A few years ago, I had significant income from online advertising because of my networked business model that worked extremely well at that time. At one point the ad serving company decided to cancel my account because some sites in my network violated their terms and conditions. They told me that they couldn’t pay me for the last two months because they had already refunded the money to the advertisers who were outraged at my T & C violations. Mind you, it was a small fortune. But a couple of months later, they decided to reinstate me. The first thing they did after reactivating my account was to pay me my outstanding balance — the money they had “refunded” to their disgruntled advertisers. I, of course, was quite gruntled about the outcome. But the joy didn’t last; they banned me again a month later.
Those who try to make bit of money online have known this for a while — big corporations with advertising or affiliate programs cancel accounts just before they have to issue the first check (crossing the usual threshold for payment of $100). How many smalltime bloggers can or will fight an MNC for $100? I was banned by an affiliate program for cookie-stuffing (an advanced technique some hackers apparently use) just as my account was due for payment. I asked them what the heck they were talking about because the only cookies I could ever stuff were Orange Milanos which went straight to my waist line, but that wouldn’t wash with the MNC involved.
About four months ago, my daughter took a part-time job with a famous ice cream chain. She worked for a couple of weeks and decided to call in sick one day because she wanted to sleep in — I suspect because of genetic factors, she is my daughter after all. She got sacked. The interesting thing is that she still hasn’t been paid. First they wanted her to come back on a specific day. Then they asked her to open an account with a specific bank. Then they wanted her to text the account details to the manager, who said he never got it. Now everything seems to be in order. I am waiting to see what the next imaginative hurdle is going to be.
I think we really need to fight these small battles. We give up too easily when the stakes are low because our time is worth more than the winnings. But then, there are crooks, both of the soulless corporate kind and the garden variety, often working hand-in-hand to reap the benefits of our indolence.
A couple of years ago, my daughter saw this online ad saying she could win an iPad if she clicked somewhere. Then she got a text message about something, which she didn’t understand. She tried once more. My telephone bill next month had six dollars charged for the two messages she received. No doubt the telephone company and the shady advertiser had all the fine prints about the charges, and the fact that it was only a lucky draw with a near-zero chance of winning. The charge was only six dollars, so I didn’t fight it. Even if I had, they (either the telephone company or the lucky-draw company) probably would have just refunded the money to get me to stop pestering them. That is not the point. There are thousands of others who wouldn’t even look at the bill to see the charges. There should be punishment for such small crimes that add up to huge loots for the crooks. May be I should give our lawyer Mike Matterson a call? I am beginning to understand the punitive-damages side of the American legal system.
If you have similar stories about small outrages that you let slide, I would love to hear of them. Do leave a comment below.