Friday, February 02, 2007

 

Who's What? Part II



You may have read an entry I posted on January 16th about a letter I'd received from the Metropolitan Who's Who, informing me that I was being considered for inclusion in the Metropolitan Who's Who "Honor's Edition." As I'm sure you'd expect, I was elated to get that piece of steaming news in the mail. I'd say that my level of joy was on the same level of Navin R. Johnson's when he said

The new phone book's here! The new phone book's here! … Page 73 - Johnson, Navin R.! I'm somebody now! Millions of people look at this book everyday! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity - your name in print - that makes people. I'm in print! Things are going to start happening to me now.


Of course, I immediately wrote about my elation here at the blog, so imagine my surprise when I got this e-mail yesterday:

Darrell,

This is now my final attempt to contact you regarding your web blog on Metropolitan Who's Who.

http://darwen.us/southcon/2007/01/whos-what.html

If you do not immediately take down all content and links regarding this blog we will proceed with legal action.

We have already contacted Covington Mill where you work in Packaging Resources. We will subpoena all the computers and their files with regards to your blogging activity. I am very certain that Covington Mill will not take this matter lightly.

Bellow see attorney letter sent on January 17 as an example of what will become part of our action against you and Covington Mill.

Regards,

Cyndi Jeffus

The information contained in this transmission is intended for the named receiver only.
The transmission may contain privileged and confidential material.
Please be advised that any use, dissemination, posting, or unauthorized copying of the materials is strictly prohibited.


Prohibited by who, I wondered. By the CIA? By H&R Block? The NFL? And why would the first e-mail I received from Ms. Jeffus also be the last? I didn't know … but I didn't have much time to ponder it, because immediately below the e-mail from Cyndi Jeffus I read the following example of a letter from an attorney:

Southern Conservative

http://darwen.us/southcon/2007/01/whos-what.html

RE: Demand to Cease and Desist and Retract Libel

Dear Darrell:

It has come to the attention of Metropolitan Who’s Who (“Metropolitan”) that you have posted statements on your website at http://darwen.us/southcon/2007/01/whos-what.html

(the “Website”) which contain false information that is defamatory to Metropolitan. You have made these statements maliciously to injure the reputation of Metropolitan in its trade and profession. This letter constitutes a demand for the immediate and complete removal of these false and libelous statements including all references to Metropolitan from your Website within 2 calendar days of receipt of this letter.

Your statements and conduct on the Website also constitute interference with prospective business and contractual relations of Metropolitan. As such, they are actionable and expose you to the imposition of compensatory as well as punitive damages.

Your failure to remove your defamatory and malicious statements and their repetition after this notice of their falsehood constitutes further publication of libel. It also confirms your malicious intent.

Please note that this letter does not constitute a complete or exhaustive statement of all of Metropolitan’s rights or claims. Metropolitan takes this matter very seriously and accordingly, we have engaged our legal counsel to investigate this matter further.

If you do not immediately and completely remove these defamatory statements and references to Metropolitan, and cease and desist from interference with Metropolitan’s business and contractual relations including, without limitation, making false and malicious comments about Metropolitan within 2 calendar days of receipt of this letter, we will direct our corporate legal counsel to seek judicial intervention to protect Metropolitan’s rights. If Metropolitan is forced to file suit to stop your wrongful conduct, it will, in addition to seeking compensatory and punitive damages, also seek an award of its attorney fees and litigation expenses.
We expect you will remove any and all reference to Metropolitan on your Website immediately to avoid the possibility of litigation and that you will confirm such removal via e-mail or in writing.

Very Truly Yours,

Metropolitan Who’s Who


Eeeek! Would this become a part of my permanent file?? As you might imagine, I was quaking in my boots.

I looked around the net frantically and saw that at least one other blogger has voiced his wry amusement at having received a form letter from this same organization, and that Cyndi Jeffus had left him a comment asking him to contact her. Of course, she did manage to get his name wrong in her comment… his name is Mark, but she called him Lisa, the name of the woman who'd signed the form letter he received.

Then I calmed down and thought about it. The first thing that caught my attention was that the example of a letter from an attorney was put together better than Cyndi's e-mail. It didn't have, for example, font faces that changed mid sentence. Could it have been from an actual attorney? It's possible.

