Yesterday was Cyber Monday – the day we were encouraged to go online, seize what are purported to be great discounts, and spend the nation back into prosperity… or, at the least, financial stability.

Most have electronic relationships (or is that an oxymoron?) with established suppliers, the Amazons of the world;  but for those in search of a specific product, a web search is typically the first order of business: go to Google, enter the product, and then check out the first three or four firms  showing atop the first page.   And that, as it turns out, may not be such a good thing.

Sunday’s New York Times headlined their story about Vitaly Borker “A Bully Finds a Pulpit on the Web.”  My choice would have been “Bad Guy Makes Big Bucks Abusing the Web.” Long story short, Borker’s company has a history of unimaginably poor customer service and, believe it or not, selling a lot more because of it. The more customers his company abuses, the more customers they get.

How?  Well, you don’t want to be one of his dissatisfied customers. Borker (who uses more than one name) routinely responds first with curt emails, then frequently follows with profanity laced emails. Then if the customer remains adamant in his demand for a refund or by stopping payment,, the newspaper account say his responses have escalated to threats of physical violence.

Frustrated, many take to the internet to warn others. But by blasting the New Yorker online, by joining groups seeking to publicize the abuse he heaps on customers, they, albeit unwittingly, drive up his ratings on the search engines, so instead of being somewhere on page six, his company ranks even higher on the web page than the name brands of the eye glasses he advertises.  Boasts Borker, “I out rank the designer’s own web site.” And the higher your position on the search engines, the more people who will visit your site and, hence, the more people likely to buy.

Borker, who works out of his home, caught onto this Catch 22 quickly and has made it a practice to go far beyond reason to agitate initially and then literally threaten those who had the misfortune to buy from him and then seek to return their designer eye glasses.  His record is one  of threatening to take disgruntled customers to small claims court, and later emailing copies of “documents” showing a suit has been filled. If the consumer persists he has escalated to the point of emailing pictures of the customer’s home (to prove he knows where to find them), noting “I am watching you.” He typically doesn’t stop until the customer surrenders and withdraws his stop payment order.

The Times quotes Borker as saying, “I’m not a sales girl at Macy’s following a customer around the store to make sure you’re happy.”  Nor is he interested in doing business with those who have researched his company and read the scathing reviews. The Black Bart of the internet knows there are far more potential customers than those he has already alienated, and those are the folks whose money he wants.  He literally makes more money by abusing his customers and then gaming the system.   The more people go online to complain about Borker and his company, the higher his ranking; the higher his ranking, the more business he does. And yet who can fault consumers trying to caution others who may be in the market for the same product.

What’s the answer?  Research.  Know our vendor before you make an online purchase… and, as the has proven, those resting atop  Google’s first page are not, by placement alone, guaranteed to be quality merchants.

Bud Carter, check out my web site – home of “Pithy Quotes”