend and support these scams. The initial portion of this post began as a response to a rather long thread in the WarriorForum and I’ve gone on to expound from there.

Post response by Chris Kent on July 1, 2011 to “Ban by Fiverr? Here the reason” [sic]:

“Fiverr will ban you if they might lose out of it. On the other hand, they hardly ever ban scammer providers.

“I have twice gotten a refund out of scammers with the help of their helpdesk.

“For example, the first was someone who posts your link on his wall which is a fake “chick’s wall”. He adds several thousand in Photoshop to his list of 72 friends.

“When you get your refund, your negative rating disappears. Fiverr know they have scammers and refuse to ban them. They just want to keep people getting scammed so they make more money.” (Kent, 2011.)

marketing ideas, fiverr scams, scams online, banned by fiverr

marketing ideas fiverr scamSo true!! Here’s a firsthand account (complete with screen captures) about the first Fiverr scam I became aware of. (How NOT to Drive Traffic Using Fiverr | Marketing Ideas 101) This scam was for increased traffic to my website for a month, but the seller was supplying junk traffic. I called the gig off early and Fiverr gave the scam artist the out and removed my negative rating and removed my warning to future shoppers.

A couple weeks later, I ran across another scam involving Craigslist ad postings. This particular gig seller couldn’t produce any ads that weren’t ghosted (in Craigslist vernacular, a ghosted ad appears to be live, however it does not show up in the index pages nor through search.) Apparently, the seller’s previous buyers were blissfully unaware the ads the seller was providing were relatively useless.

As of today, I have officially been banned by Fiverr for the first time after buying $830 in $5 gigs from them over the past year.

My offense? I asked a content writer to work up a blog post about Fiverr scams. No kidding. The gig owner wrote this shortly before my account was restricted:

“Hi there Matt! I’m very sorry but I have to pass this time. I don’t feel confident or competent enough with your particular topic or requirements. Requesting for the cancellation of the order and the funds will be refunded back to you. Thanks for understanding!”

When I went to decline the cancellation request and give her a different topic she might better be suited for, I found my account was unable to complete the action.

marketing ideas fiverr restricted account

The error message said my account had been restricted and that I could forward any questions to Fiverr support.

Here’s how that correspondence went:

Matt, Nov 29 17:21 (IST): Folks, I have a gig seller that is trying to cancel an order because she does not feel qualified to write on the topic (scams on Fiverr). That’s fine, but I want to keep the gig and simply give her a different topic. The system is not allowing me. Any thoughts?

Julia – Fiverr’s Customer Support Team (Fiverr Customer Support), Nov 30 04:01 (IST): Hi Matt, we are unable to reinstate your account at this time. Users who violate our Terms of Service and get their account permanently restricted will be able to complete any active orders they may have; and will continue to have access to their completed orders. The funds in your shopping balance have been returned to your PayPal account.

Regards,
Julia

To which I responded:

???
How did I violate the Terms of Service???

I still haven’t heard back. The only opening for an infraction I can find in Fiverr’s Terms of Service (which is heavily slanted toward controlling the gig seller) is the following clause:

“Posting or sending adult, illegal, rude, abusive, improper, copyright protected, promotional, spam, violent, nonsense or any uncool stuff is strictly prohibited. Doing so will get your account blocked permanently.” (Fiverr, 2012.)

So, was I “improper”, asking for “nonsense” or just being “uncool”? It’s hard to say. With terms as vague as these, Fiverr can do whatever they want, really.

Just slimy. Surprisingly slimy for an Internet company I assumed was based in the U.S. Wait! They’re not based in the U.S. at all!

“Fiverr, stylized as fiverr, is an Israel-based global online marketplace offering tasks and services starting at $5. […] The website was founded by Israeli internet entrepreneurs Micha Kaufman and Shai Wininger. […] Entrepreneurs and freelancers can use Fiverr to monetize sell their services. Customers in need of services can find and commission that service directly through the site. Currently, Fiverr lists more than 1,000,000 services on the site that range between $5 and $150.” (Wikipedia, 2012.)

I assert that Fiverr is well aware of their shady business practices and they work daily to protect the con job empire they are creating for themselves. They are really a great study on how easily we trust a well-established name and how easily that trust can be grossly abused. Here is a definition for racketeering, which is essentially what I believe Fiverr is engaged in:

“A racket is an illegal business or scheme, usually run as part of organized crime. Engaging in a racket is called racketeering.” (Wikipedia, 2012.)

Oh, and of course there’s fraud:

“Fraud can be committed through many media, including mail, wire, phone, and the Internet (computer crime and Internet fraud). International dimensions of the web and ease with which users can hide their location, the difficulty of checking identity and legitimacy online…” (Wikipedia, 2012.)

Caveat emptor, folks. “Let the buyer beware.”

In support of your efforts,

Matt

P.S. – Here’s a conspiracy theory for you: Consider for a moment Fiverr isn’t just overrun with scam artists, but that it actively and consciously houses a network of them. Just a thought. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

 marketing ideas, fiverr scams, scams online, banned by fiverr

References

Fiverr. Terms of Service. Retrieved from http://fiverr.com/terms_of_service on 11/29/2012.

Kent, Chris. July 1, 2011. Ban by Fiverr? Here the reason. WarriorForum. Retrieved from http://www.warriorforum.com/main-internet-marketing-discussion-forum/406608-ban-fiverr-here-reason.html on 11/29/2012.

Wikipedia.org. Fiverr. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiverr on 11/29/2012.