Or could it simply be that Office 2007 now features Letter From An Attorney as one of it's templates?

I went back and re-read my post about the letter I'd received, unsolicited, from the Metropolitan Who's Who. What had I written that could possibly be libelous? I had no idea. The only person I'd really made fun of in the post was myself. You can read it here.

Then an idea hit me: Could it be that the Metropolitan Who's Who is concerned about their image? Could it be that they don't want people to find out that a peon like me, a common physical laborer, had somehow ended up on their mailing list? Might that yank the rug out from under the pretense that they are some sort of respectable networking resource for people who … oh, I dunno … don't regularly get grease in their hair while they're at work? Hmmmmmm…..

I mean, really. It's not like I wrote that the Metropolitan Who's Who is a transparent, predatory sham that feeds off the naïve insecurities of the self-employeed. I wouldn't write something like that. And it's not like I wrote something frivolous and irresponsible, such as the entire staff of the Metropolitan Who's Who is a bunch of fascist, pagan crackheads!! I'd never in a million years write something like that. After all, in the words of Pink Floyd, "I've always had a deep respect, and I mean that most sincerely!"

So after about 12 seconds of careful consideration, I wrote back to Cyndi Jeffus:

Hi, Cyndi,

Thank you for your correspondence. It made my day. I enjoyed the the variety of font faces you used, some of which changed mid-sentence . I also enjoyed the examples of "legalese" you attempted. Many of the words you used were spelled correctly. Good for you! However, I'm particularly amused by your claim that I've made "false and libelous statements" about the Metropolitan Who's Who. Please send me a list of the exact statements on my blog that concern you … I have no intentions of taking down my blog entry about the first letter I received from the Metropolitan Who's Who. Beyond that, I intend to write a blog entry about this e-mail exchange as well. If you really believe that there's anything "false and libelous" about my blog entry, please feel free to proceed with what you consider to be the proper legal course of action.

In the meantime, please allow me to correct a few errors in your recent e-mail to me.

You wrote "This is now my final attempt to contact you regarding your web blog on Metropolitan Who's Who." In fact, I do not maintain a "web blog" about "Metropolitan Who's Who." As a hobby, I keep a "web log" or "blog," where I write about movies, politics, religion, and personal experiences. One of the personal experiences I chose to write about was the letter I received from your organization. If you didn't want people to publicly mention that your organization has contacted them, you shouldn't send unsolicited mail to strangers.

You also wrote "We have already contacted Covington Mill where you work..." In fact, my employer is not called "Covington Mill." Nor is my employer relevant to my blog, my personal hobby. I do not write to my blog while I'm at work, nor do I have the resources to do so while on the job. I write and post entries to my blog at home. If, however, you really have contacted my employer about my blog, I'm certain that my employer found your concerns to be a minor and trivial annoyance.

As I said before, I intend to write a blog entry about this correspondence, and any further e-mail I receive from your agency. I've said nothing malicious or libelous about your organization, and I invite any attempts you might make to prove the contrary in a US court. I can't imagine, however, that your case will ever be heard.

You may wish to read up a bit on the reality of liability law in the US.

With the warmest regards,
Darrell Loudermilk


And that might have settled the matter after a brief mention here, but it gets better…

This woman wrote an e-mail to my wife at her college e-mail account demanding that she try to talk me into deleting my blog post about her organization! I mean, the nerve! Isn't that creepy??! It's like some sort of cyber-stalking situation. I get these images in my head of Annie Welks from Misery, sitting at her computer, pounding away on the keyboard and screaming "Take down the cockadoodie blog post!!" Wendy, for her part, was really creeped out by the e-mail.

So I wrote back again and told her not to bother us any more or I'd consider it harassment.

Then, I went to work this morning and I got a call from one of our big-wigs, the guy who I believe is in charge of security. He's a good guy, he's been helpful to me in the past, and he was friendly but a bit perplexed as he explained to me that he'd received a call from the Metropolitan Who's Who asking about me. So I explained the whole deal to him and I think it's safe to say that he found it amusing. I asked him if I needed to be worried about my job, and he told me that everything was fine. At least I think that's what he told me. He was laughing pretty damn hard by this point. Like I said, he really got a kick out of the whole debacle.

