A Funny Thing Happened This Weekend

A funny thing happened this weekend. It was cold, and I didn't want to spend a lot of time outside the apartment. Apologies, there is a long, image-free post ahead. There's a lot to read and many links.

In all fairness to Cynthia Chesterfield, I did finally receive a response to my inquiry. Her response never addressed what I set forth in both my email and in my first post about her blog comment. [To recap, I requested the following: the title of her college publication, and for a reply on her university-issued email address.] I'm not posting Cynthia's response here, because it's long and most of it is not relevant to this discussion. [In the interest of not appearing to be misleading, if anyone has questions about the exchange, please contact me privately.]

Suffice it to say that Cynthia was not, as we had so correctly predicted here, doing research for her "college magazine." She isn't even a student! Instead, she was doing research for a college-based publication that her stepson hopes to start. I don't know the name of her stepson's college or the title of the publication. Those facts were omitted from her response.

Remember the whole thing about the initial message originating from an IP at Innovator Corporation? Complete coincidence! While our friend Cynthia admits to being employed by Innovator Corporation, Innovator itself is NOT involved with knitting in any way. Really?

Cynthia, honey, how stupid do you think I am?

Can you explain this? Looks to me like an online craft store with a section devoted to knitting and crochet. Innovator is the entity behind the "Addicted to..." brands; furthermore, addictedtocrafts.com is hosted on rubberstampmanagement.com. We already know that Innovation Corporation is the corporate entity behind rubberstampmanagement.com.

Finally, in an effort to "clear things up" Cynthia closed the letter by including her phone number.

Because my middle name should be "Nancy Drew," I googled the phone number. Well, well, well! The phone number was connected with a few press releases. Here and here. These press releases are for a website, shophandmade.com, that can best be described as an Etsy clone.

The website has also been discussed on Craftster. (Please take a look at this thread. There's an interesting twist found on the bottom of the first page.)

There has also been a lot of discussion about shophandmade.com on Etsy. There are many, many threads to read over there. Reviews are mixed. There was a great deal of confusion over the original wording of shophandmade.com's terms of service. Reading through, it looks like those concerns were addressed appropriately by shophandmade.com's administrators.

This press release describes shophandmade.com further. I'll quote from my favorite paragraph, to save you the trouble of clicking and scrolling:

As sellers flock to open new stores, ShopHandmade has got off to a stupendous start. It has become the `Facebook' of the crafting community. A free platform to buy, sell and network.

"...and network." Having established all of these connections, the fact that Cynthia (or Stacy or Nabanita) would be doing research with members of other crafting networking sites makes even more sense to me. Really, what's wrong with that? Nothing! If she was doing legitimate marketing research for her company (which I believe that she was), that inquiry would be innocent. There's no crime against asking questions. Had Cynthia been honest and upfront about her intentions, and revealed her connections with both Innovator Corporation and shophandmade.com there would be no need for me to post this.

My sole point is that her approach was sneaky and misleading, her response even more so, and I'm calling her on it. I don't want to deal with a company that works like this, and maybe you don't either.

Finally, finally, finally, DO NOT confuse shophandmade.com with shop-handmade.com. Shop-handmade.com redirects to winkelf.com. I can't find much information about shop-handmade.com or winkelf.com but I do not believe that the two are related to shophandmade.com. All three domains were registered with go-daddy.com, but I'm not sure if that's significant in any way. Maybe someone with more technical expertise than I have can dig into that a bit more.

 

This is awesome! Ha ha! I do PR for a living, and my name and number are on plenty of media releases. She should have known that once you're in this business anonymity ceases to exist and that your every action reflects on your company when you are supposed to act as its credible spokesperson. Also? As someone in a tech-based business you really ought to grow a clue about how easily your every move can be tracked online!!

Please, other readers, do not confuse what this woman has been doing with legitimate, ethical communications practices. She is the type of "spin doctor" who gives the rest of us a bad name. Deceit and lies are NOT standard procedure for the large majority of PR practitioners.

You are Nancy Drew -- hilarious. Or maybe Velma - she's pretty smart, too.

I applaud your "Nancy Drew Awesomeness"! :-)

Lies and manipulation and more lies. These are the types of people who thrive on spam and fakery. I cannot convey the full weight of my disgust for such practices. Ploy after ploy, appealing to emotion, trying to find the right "in" to elicit a reaction. *spits*

Thanks for posting the follow-up to all this. It's been fascinating. (OK, marketing is a hobby of mine, and I like seeing examples of what to do as much as what *not* to do, like this.)

WOW. In order to stand a chance in this business, you've got to be honest. Poor gal, doesn't realize how much bad press she's getting for her company! Kudos for going so in-depth on this. I hope these people get the point at the end of the day and stay their silliness.

@Anna

if that company truly deceives their customers about the frontpage status of their products, then apparently the whole company isn't really into honesty...

Wow. Does this woman realize who she's up against? I saw that your thread on Ravelry now has 300+ responses!

This sounds like the most recent episode of the Office where bungling Michael Scott attempts to do some spying on a competitor for corporate.

Nancy Drew, indeed. The plot continues to thicken. This is definitely a cautionary tale on how NOT to solicit feedback from a potential customer or member of a community. I don't understand why she feels she needs to somehow cover up the reasons she's doing this research. As you point out, as someone who works for a crafting-related company, it's perfectly reasonable to do market research into her competition. Making up stories about it simply makes the whole thing unnecessarily fishy. Good detective work!

Thanks for the update. I'd been wondering if that woman ever got back to you.

And well done on the detective work! Seems like that woman never considered that knitters might be smart enough to smell her lies and knowledgeable enough to find the truth. Silly woman.

Wow...... I applaud your tenacity. I would have just chucked it but your approach is so much more interesting. Good for you!

Sounds like a lot of fun knitting time spent on a less than scrupulous individual! Sorry you or anyone has to go through it. Apparently people mistake enjoyment on non motorized things as a substitution for BRAINS! Nothing could be further from the truth. You go girl!

Your first name should be Nancy Drew. I have no problem with honest market research. Key word: honest. Don't lie and be sneaky. WTF.

Maybe you should switch careers & become an investigator of some sort? I love this!

Wow - I'm impressed. I do corporate research and what you did sounds like my job description. It's funny how much companies go to to hide things but there is always a trail!!

Dear SK~

Thanks for pursuing beyond my attention span for doing my *own* research. You've proven my original hypothesis (formed when I initially received the email from Ms. Chesterfield): something wicked this way comes. Now I know why my 'this is wonky' hackles were raised.

Cheers, Velma

This is CRAZY! Why lie and ruin your company's rep? Keep up the good work Nancy Drew!

Next you will be telling us she doesn't have a son in college...it's a daughter in diapers (lol)

ha! this is fantastic! really, honesty is the best policy.

This turned up on a beading forum and I just wanted to comment on the godaddy note. They sell domains exceedingly cheap. If you buy a domain from them, you can get a free, very basic, webhosting site. From the bottom of their homepage:

GoDaddy.com is the world's No. 1 ICANN-accredited domain name registrar for .COM, .NET, .ORG, .INFO, .BIZ and .US domain extensions. Source: Name Intelligence, Inc. 2006


Who knows if they're still the No. 1, but I wouldn't count companies having domains through godaddy as a clue.

(I'm the webmaster for a very small all-volunteer charity and we run our domain from godaddy.)

 

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