Remember that article about the resume scam I fell for? Someone wants me to take it down. I need your help. Should I delete the story?
Come to think of it, there are several articles on this site that people want me to remove. And I’m not just talking about the ones people disagree with, like the one about losing my LastPass password.
I’m not deleting that one, by the way, so don’t get your hopes up.
Deletions are sometimes easy. Here’s an example: On Jan. 15, 2009, the afternoon that US Airways flight 1549 landed in the Hudson River, I posted a commentary linking the crash to US Airways’ management troubles. I took some potshots at the airline that, in retrospect, were a little over the top. As more information started to become available about the incident, I felt like the commentary was on thin ice. Then I received a call from the VP of communications at US Airways. “Come on,” he said. I agreed — and I deleted the story.
Why deleting a story is problematic
But deletions are problematic because when you do it enough times, you set a precedent. And next thing you know, everyone wants you to take something down. There’s the person you helped with a ticket refund who is embarrassed to have his name online. One woman emailed me this morning and accused me of maliciously revealing personal information, like her first and last name. I declined. We publish first and last names in accordance with the Associated Press stylebook and always obtain permission from our sources first.
There’s the company with a reputation management operative who wrongly claims printing the name of an executive is a violation of privacy laws. Basically, anyone with a lawyer can try to force you to delete something.
You have to draw the line somewhere.
But there’s also the question of right and wrong. For example, if a company did something terrible but then saw the error of its ways, should it deserve to have the slate wiped clean? And particularly if purging the record means repaying a substantial sum of money?
That’s the issue I’m facing right now.
I need your help: BLD Resume scam may be less scammy than I thought
So, do you recall my post on the BLD Resume scam? You know, the one where my son signed up for a “free” resume service that ended up costing me almost $500?
Chances are you do because many of you left comments about the scam. Some of you agreed that getting ripped off by the company, which was partially my fault because I didn’t monitor my credit card statement, was a valuable life lesson. You suggested I should let it go. Others urged me to pursue the scammers to the ends of the earth.
I let the article do what it was intended to do — to serve as a warning for anyone thinking about signing up for BLD Resume or LiveCareer or Resume Builder or whatever the company happened to be calling itself that day.
The post landed on page one of the Google search results, which got the company’s attention.
“We recently noticed you published a blog”
I wasn’t surprised to receive the following email:
We recently noticed you published a blog detailing your experience with LiveCareer. Our customers and their needs are our utmost priority, so it is unfortunate to read what you and your son went through. We strive to make sure our customers are satisfied with our products and services.
That said, we would like to refund your account in full. To do so, we need to first ID your account. Please provide us with the full name and email of the person who created the account (your son should be the account holder) to locate it in our systems.
Again, we apologize for the inconvenience.
Feel free to reach out with any questions – happy to help in any way I can, as I will personally be reviewing your case.
Customer Care Supervisor
I had mixed feelings about this offer. During my interactions with BLD Resume/LiveCareer/Resume Builder, I had never pulled my press card and done a Do-You-Know-Who-I-Am? move. I leave that kind of behavior to the other bloggers, and you know who you are.
I wanted to resolve this as a civilian. But I couldn’t.
And now that the article was highly ranked for the keyword “BLD Resume” has the company had a change of heart? Or did they just want me to delete the story?
Here’s my son’s BLD Resume account information
I sent the manager my son’s account information. Here’s the response:
Thank you for the information provided. It made it possible for us to locate your account and effect the full refund. Please allow 7 to 10 business days for this money to be reflected back in your account. You will be receiving an email shortly confirming the refund.
Again, we apologize for any hardship this situation might have caused. Once you confirm receipt of the full refund, we very much appreciate it if you could revise or take down your blog post about LiveCareer.
Thanks and be well.
Customer Service Supervisor
Delete my story?
My first reaction was: Absolutely not! We get several requests a week asking us to modify or delete a story. Most of them are cynical attempts to whitewash past wrongdoings.
Right now, for instance, a new company using the name of a company I profiled last year is threatening this site with a defamation lawsuit. Its namesake had been very bad and tried to sell fraudulent gift cards. I can’t believe any company would take on the name of a company many customers called a scam. Besides, lawsuit threats don’t intimidate my advocates; they embolden us.
Doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance?
But then I thought: Maybe I should delete this story. Doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance? If BLD Resume/LiveCareer/Resume Builder has seen the error of its ways and made restitution, shouldn’t we let bygones be bygones? The customer service supervisor seemed sincere, if not repentant. And to have a post about BLD Resume being a scam online for years — doesn’t that seem a little unfair?
Maybe. I certainly think that if BLD Resume/LiveCareer/Resume Builder’s refund comes through, as promised, then it deserves some credit. But what about the other people who lost money when their “free” resume started deducting $24.95 per month from their credit cards?
Is the company just offering me a refund to silence me, or is it truly sorry for remorselessly sucking almost $500 out of my bank account?
It’s hard to know.
I’m a big believer in second chances. I think people who make mistakes and learn from them should be offered another opportunity. I know that I’ve benefited from second (and third) chances. But I know that when I did, I had definitely learned a lesson and was not going to repeat the same mistake.
Could the same be said of BLD Resume/LiveCareer/Resume Builder? The complaints from unhappy customers were still there online, as they were a month ago when I wrote the original story. There’s no evidence that BLD Resume/LiveCareer/Resume Builder is trying to refund these customers or change their website to be more forthcoming about their fees. Do you have to run a consumer advocacy blog to get any justice?
If so, that seems wrong.
So should I delete this story?
All of which brings me to today’s question. Should I delete this story? Should I let BLD Resume/LiveCareer/Resume Builder continue doing its thing when I have my refund?
Companies often assume that their customers start social media shame campaigns for only one reason — to get a refund. But that’s not always true. I wrote about the BLD Resume scam because I learned so much from it and wanted to pass that knowledge along to you. Also, I wanted to make sure everyone was on the lookout for a “BLD Resume” charge on their credit cards. Part of our mission here at Elliott Advocacy is to warn consumers about scams and shady deals. This was right in line with our mission.
Yet at the same time, I empathize with this customer service supervisor. He has to clean up the mess his employer has made. He’ll probably be evaluated based on how many negative posts he can eliminate from the internet. I feel bad for him.
So what would you do? I really need your help. Should I delete this story or leave it online? Am I missing anything in considering this decision? If I pushed the “delete” key, would I make things better — or worse?