An entry replete with a double-dealing DIY network making rounds; ARG's last days and letter; Nuitech's change in terms possibly leading to new freebie opportunities; new links. This blog raises questions about the freebie industry, and how to ward off evil networks. Join me in my quest for truth...
*hot new networks*
From June until now, how explosive has this summer really been? Let's recap. Acquisis devalued members' gifts due to missing credits. Brandarama sold their assets, producing a rigid letter. Mala fide Canadian company brailed in another victim, and perhaps others. I-Deal shipping PDAs instead of Visas, though the phones were advertised on their site. People just risked it. Despite the detonation damage, Nuitech has changed their 60-day rule; it's now 30-day. That's great news for us! The shorter the period, the less you spend keeping memberships. I did a brief write up on Nuitech last year. All the details remain the same except the 60-day rule. If you're a fresh face to Nuitech, you need to read it first. Those who are in the know, scroll to the bottom for links.
2008 Nuitech write up: DIY Halloween spectacular! Proven legit DIY with 8 offers, 1.5K-2K value gifts and more!
The 30-day rule is outlined under their "cancellation limitation", which states "You will not be eligible to receive a Gift in this Promotion if, within 30 days of your Sponsor Offer Initial Transaction Date, you cancel your participation in more than two Sponsor Offers you have completed as a part of the Program Requirements. If you were invited by a Refer-a-Friend Offer, you can't cancel your participation in any Sponsor Offers within 30 days of your Sponsor Offer Initial Transaction Date (the “Cancellation Limitation”). The Cancellation Limitation applies regardless of whether such limitations appear in the advertiser’s terms and conditions for the applicable Sponsor Offer."
This does not mean you have 30 days to complete the offers instead of 60. In my version I said, "Also, all offers must be completed within 60 days upon sign up." So that isn't related to their old rule, it simply means your offers must be done in 60 days. The aforementioned rule rests at 30 days. Before, keeping your offers for 60 days was the requirement.
With the fog networks are in, this fulgents light through the haze, pleasing the eye's view. We need more of this, and less of what's been offered. My disgust for Brandarama and ill luck with an I-Deal site caused me to remove myself from freebies. Knowing I wasn't receiving my reward from Brandarama, I still hoped my $4,300.00 check would arrive. I only waited 2 years... Before "leaving", I finished last months blog, then went head-to-head with Mpell. It sounds foolish, and I knew they would play the "ARG fired us so we aren't responsible wah wah wah card!!!", but in my mind they ARE liable since we followed their rules. At their behest we maxed out our credit cards, buying thousands of dollars in merchandise to collect payment within 8 to 10 weeks as promised in THEIR certificates. Of course they will say that. Wouldn't want any trouble, eh? Ah well.
I feel they are an upstanding company, however, they unwittingly made the wrong chess move. Part of me felt bad engaging them, but my devilish side overruled. It felt good. That was the greatest reward of all. When asked offline where my gift was irritated me. Not that it was questioned, there was nothing to tell; Brandarama never paid. Freebies have always been a "fun" hobby for me, but reading, writing, arguing and dealing with Brandarama daily ruined it. It got to the point no matter where I was people asked. I was so miffed I did not want to hear "Brandarama" or "Brad Powers", nor be told "Take them to court" anymore. The money is long gone, what matters is the war we fought. Court wouldn't have worked anyway... There is no solution. Their publishers won't see a dime, and neither will we. I did profit $2,850.00 off them last year. Some didn't earn nearly that much, nor were they owed 4.5K in 2009. I'll consider myself lucky and move on.
Now, the blow. These letters were addressed to us July 13, 2009.
"Dear ::domain name here:: Customer,
According to our records, you may be a claimant of ::domain name here::. Active Response Group,
Inc. (“ARG”) is the parent company of ::domain name here::. As you know, many businesses have been hurt badly by the financial downturn and the credit crunch that followed the collapse of the subprime mortgage markets. ARG, like many other firms, though not involved in any way in those activities, has seen its revenues drop dramatically. As a result, we found ourselves in very serious financial difficulty.
Despite taking various steps to reduce our costs and preserve value, we became unable to make our debt payments to our senior lender, Hercules Technology Growth Capital, Inc. (“Hercules”). Hercules had lent ARG $10,000,000, which senior loans were secured by all of our assets. Since we were unable to pay our current payments, Hercules declared the loans in default and began to exercise its rights under the loan agreements and State law to recover its loans outstanding through an agreed upon asset sale process.
Through this process, ARG is working with Hercules to complete the sale of all of ARG’s assets in an auction. In the meantime, Hercules has agreed to permit us to use its collateral to fund a bare bones operating budget in order to allow ARG to continue enough operations to be able to still seek a buyer of ARG as something like a going concern. Unfortunately, since any claims you might have are unsecured, and therefore in any liquidation scenario would be junior to the claims of Hercules, who holds a valid senior security interest in ARG’s assets and any proceeds from the sale of ARG assets, no funds have been allocated in the budget to satisfy any consumer prize claims.