So after a little more careful consideration, I've decided to stand my ground. No, I won't take down my original blog post. There wasn't a damn thing wrong with what I wrote. Nor will I take down this blog post. And I'll tell you why:

(This next part goes over best if you quietly hum the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" to yourself as you read it, and imagine me as Otter in Animal House.)

The United States of America was founded on a number of principles… and among them was the Freedom of Speech, as described in the First Amendment of the Constitution. No, Freedom of Speech doesn't guarantee everyone the right to just say any fool thing that pops into their head. You can't, for example, run into a crowded firehouse and yell "Movie!" You can, however, publicly voice your opinion about any organization in the world. Especially if that organization has sent you an unsolicited invitation to join their ranks, and especially if you don't accuse that organization of being a fly-by-night fraudulent joke.

This freedom to express ourselves is fundamental. This is what George Jefferson had in mind when he wrote the Declaration of Incontinence. This is one of the freedoms that General Norman Schwarzkopf was defending when he fought the Japs at Little Big Horn. This is a basic element of life in the US of A, and it's as American as mock apple pie, coked up baseball players and the Toyota Corolla.

I think that the importance of the First Amendment can best be illustrated in this story about Eustace P. "Bud" Mooney, an old man I used to work with. Bud misted up as he told me this story one night during a long shift, and I remember getting a chill as I realized that he really was going to talk to me all night. I'll now pass this story on to you, dear reader, with the hopes that it'll help you appreciate the greatness of our nation.

In order to protect his anonymity, I'm not going to refer to him by his real name, which is Eustace P. "Bud" Mooney. Instead, I'll refer to him by a completely fake name I've just made up; Senator Charles "Bud" Schumer.

Anyway, it seems that Senator Bud happened to find himself one evening in the quaint little hamlet of Lewisburg, West Virginia, where he happened to be raving drunk in a parking-lot. Now, normally, Senator Bud was a quiet man, some even considered him timid. But on this particular night he'd had a fight with his wife and she'd left him in the parking-lot, and this situation was complicated by the fact that he was raving drunk and, I'm sorry to say, partially disrobed.

Well, the denizens of Lewisburg, West Virginia are charming, laid- back people, and some of them happened to pass the parking-lot that Senator Bud was in while they were out for evening walks. Many of these passers-by expressed obvious contempt for Senator Bud, some even going so far as to spit on the ground and call him a "hooligan." This upset Senator Bud, and although he's normally a bashful, retiring man, he began to use his freedom of speech to voice his displeasure with the people around them. He called several of them names and swore at them, and accused at least one of them of having had a highly inappropriate relationship with his own mother. After only a few minutes of this, the Lewisburg police showed up and arrested Senator Bud, taking him to the town jail where he was placed in a cell with a one-armed man who was not as drunk as the Senator and was, therefore, capable of beating Senator Bud quite severely with the Senator's own shoe.

Senator Bud had used his freedom of speech and had learned a lesson for it. With tears in his eyes, he told me that after that night he'd never once in his life been drunk again.

In public.

In Lewisburg, West Virginia.

Now, you may be asking yourself "What the hell does any of that have to do with the First Amendment?" To be honest with you, I'm not sure. I can't remember what my point was. I'm not even sure that I had one. I think what's important here is that, even though I'm currently rambling incoherently, the freedom to do so is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

Just ask General Schwarzkopf.

And with that we've come full circle, gentle reader. Thank you for your time and consideration. As I said, I do not intend to take down my post about the Metropolitan Who's Who, and I stand by everything I've written. Cyndi Jeffus is just going to have to deal with that. I think she has a great deal to learn about what it means to be an American. Not that I encourage any of you to write to her at cyndi@metroexec.net and tell her so.

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Comments:
WHAT A COMEBACK!!!!! You go grrrl!!!11!!oneuno!!!!!
 
I need you to cease and desist from such great writing because 1) it makes the rest of us bloggers look like posers totally unworthy of inclusion in such a prestigious publication at Metropolitan Who's Who; and 2) I am prone to pissing my pants and/or shooting liquid out of my nose when I laugh so hard.

Please, for the love of those who have to wash my clothes, cease and desist.

Or I'll have to have a lawyer try to scare you with big words.
 
