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  1. #1
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    Advice Needed - Place to Report Bad Customers

    Hello All,
    Hosting Customers are permitted and encouraged to place reviews about their hosts on several sites, but there is no real service to allow hosts to post reviews about their customers. This got my gears spinning and I started work on a new side project to allow this to happen.

    This is basically a database of known problematic, abusive and fraud customers that can only be accessed by hosting companies. I know there are concerns about ethics, legalities and privacy, but please read below for the concerns and how I am addressing, Is there anything I am missing?
    • Transmition of Customer Data - Of couse this must be done over SSL.
    • Customer Privacy - When a host triggers a search, the host will simply see a "Match", "Partial" or "No Match" along with the nature of the offence. No other details are given to the host. The content is also NOT indexed by any search engine.
    • Ethics - Hosts who choose to use this service will of course need to modify their Terms of Service and Policy policies to say that they may report any issue to this service. I am plannig to have a template on the site
    • Registration - Hosts who sign up for this service will be manually reviewed to ensure that they are an established hosts.
    • False Reports - All reports are validated manually
    • Integration - An API is being developed to allow the searches to be done from WHMCS or any billing application of your choice. An API Key is required before the API will return data
    Is there anything you can think of? I am also planning on making this a free service to all hosts. The API-Key may be a premium service (Yearly Fee) once it is out of beta.
    Keith I Myers
    KMyers.me The rantings of a lunatic
    Geek Survival Guide - Reviews and Advice for Geeks

  2. #2
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    I would be happy to be a customer if you could get the various kinks worked out. That will be a challenge, though, especially the legal aspect.
    eVerity.com
    Celebrating 9 years of customer service. Domain names, shared/semi-dedicated/dedicated hosting, SSL certificates, merchant accounts, reseller options, and referral program, since July 2000.

  3. #3
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    How can you manually validate a claim that is disputed and either party can easily provide forged "evidence"?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by IH-Rameen View Post
    How can you manually validate a claim that is disputed and either party can easily provide forged "evidence"?
    Hello,
    Unfortunately you are completely correct about this. I do not have a way to completely rule out false evidence. Since this system is only going to be opened to verified hosts, I will assume that they will be honest. This system will not allow anonymous submissions, the user who submits the claim will either need to log into the system or post the report via the API Key.

    Of course there will be reasonible checks done on each reports (such as a ns record search) to hopefully rule out false reports.
    Keith I Myers
    KMyers.me The rantings of a lunatic
    Geek Survival Guide - Reviews and Advice for Geeks

  5. #5
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    There is no way to truly verify either side's claims in most cases. However, as long as both parties are allowed to dispute the other side of the story, a host would be able to read the whole case and make a decision on that basis.

    It would be tricky, but we need something like this. How many thousands of posts are on this forum warning hosts about one customer or another? It is impossible to validate every account by searching google. There needs to be a consolidated database of known abusers.
    eVerity.com
    Celebrating 9 years of customer service. Domain names, shared/semi-dedicated/dedicated hosting, SSL certificates, merchant accounts, reseller options, and referral program, since July 2000.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by everity View Post
    There is no way to truly verify either side's claims in most cases. However, as long as both parties are allowed to dispute the other side of the story, a host would be able to read the whole case and make a decision on that basis.

    It would be tricky, but we need something like this. How many thousands of posts are on this forum warning hosts about one customer or another? It is impossible to validate every account by searching google. There needs to be a consolidated database of known abusers.
    Hello,
    Your exactly correct.

    I actually just had a problem where this would come in handy 2 months ago. I had a customer sign up for a paid hosting plan and used it to run a spam and phishing site. He got one of my IPs nulled . After I cut his service and got the IP re-enabeled I decided to google him. I got over 100 responses. He has done this to over 10 other hosts. He will be the first name in my database.
    Keith I Myers
    KMyers.me The rantings of a lunatic
    Geek Survival Guide - Reviews and Advice for Geeks

  7. #7
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    This has been talked about to death in the past. The biggest reason this should not be done is because of identity theft. A huge number of "problem" customers who spam, scam, chargeback, etc. are from stolen financial information. So, you report this to your database - you've just added insult to injury to the person's who's financial information was used. Also, you may want to consult an attorney because - personally, I'd sue the pants off any company that reported me as a deadbeat or problematic when I'd never done any business with them whatsoever.

    --Tina
    ||| 99.999% Uptime SLA!!!
    Plenty of space and bandwidth to fit your needs!
    www.AEIandYou.com - - (WP Friendly - Premium Reseller Hosting and Cheap Dedicated Servers)

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by AH-Tina View Post
    This has been talked about to death in the past. The biggest reason this should not be done is because of identity theft. A huge number of "problem" customers who spam, scam, chargeback, etc. are from stolen financial information. So, you report this to your database - you've just added insult to injury to the person's who's financial information was used. Also, you may want to consult an attorney because - personally, I'd sue the pants off any company that reported me as a deadbeat or problematic when I'd never done any business with them whatsoever.

    --Tina
    Hello,
    This service does not (and will never) collect any financial information. The main items collected are e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, names, cities, states, zip codes, and domains.
    Of course the user will be able to dispute any claim, however I indend this to be done behind the scenes to the customer.

    I was also very active in the treads you mentioned above
    Keith I Myers
    KMyers.me The rantings of a lunatic
    Geek Survival Guide - Reviews and Advice for Geeks

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by KDisk View Post
    Hello,
    This service does not (and will never) collect any financial information. The main items collected are e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, names, cities, states, zip codes, and domains.
    Of course the user will be able to dispute any claim, however I indend this to be done behind the scenes to the customer.

