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Is This a Scam by Symantec?

Can’t help but think that “Norton by Symantec” is trying to scare the beejeesus out of website owners with something that sure smells like a scam to me…or at least a really spammy marketing effort to bolster their contact lists.

One of my businesses, Innov8Press, recently began rebuilding a long-time client’s new website. Before the rebuild started we moved the client to a new webhost as their existing one wasn’t up to handling what the new site will require for technical resources.

This is a site we had built (but were not managing at the time) and is one we cleaned up after a hack two years ago and it has been clean ever since. FOR THE LAST TWO YEARS Google says it is clean. Sucuri says it is clean. The premium Wordfence security suite says it is clean.

So imagine my surprise that, after we’d moved the site, we saw this at the new webhost’s dashboard:

Then I go back to Sucuri — which again, had shown the site to be clean for TWO YEARS until we just moved it last week — and now this appears:

We’ve now invested a couple of hours:

  • Creating an account at Norton Safe Web
  • Interacting on the community forum (basically to ask, “WTF?”)
  • Downloading the verification file
  • Uploading it to the site’s server
  • Requesting a verification as the “site owner”.
SCAM OR JUST SPAMMY MARKETING?

Every fiber in my being tells me this is a spammy attempt to get website “owners”, whether the actual owner or developers like us, to signup for their services. At the very least it’s an attempt to identify website owners so they can email the shit out of us.

If Norton starts spamming us I’ll create a filter in Gmail to instantly set all their emails to “spam.” They’d better not think they can market to us in this fashion like some no-scruples startup, and basically waste the time of website owners like this.

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Why This MICHELIN® Tire Promo is Essentially a Scam

UPDATE ON 9/25/17
Looks like either their original email to me was boilerplate or this post, social media shaming, and other efforts got them to remove the obstacles for rebate payment:

In August I purchased four MICHELIN® brand tires for my 2013 Toyota Prius Persona. This is a car my air-traveling wife hardly drove and has only 18,XXX miles on the odometer. As such, its tires are ones I could have easily driven for another 10,000 or more miles but, since I’ll be driving it to California in the next few months and will be putting on a lot of miles once I’m there, I wanted new tires.

Fortunately there was a $70 rebate on the 60,000-mile rated MICHELIN tires and service for which I spent nearly $800 on (see the screenshot about the rebate). Though I absolutely detest rebates, mainly since companies make it very hard to comply with all the instructions in the hope they’ll fulfill as few rebates as possible, I am quite meticulous on how I apply for them to ensure I’m complying with instructions and thought this would be seamless and easy. After all, MICHELIN is a major company and is (I thought) above the plaid-sportcoat-like behaviors of other companies who try to block and make rebate redemption difficult enough that the vast majority of consumers find it more bother than its worth and stop pursuing the rebate as soon as push-back by the “fulfillment centers” occurs.

That said, readers of this blog know I *deeply hate* rebates, unless they’re the “taken at the checkout” kind which gives a discount immediately. Consumers hating-rebates-backlash is the primary reason why Best Buy began eliminating rebates entirely in 2005 since most are as close to scams as these companies can away with and not be stopped by the Federal Trade Commission or Congress.

In my view rebates like this one are scams since they prey on the likelihood that only 21.1% of total sales or 67.6% of incremental sales from people successfully submit information to receive the rebate or they mail in the original receipt and then get a letter saying something like, “We never received your receipt. Please send another” knowing that the consumer likely doesn’t have a copy, can’t get one, or deems it not worthy of the effort.

See more on my posts A Nikon example of why I *hate* rebates and Nikon fills rebate….but how? or read The Great Rebate Runaround in Bloomberg BusinessWeek which said this back in 2005 of rebate redemption amounts:

In November 2005, BusinessWeek estimated a return rate of 60 percent. Some estimates have been as low as 2%. For example, nearly half of the 100,000 new TiVo subscribers in 2005 did not redeem their $100 rebates, allowing the company to keep $5,000,000 in additional profit.

It’s that throwing obstacles in the way of getting one’s legitimate rebate which is why I believe this MICHELIN® tire promotion rebate is essentially a scam since I complied with 100% of the instructions for submission and never, ever should have received a follow-up email requesting “…a little more information.”

But it’s not just me. Many others have viewed rebates as a “scam” and this crap by manufacturers goes back a long time as this 2003 Slate article on The Great Rebate Scam illustrates.

[Read more…]

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Is PharmacyChecker Worth Using?

UPDATE on Wednesday, April 5, 2017
As I said in the last paragraph in this post, before publishing it I sent an email to Henry Harvey at PharmacyChecker.com. He sent it to Gabriel Levitt, the President who replied today and said, “I don’t blame you for being skeptical of an online pharmacy for a misspelling but I hope we can reassure you that you can and should trust PharmacyChecker. We just published an answer to your question on our new AskPharmacyChecker section.”

