Fraud at Sponsored Reviews

Just this past Saturday morning, an advertiser accepted my bids on two reviews at Sponsored Reviews. Great news, and I got to work exploring the sites, and writing up detailed reviews. I posted the first one, and though I completed the second on, I was planning to wait until Monday to post it.

Then Saturday evening, while I was watching the De La Hoya fight, I got this fantastic little email –

From: “Ado Topuz”

ado [at] sponsoredreviews.com>

Dear Blogger, It has come to our attention that fraudulent purchases have been made through our system. You were approached by an advertiser to write a review for one of the following Domains: — 9SEM.com — Eyemiss.com — Hidrotips.com Unfortunately, these purchases were made with stolen credit cards and we have no choice but to return the money to the credit card holder and delete the order in our system. This means that we are unable to pay you for the review that you completed, and ask that you remove it from your site(s). We apologize for this inconvenience and for the time you spent writing the review. We assure you that we are taking measures to prevent this from happening in the future. This sort of fraud is rare and difficult to catch through standard fraud prevention schemes. We appreciate your understanding and your continued support. Please submit a support ticket if you have any questions

I have to admit to feeling cheated here. I fulfilled my end of the bargain, and spent quite a bit of time hammering out two detailed reviews. And I will have precisely $0 to show for it. I could have used my time on a much more productive task had I know the value of my reviews.

I’m sure this kind of scenario is in the SR TOS somewhere – I haven’t the patience to read through it. However I feel that as the middle man in the transaction, SR should step in, and pay me directly for the reviews.

I understand the issue isn’t their fault, and that it isn’t likely to happen again. But at the same time, I spent several hours writing reviews, and will not be paid. I’d be very hesitant to spend any time on another SR post – who’s to say I’ll be paid for it?

I think as a goodwill gesture that SR should bite the bullet on this one, and compensate myself and all those who accepted and wrote these reviews. If they don’t, I just see a wave of bad publicity heading their way, as publishers like myself become very hesitant to take the time to write reviews, in fear of not being paid.

12 Comments

  1. Kevin said

    May 7 2007 @ 6:49 am

    thats really unfortunate. SR should really compensate you in some way. Its their duty to screen payments for fraud and offers shouldnt be made until the card has been verified

  2. Leroy Brown said

    May 7 2007 @ 7:35 am

    Exactly – the fraud should be their problem, not mine. Part of the benefit of using SR’s services is that the burden of collecting payment is on them – not me.

    If I wanted to deal with chasing down payments and dealing with fraudulent charges, I’d hunt down reviews on my own.

  3. Jarrod (SponsoredReviews) said

    May 7 2007 @ 8:25 am

    Leroy,

    You are absolutely right. We are creating a policy to cover this in the future. This caught us by suprize and our primary focus was to insure it didn’t happen again.

    We are considering ways to cover bloggers for their time and will update everyone once we have decided on the proper course.

  4. Kevin said

    May 7 2007 @ 8:32 am

    its encouraging to see a rep drop by here and explain their side 🙂

    i definately think you need to do something to stop this happening in the future. this must be an incredibly frustrating thing to happen to a blogger

  5. Jarrod (SponsoredReviews) said

    May 7 2007 @ 8:42 am

    Kevin,

    It would be very hard for this to happen again, and if it did the bloggers time would be covered.

  6. Leroy Brown said

    May 7 2007 @ 9:02 am

    Hey Jarrod, thanks for dropping in. I’ll be looking forward to a status update.

  7. Alex Goad said

    May 7 2007 @ 12:52 pm

    Hey Leroy,

    I hope SR does step up and take responsibility in this case.

    If what they say is true and this is unlikely to happen again, one can only think doing the right thing would not cost them an unreasonable premium.

  8. Leroy Brown said

    May 7 2007 @ 3:20 pm

    If SR does the right thing by compensating the affected publishers, my respect for them and their service will go up tenfold immediately. I know they’re still working it out after the initial, somewhat ill-advised email.

  9. Jarrod (SponsoredReviews) said

    May 7 2007 @ 3:52 pm

    Leroy,

    The bloggers who had completed the review will be receiving an email and a Paypal payment shortly.

    We agree that it is our responsibility to protect bloggers from these incidents, and that we should eat the cost. In hindsight it would have been better to come to this conclusion two days ago. With that being said, two days of non-stop work has allowed us to repair the initial problem and harden our system to prevent future problems.

  10. Leroy Brown said

    May 8 2007 @ 7:50 am

    Jarrod,
    Thank you for following up with me. I did receive the email from SR, and the payment (already!). I wrote a follow-up post about my experience. Great job handling an ugly situation.

  11. Matt Huggins said

    May 9 2007 @ 6:16 pm

    Sorry to hear about the wasted efforts, Leroy. I was about to mention that SR should make sure to compensate those bloggers who put forth the effort, but I see that they have already followed up with you and are going to do so. It’s great to see such excellent customer service in an unexpected situation as this.

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