Hercules’ agents have scheduled the bidding on ARG’s assets to end on July 23. Only after the results of all of Hercules’ and ARG’s Management’s efforts to sell our assets and business are determined will we be able to say whether there will be any funds left over after Hercules applies the proceeds of any such sale to its loans outstanding. At this juncture, we cannot determine whether there will be any surplus at all. However, if there is sufficient interest by a sufficient number of bidders, it is still a possibility.
Should you have any questions, please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org name here.com . While our customer service center is no longer in operation, if we are in a legal and operational position to do so, we shall try to keep you informed of material developments in this process. We are of course very disheartened by this turn of events, as we know you must be. We thank you for your patronage and wish you the best.
Very truly yours,
Customer Care Department"
How can I show freebies in a good light when disaster strikes? I can't. This was beyond my control... All I could do was fight back with my bow and arrow. This will be the last time I speak of Brandarama. We've shared some beers and laughs, even a couple wedding dances. I will miss you!! Good-bye Brandarama. Okay, I'm not a drinker, but this calls for a dramatic ending, haha. It's time to go forward. I've moved on to greener pastures by doing an I-Deal site. I just need my platinum to go through, and I might have to do a replacement on silver. I'm waiting for them to rotate the silver offers. My sign up date was July 17th. Hopefully it'll work out. *fingers crossed*
The exigency of what I am about to reveal is important. Leery about a network that sweeps the web with spam, I investigated their activities from 2005 until now. They formed Free Super, LLC., a premier direct marketing firm based in San Francisco, CA. Under their gift program, members received ipods, laptops and gift cards. Next, Popular Media LLC. was established; they owned and operated both LLCs, respectively. They have branches in Washington, which explains the Seattle location on their sites. For a period of time people were rewarded. It wasn't until 2006 that Operation Schema began. It's wise to note that just because a network paid in the past, does not imply they will stay strong in the present or future. DIY networks are mutable. Below are images of an authentic prize received via shipping carrier.
Months passed with people pursuing their sites. Then the unthinkable happened. Hundreds of people turned in their paperwork after approval, waited the appropriate time for their gifts, but they never arrived. Instead, they expired all their domains. Imagine all of us doing I-Deal sites, submitting our info and waiting, then they close their sites, and stop responding to e-mails and letters. I'll assume Free Super LLC. died at this time because I checked with the Secretary of State for CA and found no such LLC., however, Popular Media LLC. is on record. And Free Super, LLC. were not a BBB accredited business.
A complaint from 2005:
"I am so angry about this company that I'm about to take this to the BBB. This company enticed people to sign up and get a free ipod. You had to have 10 people sign up with their website. Approximately 3 days later, they changed the stipulations of the website saying that you had to purchase $100 in their websites to qualify for the ipod (and they changed it from the ipod mini to the nano). So I get 10 of my friends to sign up as stated, sent in my receipts totaling $114.00 and I get a letter saying I had been in violation of the TofS laws. I refered all of my friends on the website and they are not impersonated as said so on the letter. I did not personally use multiple user accounts. I legitimately got 10 people to the website and gave them my link."
They're still active under Popular Media LLC. offering a gift fulfillment program. Now they serve as an independent judging organization for contests monster corporations hold. In 2008, they handled Johnson & Johnson's Escape Your Stress competition, which promoted their Melt Away Stress product line.
The address of Popular Media LLC:
Popular Media LLC
2440 16th Street PMB# 210
San Francisco, CA 94103-4211
Some of their urls over the years: americansurveyalliance.com, fillmycloset.com, freesupergiftcards.com, superkidstuff.com, circles.spafinder.com, rewards.popstarnetworkpanel.com, rewards.fortakingsurveys.com
I didn't quite understand the "rupees" that were offered. If the domain was alive I would examine it.
What one person posted to give you an idea:
This is so easy. All we have to do is take this survey and we get 1000
Rupees! Click here:
There you have it. Mystery solved! If you do their sites proceed with caution. The contact page is defunct, and the site template itself is rather bland. At least the Canadian company puts on a show with their sites, lol. I have to give them that.
As fantastical as this is, part of me suggests a mutual brotherhood between the Canadian company and Popular Media LLC. What I found may lead to something on a much larger scale. However, the connection between both parties may be nonexistent. Similarities in links, policies, and addresses alone aren't a testament to an affiliation. Still, a sheer chance of partnership remains. Even if Popular Media LLC. isn't the parent company to the Canadian crew, they may work together. For my safety, I state that my findings are prevaricatory until hard evidence surfaces. Everything written in this blog is veracious, following extensive research. I plan on preserving it's good name. That being said, I will continue my research despite the outcome. If no connection is made, I will deem it untrue and close the case. Until I have answers, all I can claim is Popular Media LLC. have cheated members out of their gifts, and that is all.
Let's make comparisons.