Wikipedia.org. Fraud. Retrieved from  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fraud on 11/29/2012.

Wikipedia.org. Racketeering. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racketeering on 11/29/2012.

How NOT to Drive Traffic Using Fiverr

marketing ideas driving traffic fiverr

(Subtitled: Beware the $5 Traffic Gurus)

I thought I was being smart. I thought I could pay someone five bucks and they would work their magic and funnel all sorts of traffic to my new blog. Of course, I was experimenting, but I had no idea what kind of a fail to expect, so—naively—I hoped for success.

I went to Fiverr.com and dove into ‘Online Marketing,’ then into the ‘Get Traffic’ category. I sorted by rank and found a promising ad. Here’s what it said:

[Name removed to protect the guilty] will drive UNLIMITED
genuine real traffic to your website for one month for $5.

Sounds good, right?

And the job profile comes with lots of rave reviews. I shrugged and hopefully gambled away my $5. The profile asked me the right questions. What’s the URL, what areas do you want to target, etc. Since the job promised to be delivered within three days, I spent three days haunting my Google Analytics reports, eagerly anticipating the hints of a traffic tsunami.

Then it happened! Traffic went from zero (this was a brand new site) to 60 hits and then climbed to 70 hits! Yes! $5 well spent, right!?

Wrong!

Upon further inspection, it appears all the traffic is of the BOUNCING variety (read Should You Worry About Your Bounce Rate? for a better understanding on why high bounce rates are undesirable.) Eyeball the web traffic report below and see if you see what I see:

drive traffic with fiverr

More, if you’ll notice the referrer URL’s, I’m sure you’ll see a trend. Visiting some of these sites will clue you in further to the junk traffic they bring.

Well, there’s an experiment in traffic generation that gives some important feedback. While I might not have benefited from massive volumes of quality traffic, five dollars is cheap tuition. I feel wiser already!

In support of your efforts,

Matt

marketing ideas leadership

Update! (November 2, 2012)

Well, folks.. after writing this post, I opted to go back to the Fiverr vendor and ask them to discontinue the gig, which was supposed to last for a month. I gave them a “thumb’s down”. Here is our discussion:

Me: please discontinue this program. the traffic is junk.

Guilty: Hi, Can I know what happened? And why did you leave a negative feedback without asking information? The traffic is direct to ensure an high level of security with adsense and affiliations, and the bounce rate is related to that because it’s direct. All information are in the document and it’s described, please remove your feedback, and let me know if you are interested in a refund instead.

Me: See attached. Of course you should be expecting negative feedback. There is no value in the traffic you are providing. fiverr-traffic-generation.gif (36.175 KB)

Guilty: My traffic is direct only, and I know the bounce rate is high because it’s a consequence of setting the traffic this way. Some people are converting as they reported me and wrote in the feedback, so it’s valuable for someone, I’m truly sorry it isn’t working for you. As I said, I will refund your order, if you agree to remove the feedback. Please help me maintain a good service, I always do my best to provide that but I know sometimes can’t give the expected results.

Me: Will remove the feedback as soon as we see our sites (both of them) removed from these spammy sites. If we look at our Google Analytics tomorrow and we can see all this bouncing traffic has fallen away, we will remove the comment.

Guilty: I will suspend your campaign immediately, you will notice the removal from a few minutes. I’m sorry for the inconvenience.

Guilty: I suspended them as agreed, if you will check the tracking url you won’t see any more visits from me.

Guilty: Hi, Please check the tracking url and you will see the campaign is no longer active, I’m waiting for you.

Me: Go ahead and refund these orders. Thanks.

Guilty: No problem, but you should remove the feedback before I ask the refund or you won’t be able to modify it anymore… Write me as soon as it’s done and I will send the refund, thank you.

I allowed them to sweat a little until the next day. I was still debating taking the review down–after all, wouldn’t the honest feedback protect others from making my same mistake? However, it seems the decision was made for me! I received the following email from Fiverr:

Your order #FO_____________ was cancelled by Fiverr’s customer service team.

Your funds have been returned to your Fiverr Balance and will be used automatically for your next purchase.

Thanks,
The Fiverr Team

So I guess the vendor didn’t want to wait. However, much to my surprise, Fiverr actually removed my feedback from the vendor’s ratings completely! See below. Notice two things:

  1. My negative feedback has been removed, as well as my comments!
  2. Another person has gotten an inkling that the traffic they are receiving isn’t doing them any good; though they are much less confident about what they should be seeing, they suspect there’s something wrong.

drive traffic fiverr

Now, it’s somewhat disheartening to recognize most of these folks see the spike in traffic like I did, however they aren’t looking at their bounce rates or the referring URL’s, so they aren’t realizing they’re being duped.

I liken this to ordering the steak dinner at a restaurant, being served a rice cake, and commenting how full you are now that you’ve eaten so well.

And what about Fiverr in all this? They didn’t reach out to me at all. They just deleted the truth and will let this person continue their deceptive practices. Yikes!

Ah, buy why the heck should they do anything? Fiverr gets paid on every sale, don’t they?

Buyer beware, folks.

In support of your efforts,

Matt

P.S. – The vendor said, “My traffic is direct only, and I know the bounce rate is high because it’s a consequence of setting the traffic this way.” That’s junk, people. Traffic being direct versus referred has no bearing on the quality of the traffic; it’s merely an indication of how people are getting to your site. If there were even people behind those hits. It’s quite possible that traffic is from bots.