Vitaly Borker, the owner of decormyeyes.com, has hit on an ingenious method to market his Internet eyeglasses business: Bully customers into leaving negative reviews on watchdog websites, then watch your rank in Google searches rise!
This long article about Borker and decormyeyes.com in the New York Times is incredible. It opens with Borker harassing a disgruntled customer, Clarabelle Rodriguez, over a disputed order. He calls her up:
"Listen, bitch," he fumed, according to Ms. Rodriguez. "I know your address. I'm one bridge over" - a reference, it turned out, to the company's office in Brooklyn. Then, she said, he threatened to find her and commit an act of sexual violence too graphic to describe in a newspaper.
Then he sends her an email with a picture of her house, which scares her so much she calls the police.
This is regular behavior for Borker. And though hundreds of customers have complained on watchdog websites like ComplaintsBoard.com, Borker actually welcomes the negative feedback. He posted to one of these sites, taunting the complainants: "I just wanted to let you guys know that the more replies you people post, the more business and the more hits and sales I get. My goal is NEGATIVE advertisement."
Thanks to Google's top secret algorithm, even negative web chatter boosts his Google rank and brings in more unwitting customers. "I never had the amount of traffic I have now since my 1st complaint," he told the Times. "I am in heaven."
The travails of Borker's customers vainly attempting to bring his site down remind me of the stories I heard from the victims of Christopher Stone, the bullying, sextortionist proprietor of the now-defunct teen gossip site StickyDrama.com. Often they would have amassed pages of incriminating tweets, emails and blog posts, only to have nowhere to go. Eventually some came to me in the hopes of exposing Stone. But though an unflattering post I wrote about him turns up high in his Google results, he was accepted to Southwestern Law School and seems to be doing fine.
We usually think of a negative Google result as a terrible stain on our character that will haunt us forever, but Borker has figured out how to game the system, and Stone's escaped any real consequence. Maybe we've been overestimating the power of embarrassing Google results all along? The shame of a Google stain doesn't have much effect on someone who's shameless.
[Image via Shutterstock]