Canadian company info:
url style: http://track.platinum-giveaways.com/SplashPage.aspx?g=3339682508e34480ada3d30a55687e91&c=4795&s=1717&se=05 - http://web1.webrewardstream.com/SplashPage.aspx?g=0321c502065643b7b82dbdf19e26e11f&c=658&s=__DefaultSubcampaign__&se=05
Washington address connection.
I did a whois on webrewardstream, the domain listed in their policy, and it pulled up Bellevue, WA.
Popular Media LLC. info:
url style: http://rewards.fortakingsurveys.com/show.aspx?ck=lS2DZbD
Washington address connection.
ATTN: Customer Support
1606 SW 104th ST #123
Seattle, WA 98146
That's the address taken from their policy.
This may all be coincidental, so I'm not making the bold assumption that it's them. When I bumped into Popular Media's sites I was skeptical, but never bothered inspecting them until kinneylamb's post in the DIY section. The resemblance makes me go "Hmmm..." Then again, look at the Acquisis sites under *links 'n such*, putting them alongside I-Deal's links. Both I-Deal and Acquisis share similitude, but are clearly an entity all their own. I will update this if there is a connection. Research must be done in order to protect ourselves when seeking freebies. One thing I can't stand is to see someone fall victim to a scam. If we band together, we can find the hardcore facts. Nothing pleases me more than stopping these criminals in their tracks! You can never be too careful. Keep an open mind. Never doubt a company's potential to flimflam you out of your gift. In the end, it all comes down to them, and what they want. They only care about you if you seek to destroy their reputation. If you slip up, don't think they won't disqualify you, because they will. The more DQs, the more money they make. That's the name of the game. It's all a gamble.
*links 'n such*
http://www.consumerbonus.us.com/?config=6322&src=WC-253351aaa:223820: - 8 offers, no refs/$500.00 Visa + t-shirt
http://www.smartershopper.us.com/?config=6363&src=WC-87054aaa:223323: - 8 offers, no refs/$500.00 Target gc
http://www.giftcardbonus.us.com/?config=6021&src=WC-253351aaa:205342: - 8 offers, no refs/$500.00 supermarket gc
http://www.foodcritic101.com/?config=6359&src=WC-87054aaa:207498: - 8 offers, no refs/$250.00 Olive Garden or Red Lobster gc
http://www.dineandshop4nothing.com/?config=6208&src=WC-87054aaa:217746: - 8 offers, no refs/$250.00 restaurant + $250.00 merchant gc of your choice
http://www.rewardscentre.net/?config=2752&src=WC-147994aaaUS87054:155863: - 6 offers, no refs/purple Motorola V3i RAZR phone
http://www.rewardscentre.net/?config=3171&src=WC-147994aaaUS87054:155863: - 6 offers, 1 ref/$500.00 Visa
http://www.rewardscentre.net/?config=4240&src=WC-147994aaaUS87054:155863: - 6 offers, 1 ref/$500.00 Visa
http://www.rewardscentre.net/?config=4562src=WC-147994aaaUS87054:155863: - 6 offers, 1 ref/$500.00 Mac's gc
http://www.rewardscentre.net/?config=4580src=WC-147994aaaUS87054:155863: - 6 offers, 1 ref/$500.00 Jean Coutu gc
http://www.rewardscentre.net/?config=4624src=WC-147994aaaUS87054:155863: - 6 offers, 2 refs/$1,200.00 check
http://www.rewardscentre.net/?config=4786src=WC-147994aaaUS87054:155863: - 6 offers, 2 refs/gaming console of your choice + game
http://www.rewardscentre.net/?config=4787src=WC-147994aaaUS87054:155863: - 6 offers, 1 ref/Wii + Wii fit bundle
http://www.wecoveryourbills.com/rd_p?p=140011&c=18252-wcybgas1yr1000 - 10 offers, no refs/$1,000.00 gift of your choice
http://onlinerewardcenter.com/rd_p?p=141017&t=3939 - misc gift site with unique requirements and prize values
http://www.eshoppingpanel.com/offer?CID=2837&PID=170113&SID=613.&TID=668635628&c1=613.&c2=&c3= - 8 offers, no refs/$500.00 Visa
- 8 offers, no refs/$500.00 Wal-Mart gc
http://www.eshoppingpanel.com/offer?CID=2963&PID=170113&SID=613.&TID=668636565&c1=613.&c2=&c3= - 8 offers, no refs/$500.00 H&M gc
It's been a while since I have written two blogs in one month, so I just might. It's hard to find time these days. I try to squeeze as much info as I can into each entry, so it's a decent amount for 30 days. The details on this shady DIY network are critical to learn so we can safeguard ourselves, friends, and loved ones. Any chance I get to hammer scammers, I do it!! I love how that rhymed, haha... Let's play hammer-a-scammer! Silliness aside, this blog knows no bounds. With your support and my effort, this blog will stay successful. Thank you everyone for continuing to read my ramblings, and for all the comments. I appreciate it. As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. I love hearing from you!
I'm over and out...