Remember what I said about unions? Well, I'm just as passionate about this post (the juxtaposition is just to annoy you) and I vociferously defend your right to write whatever the dirty wackenflack you want to. And from my relatively secure place in the wilds of Canada, I'm going to let Miss Cindy know too.
 
Thanks for the post!

I've been too busy to do much blogging, but I think that I'll have enough time to post a link over at my place.

BTW... great post.

later...
 
Quite the comedy of errors on their part. Heh heh. Way to stand your ground, Darrell.
 
THIS IS HILLARIOUS! I definitly agree you shouldn't take down your post...my goodness.

And that's totally misery-esque creepness that they would contact so many people...

i guess if you want to work for who's who you have to have good google skills.
 
It's funny that you mention Google, because all the Who's Who books in Whoville have really been eclipsed by Google/Myspace/Facebook in terms of finding out about people. This makes the publishers in Whoville very nervous, and so outbursts of indignation are the response to any criticism.
 
Hi
I found your through TJ's blog.
This is a great retort.
I especially liked your rambling explanation of Freedom of Speech.
The people at 'who are they' deserve something worse than this with more unprintable words which I'm sure you thought of but didn't include due to your basic decency.
Regards,
Vijay
 
Hi; just found this post. I agree completely with your decision, but since large companies with lawyers can still cause some problems, you might want to let a few folks like the EFF know about this. If there are legal problems, they will sometimes offer free help. Besides, they like to warn other people about the companies who want to trample the First Amendment. In other words, I don't think Cindy would like it very much. :-D
 
All you southern hicks speak like you are retards
 
The Who's Who folks have contacted me by mail and phone. They gave me all the props about being in the registry and then made their offers. Which, for the platinum $800 offer, included 2 round trip tickets to pretty much anywhere, including Paris and London. I kept saying No, so they kept lowering the offer. I can still get in the "fake" registry for $171 for 1 year and get free round trip airline tickets. What a scam!!
 
You are awesome!! I found your site after searching for this scam. I just got a letter from these people wanting to put me in the "Who's who in religion". Of course as a pastor it is my highest goal to have my name listed for all to see and praise my efforts. WWJD - he would pay the $800 for the platinum publication.
 
i was scammed by them. they charged me a hefty amount last year promising me all this nonsense (that they would be sending me a grand book with tons of contacts with emails and phone numbers in my profession - that they had thousands and thousands of contacts from all types of industries). i paid the $800 plantinum bill. then to make it worse they called me about 6 months later asking me for another $400 because they had to print something and some other nonsense. i screamed at them on the phone and they said the books had been delayed but that they were going to go out right away (this was 6 months ago). i had totally forgotten about it but then they called me again 3 weeks ago asking me for another $300 for some lifetime bullshit and that this would be the last charge. i told the kid on the other line to send me the book and that i refused to pay another penny. 3 weeks later i have not heard from them... so now i am at a point where i have started to do research on this company and to my surprise... wow look at what i found. other's discussing how they think that MWW is conducting fraudulant activity. and yes, i plan to report them. i have sent them an e-mail, lets see how long it takes them to respond. and i hope their attorneys call me after they see this blog. but i am not going to make it easy for them to find me. but boy do i hope they call me.
 
Welcome! You've been accepted for inclusion into Continental's "Who's Who of the Blogisphere" as a Senior Executive Blogger! Please fill out the form below or log onto our website... (just kidding)
THANKS FOR THE POST! - FYI - I found it as the third or fourth listing in GOOGLE for Cambridge's Who's Who as I was on the phone with the same lady you blogged about pitching me the scam. She became quiet after I mentioned her company was a scam, and then I hung up as per your instructions.
 
