Companies mentioned in AskMe post to AskMe? June 3, 2014 4:48 PM   Subscribe

What's the rule for comments like this, wherein a company mentioned in an AskMe purportedly registers an account and responds?
posted by dfriedman to Etiquette/Policy at 4:48 PM (56 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

These are pretty rare so there's no real "rule" about it. It certainly got flagged a bunch and showed up on our radar soon after it went up.

It answers the question, they aren't hiding who they are, and on rare occasions when this happens it's usually pretty helpful to get a definitive answer from a company involved in a question, even if it seems like someone was being paid to answer it in a customer support type capacity.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:49 PM on June 3, 2014 [8 favorites]


Man, wouldn't it be awesome if Google did this?
posted by Toekneesan at 4:54 PM on June 3, 2014 [17 favorites]


they do fail to mention that those types of companies are pretty much always scuzzy and prey on those they see as vulnerable. it seems off topic to tell them that their business model is grotesque, though, so i didn't comment.
posted by nadawi at 4:56 PM on June 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


"After fees are deducted"

Burn it with fire.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:00 PM on June 3, 2014 [17 favorites]


Well at least somebody can find us on Google.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:04 PM on June 3, 2014 [113 favorites]


Why in the world did they put their own comment in quotation marks?
posted by LionIndex at 5:08 PM on June 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


"Lionindex, I'm not sure why they did that, but it definitely seems weird. Maybe they took the answer directly from their FAQ or something."
posted by Literaryhero at 5:12 PM on June 3, 2014 [22 favorites]


Why do I feel like I need to take a shower after reading that comment?
posted by desjardins at 5:12 PM on June 3, 2014 [17 favorites]


Cease and desist order against Republic Bank & Trust Co.
posted by unliteral at 5:15 PM on June 3, 2014 [9 favorites]


*HEAD ASPLODES*
posted by cjorgensen at 5:23 PM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


If this MeTa is answered, I have to agree that "refund transfers" are sleazy. I don't know where they came from, but it's all too easy for people to unintentionally request them when filing taxes online.

It wouldn't be so bad if some of the tax programs didn't make them damn near irreversible or if they didn't try to hide the fact that it costs money. Can't imagine how many unsuspecting people get swindled and just say "fuck it." That is, if they even realize they lost the extra $20 that could have been used to make sure their kids actually get to eat every night of that week.

Care to comment on any of these call-outs, Republic Bank, or should I just have my mother contact you at 888-676-2056?
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 5:24 PM on June 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


Hey, it's always 5 more bucks for the team.
posted by travelwithcats at 5:29 PM on June 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


I would wager that the quotation marks are there because someone at the company found the thread, emailed the PR department, got a statement wordsmithed, and then forgot to take the wrapper off when they posted it.
posted by darksasami at 5:31 PM on June 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


i saw that question this morning, didn't respond because the other guys/gals had already jumped on it.

just read republic bank's statement. what a mighty, steaming load of horseshit. they cited speed, security and convenience. in the ordinary course of events, the state and federal taxing authorities mail you a check. they want to get that check first and deduct fees before they cut you your own check.

how is this faster, more secure and more convenient? it sounds like you have to pay for a slower process which is less secure and less convenient. nuke 'em from orbit, it's the only way to be sure.
posted by bruce at 5:40 PM on June 3, 2014 [16 favorites]


So they're writing a comment on a website admitting that their business is wack as hell.

Got it.
posted by medusa at 5:49 PM on June 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


Mods, please repost the deleted racy comments that Republic Bank made today in the Mr. Leather FPP.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:04 PM on June 3, 2014 [20 favorites]


hey jesse, america's first leather bank could probe a potentially lucrative niche!
posted by bruce at 6:07 PM on June 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


"Please have your mother contact us at 1-800-STINK-RING and we'll be happy to look into the matter Have a great day."
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:22 PM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Awful nice of them to slither up out of the sewer to answer the question directly.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:35 PM on June 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


They can probably give Matt a good deal on processing donations.
posted by arcticseal at 6:48 PM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


I figured that they should at least get a chance to comment here.

(Dry fly dangle, that.)
posted by klangklangston at 6:52 PM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Lionindex, I'm not sure why they did that, but it definitely seems weird. Maybe they took the answer directly from their FAQ or something."

- Todd Lokken
posted by shakespeherian at 7:28 PM on June 3, 2014 [7 favorites]


I wondered what mefi had done to Todd Lokken's googleability, and the first link is A++++ WOULD DEFINITELY LICK AGAIN!!!

Poor guy.
posted by desjardins at 7:52 PM on June 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


Okay - that was with me logged into Chrome. Without being logged in, that is the 3rd result. Poor guy. The first result is his LinkedIn profile, so apparently we haven't impacted his employment.
posted by desjardins at 7:55 PM on June 3, 2014


Why do I feel like I need to take a shower after reading that comment?

Well I had a visceral reaction to the stock photo of the mom and daughter on their refund transfers page because it's the same one used on my work's horribly designed employee benefits website.

But there's even more than that.