My reply was this:

Gabe,

Thanks for the reply. I really appreciate it. Commenting on that post is absolutely appreciated as well.

The misspelling was what kicked off my resolve to investigate further. Four things gave me pause which I will reiterate here:

1) GlobalCareRx registered this site with Privacy Hero, Inc. in NA whom I called…but they wouldn’t divulge who is behind the site. In addition there is no way to discover who is behind this site, if they’re Canadian or out of some hovel in Bangladesh, or some other place.

2) ​Their company address (Global Care Rx, 7-B Pleasant Blvd, Suite 1083, Toronto, ON, Canada, M4T 1K2) is The UPS Store and is a private mailbox (see: http://www.theupsstore.ca/41/ )

3) Their supply chain is unknown. On their site they say, ​”Global Care Rx contracts with licensed pharmacies in Canada, UK, Turkey, India and Mauritius, in order to provide you with the lowest possible prices for your medications.” and “Our international prescription service contracts with licensed pharmacies and fulfillment centers, and you can save up to 80% when purchasing medications from Global Care Rx.”

​The primary concern any consumer of pharmaceuticals has is the efficacy and safety of the drug one is taking. The secondary issue is cost which I’d hoped to address by finding a reputable online Canadian merchant who could help us.

But it’s that primary concern that I wanted to point out:  I have no trust when it comes to Global Care Rx (and actually others on your list, by the way). Turkey? India? Mauritius? Fulfillment centers? An old truck by the curb could be a “fulfillment center.” What are the chances that drugs that come from there have been temperature-controlled? Are not milk-powder or cut with something else?

When I was the VP of Strategic Alliances at Lawson Software (the ERP company) we had a major U.S. drug retail chain that was trying to track vaccines through the supply chain. If vaccines are out of a tight temperature range they become inert and don’t work. It was extremely challenging and the industry worked to solve it and did so. What assurances do I have that sites listed on PharmacyChecker.com aren’t a couple of guys looking to make a quick buck?​

~Steve Borsch

 

Previous Updates

UPDATE at 12:15pm CDT: Still seeking certain legitimate sources and I’m still not comfortable with even CIPA’s criteria for what constitutes a legitimate online pharmacy. Stay tuned for further updates…

UPDATE at 11am CDT: Found a legitimate online pharmacy called Canada Drugs and they are CIPA certified (Canadian International Pharmacy Association – put in just canadadrugs.com to check their validity). You can also look at this CIPA verified online pharmacies page to see all verified ones.

My wife and I are self-employed U.S. citizens and, as someone with individual insurance, we pay retail U.S. pricing for our prescriptions and definitely want to save money! Every year we expend literally hundreds of dollars more per prescription than Canadians do and we intend to shift our purchasing to a legitimate Canadian pharmacy.

One of the online checkers, one that apparently Google and Yahoo use for results, is PharmacyChecker. But I’m not sure I can rely on PharmacyChecker for due diligence on our behalf. Let me explain why.

After coming across posts at PharmacyCheckerBlog I went to PharmacyChecker and put in one of our prescriptions. Up came a listing of “PharmacyChecker Approved” outlets along with pricing which looked amazing.

I randomly chose to go to one of the sites and clicked on GlobalCare Rx. Examining all of their FAQs and poking around the site I grew suspicious (as I always do when there is no “About Us” or who is behind a website) but kept poking around…until I saw on their homepage that step #3 said, “Recieve your medication” with the word “receive” misspelled. There is NO way a legitimate site would allow a misspelled word like that on their homepage (at least my 250+ website clients would not!) so I poked around some more and discovered that:

  • GlobalCareRx registered this site with Privacy Hero, Inc. in NA whom I called…but they wouldn’t divulge who is behind the site.
  • Global Care Rx hosts their website (with thousands of others, no doubt) at Websavers in Canada.

​Having done supply chain software work in a past corporate life, I am VERY aware of the sensitivity to temperature ranges of shipped pharmaceuticals. Not only do any of us need to trust that an online pharmacy isn’t shipping something from some guy’s garage where he put milk powder in some capsules, I need to know that care is given to HOW something is shipped…so it isn’t sitting in some truck overnight freezing and, by the time it’s delivered, the prescription drug is now actually inert and of no use. Fortunately there are some smart people addressing this exact issue.

While the percentage I agree with what Trump doing is about 0%, this is one area where I hope his disruptive-grenade-throwing tactics make an impact.

I just reached out to Henry Harvey at Pharmacy Checker and asked him to please inform me as to why I should trust PharmacyChecker.com for displaying legitimate, trusted and “verified” sources.​ Hopefully he will reply and/or comment here on this post.