Thank you for that retelling of your crazy, crazy interaction with those crazy, crazy people. I stumbled onto your posts while looking up info on this company after receiving one of their letters. Needless to say, it's going in the trash. And the best part is, I got to find your blog and laugh really, really hard at them before I do. Best wishes.
-Steve
 
I was just working for one of these Who's Who. It is a scam and also a boiler room. They actually got mad at me when I put the phone down for a second to file something; "The phone must stay at your ear, and you must keep dialing for dollars." 99% of the people out there hang up immediately, mainly because they know of the scam or don't like to be solicited - especially people in the US. So they attack Bermuda, Barbados, etc... Where people, to me, seem to be a little ignorant. They all seem to use the same type of scripts and aggressive tactics. They will include anyone in their registry; it's all about the dollar. I worked there 1 week, and was actually fired when I couldn't make it into work one day because of car problems: but, I really don't think they liked me too much, even after I made a $1900 sale. I asked too many questions; such as, how many members are there? Why do you say that you have been in business over 6 years when your domain name was created in Sept. 2006? If I am an independent contractor, why am I not treated as one?
Anyway, I knew there was something wrong the first day when I couldn't take home the script to practice it; and also the owner got real worried when he saw me copying something down off the sales board. It was just the office #. Only one salesman has been there a year; all others have quit in a short time - probably because they knew it was a scam or didn't like to be pushed so hard on the phones. In such a bad economy, why are they having so much trouble finding employees? They also charge the persons credit card before you get off the phone with the sucker -- I mean customer -- to make sure the card clears. On the plaque they say is signed by the general mgr. of the company; just some office girl; they charge $159 for it; must cost $15 to make.

Basically, it's a boiler room; so don't take it out on the "Senior Editor" who is calling you. It's just some kid who has probably been scammed himself to do the job and make 300 calls a day. The real thief is the owner who has been opening who's whos since 1992.
I am surprised the authorities don't catch up to this guy. He sells lifetime memberships to people for a company has a very short life.
 
John this Joe, the person who sold you a membership with Premiere Who's Who. No one uses their real full names down at the company.

When I sold you the membership to the company I WAS working for; it was my 5th day on the job. I no longer work there; it is a total scam. They would sell this "distinguished honor" to anyone. It is a vanity sale. The members are not researched, they are just randomly called - and the pitch or script that is read entices people to pay exuberant amounts of money for basically nothing; regardless of their accomplishments, education, or vocation. I did research on this industry and there really is only one real Who's Who, and that is Marquis. In retrospect, I have found some very damning information on the "fake" Who's Who and found that they are a very unsavory bunch.
Afterwards, I felt bad about knowing I ripped you off and thought I should let you know about it. Actually, you were my first and last sale. This is what you need to do: Please do not call Premier back at least for a week. I am trying to get paid, and if they hear I did this, I never will - plus they are gangsters and I fear for my well being. They won't credit you back the money anyway. Call Visa ASAP and have the transaction reversed. Also --- cancel that Visa; they are known for charging them illegally and selling the CC #. Cambridge is also a scam just like this one.

Here is some interesting reading:

http://www.roer.com/security/archive/2008/october/emeralds_whos_who_trying_to_fool_me_too

http://exploringourmatrix.blogspot.com/2008/06/another-whos-who-scam.html

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=7227962&postID=117045076614269157&page=1&pli=1

http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2007/04/victoria-strauss-beware-whos-who.html

http://www.networksolutions.com/whois-search/prwwr.com

John, I am truly sorry about this and I hope you get your money back from these thieves. Once again, I did not give you this information. Go through the credit card company. If you have any questions, or need help with info for legal action let me know.
 
Like Steve G., I found your blog entries after doing a quick search on the company offering me membership in their Who's Who directory. They are also using the name "Cambridge Who's Who", and the M.O. mirrors others' experiences with these types of scam artists.

When my wife opened the mail today and showed some excitement over this, I did what I always do when receiving an unsolicited offer for something...hit Google and do some homework. Virtually every time I do this, I find sites and postings from others indicating that they've been misled (at minimum), scammed, stolen from, etc. by the company sending out the offer. Thank goodness I'm a little paranoid and mistrusting - not a great set of personality traits, I'll admit, but it really covers the collective asses of the family for which I'm responsible. Anyway, I'd love to share a copy of the letter if it's of interest to anyone.

And thank you for your courageous (yeah, I used that word) decision to stand by your convictions and use your voice to be heard in a way that speaks the truth without infringing on any individual’s or corporation’s legal rights. If your posting (as well as those from your readers) educate even one consumer as to the evil predators who are after their money and other assets, then it has served a very noble purpose above and beyond entertainment.
 
you're a rockstar

http://www.napw-exposed.com/contact/contact.html
 
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