    I was also very active in the treads you mentioned above
    So, my name, phone number, etc. turns up on a public site stating that I'm a problem customer...and I've never done business with you. I don't find out this information until I'm going for a job interview and my potential new employer Googles my name. Is that how it would work?

    --Tina
    ||| 99.999% Uptime SLA!!!
    Plenty of space and bandwidth to fit your needs!
    www.AEIandYou.com - - (WP Friendly - Premium Reseller Hosting and Cheap Dedicated Servers)

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by AH-Tina View Post
    So, my name, phone number, etc. turns up on a public site stating that I'm a problem customer...and I've never done business with you. I don't find out this information until I'm going for a job interview and my potential new employer Googles my name. Is that how it would work?

    --Tina
    Nope

    None of the content will be indexed by Google. When a host searches a customer, it will simply return 4 values, NONE of which contain any personal data.
    • Match={True|False|Possilbe}
    • ReasonCode={Scam|Fraud|Chargebacks|Phishing|Spam|etc}
    • Details={Brief Description entered by my team}
    • RecordID={XXXXXXXXXXXXXX00101010}
    When information is entered into the database, the only person outside of my team that will see the complaint is the host that entered it. The reason that the host will see it is they will have the ability to remove the complaint in certain cases. An example of this is if money is owed and paid in full.
    Keith I Myers
    KMyers.me The rantings of a lunatic
    Geek Survival Guide - Reviews and Advice for Geeks

  11. #11
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    I looked into doing something like this a couple of years ago, but after taking legal advice decided that I would not go ahead.

    Somethings to consider:

    1) Have a lawyer on retainer.
    2) Have plenty of money set aside for legal costs.
    3) How are you going to afford to pay the compensation if someone wins a legal case against you?
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by HostOrca View Post
    I looked into doing something like this a couple of years ago, but after taking legal advice decided that I would not go ahead.

    Somethings to consider:

    1) Have a lawyer on retainer.
    2) Have plenty of money set aside for legal costs.
    3) How are you going to afford to pay the compensation if someone wins a legal case against you?
    Hello,
    I have already consulted one, There is no legal action possible. As I explained above, I will not publish any customer information on the site, The only item displayed is True, False, Possible. There is no "slandering" on this site or even names displayed.
    Keith I Myers
    KMyers.me The rantings of a lunatic
    Geek Survival Guide - Reviews and Advice for Geeks

  13. #13
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    The law must be different in you country than the UK then.

    For instance, under the data protection act, a person has the legal right to ask to see all information that you hold on them, they can request the removal of all/some of the information if they feel it is unjust. If you refuse to remove the information then they can take you to court and have a judge decide. Basically, unless you can prove that they where the ones who committed the "offense", the judge is likely to side with them.

    The fact that you are not displaying information makes no difference, your still storing it/searching against it.

    But, as I said, it will depend on the laws where you are/your server is.
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  14. #14
    And even if you were right, and have all the proof in the world, I think you would still be screwed.

    It seems that they hold the business more accountable than an individual.

    This idea would definitely be an awesome addition and would be help to a lot of hosts, however it might be more trouble than its worth.

    How do you plan to monetize it? Charge a monthly membership fee or something?
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  15. #15
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    Best way to avoid horrible customers is to raise your prices and have good fraud protection. In all cases the client who is willing to pay is the client your likely to have the least problems with.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by HostOrca View Post
    The law must be different in you country than the UK then.

    For instance, under the data protection act, a person has the legal right to ask to see all information that you hold on them, they can request the removal of all/some of the information if they feel it is unjust. If you refuse to remove the information then they can take you to court and have a judge decide. Basically, unless you can prove that they where the ones who committed the "offense", the judge is likely to side with them.

    The fact that you are not displaying information makes no difference, your still storing it/searching against it.

    But, as I said, it will depend on the laws where you are/your server is.
    Hello,
    Oc course if I am requested to remove information by a legitimate party, it will be done. The main point of this system is to catch people using false IDs or Aliases.
    I intend to fully comply with all United States Laws.
    Keith I Myers
    KMyers.me The rantings of a lunatic
    Geek Survival Guide - Reviews and Advice for Geeks

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbbrock1 View Post
    And even if you were right, and have all the proof in the world, I think you would still be screwed.

    It seems that they hold the business more accountable than an individual.

    This idea would definitely be an awesome addition and would be help to a lot of hosts, however it might be more trouble than its worth.

    How do you plan to monetize it? Charge a monthly membership fee or something?
    Hello,
    I am hoping to make this into a Free Service. If we decide to charge anything for the service, there may be a small yearly fee for access to the API.
    Keith I Myers
    KMyers.me The rantings of a lunatic
    Geek Survival Guide - Reviews and Advice for Geeks

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ultima VPS View Post
    Best way to avoid horrible customers is to raise your prices and have good fraud protection. In all cases the client who is willing to pay is the client your likely to have the least problems with.
    Hello,
    I believe my prices are fair for hosting, but it is not always an indicator of fraud or abuse. The person I mentioned above had my (now outdated) $10.00 per month plan...

    I do use MaxMind fraud prevention as well as Telephone Verification in several cases.
    Keith I Myers
    KMyers.me The rantings of a lunatic
    Geek Survival Guide - Reviews and Advice for Geeks

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