The Refund Transfer Fee differs by disbursement method:

$9.95 Money ClipSM Visa® Prepaid Card
$19.95 Direct Deposit
$31.95 Bank Check

...

Customers without bank accounts can choose a bank check with many low cost options for check cashing available or a prepaid card which often provides many benefits of a traditional bank account.

So I pay you $32 to cut me a check, and then I pay to cash the check? Surely there's a better way!

...

Customers will be charged a $9.95 Refund Transfer Fee and can avoid expensive check cashing fees with the Money Clip Visa Prepaid Card!

Sweeet...

oh shit

Monthly Fee ........ $3.00
ATM Fee (non-Republic Bank) ... $2.50
ATM Balance Inquiry Fee ... $1.00
ATM Denial Fee .. $1.00
Signature/PIN Purchase Denial Fee .. $1.00
Over the Counter Withdrawal Fee (OTC) ..... $5.00
Replacement/Reissue Card Fee ..... $10.00
Bill Pay Stop Payment Fee ...... $25.00
Express Delivery Fee for Replacement Card …….. $35.00


"Republic Bank Tax Refund Solutions, a division of Republic Bank & Trust Company," you "suck."
posted by payoto at 8:10 PM on June 3, 2014 [27 favorites]


Geez, calm down, people. It's a pretty straightforward response to the question, not some horrible thing to get squicked out about.
posted by planetesimal at 8:26 PM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


an oldie but a goodie: Secrets of the Tax-Prep Business. Looks like "Republic Bank" is out of the loan business and is into the processing business.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:33 PM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


I love how they registered, listed their website and everything, posted the comment - and no one has responded in-thread, favorited the comment or ANYTHING. It's like a whole village is assiduously avoiding the big turd that someone left on Main Street, right in front of the Post Office.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:08 PM on June 3, 2014 [19 favorites]


You'd expect that this user would answer questions they are qualified to.
posted by unliteral at 11:18 PM on June 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


How curious, unliteral. They must not know profile pages aren't indexed by Google and figured they'd pay $5 for a profile backlink?
posted by Gordafarin at 1:43 AM on June 4, 2014


I always get the impression that companies put stuff in "quotation" marks so that later they can't be sued for lying about something. Like, you're supposed to read it out with air quotes and raised eyebrows to indicate you're obviously being sarcastic.

No no we never said that was real actual chocolate sauce in the donut, we said it was "chocolate" sauce. We never said the iPad was free, we said it was "free". We never said customers choose a Refund Transfer for a variety of reasons including convenience, speed and security, we said "customers" choose a "Refund Transfer" for a variety of "reasons" including "convenience, speed and security".
I'm imagining famous attorney-at-law Lionel Hutz arguing this in court btw.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:34 AM on June 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


It's a pretty straightforward response to the question, not some horrible thing to get squicked out about.

It's also sort of obscuring what a predatory enterprise it is, and it does it in an AskMe answer, where the rest of us can't (or aren't supposed to) jump in to point that out. We can't go into that answer and point out the issues with their "service".

If there's not a prohibition on promoting your own goods or services on AskMe, there ought to be. Relationship issues? Hey, I always find that I think more clearly if I take the time to take a break with a Pepsi (tm) Blue!
posted by tyllwin at 7:00 AM on June 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


It's also sort of obscuring what a predatory enterprise it is, and it does it in an AskMe answer, where the rest of us can't (or aren't supposed to) jump in to point that out. We can't go into that answer and point out the issues with their "service".

This is an issue that comes up every once in a while, but there is leeway in Ask for pointing out that a previous answer is wrong or not a good solution to the issue at hand. You just have to explain why it's wrong and not just say "nuh-uh!". I would expect that something like bruce's comment here:

what a mighty, steaming load of horseshit. they cited speed, security and convenience. in the ordinary course of events, the state and federal taxing authorities mail you a check. they want to get that check first and deduct fees before they cut you your own check.

would be a perfectly solid answer to the question, largely because it's actually explaining what Republic Bank actually does and why it's a scammy kind of service, maybe minus the horseshit characterization.
posted by LionIndex at 7:24 AM on June 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


They are sleeze-bags, of course, but their answer doesn't hide that -- so I have to grudgingly say that it qualifies as a Best Answer. And so does "This is a beyond shady thing to do."
posted by wenestvedt at 7:55 AM on June 4, 2014



If there's not a prohibition on promoting your own goods or services on AskMe, there ought to be.


Why ? I mean, authors have shown up in discussions of their work, and sometimes even family members show up to talk about products.

I think if the comment is otherwise acceptable, then there is no problem. If the comment is problematic, then it should be problematic no matter the source.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:59 AM on June 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


Wow, this could open up a whole new era of sockpuppetry.
posted by box at 8:15 AM on June 4, 2014


unliteral: "You'd expect that this user would answer questions they are qualified to."

That is really wierd. Not accusing or anything but how did you even find that? No comments/favorites/nothin.

Also Open Air Lifestyles sounds like something I shouldn't google at work.
posted by Big_B at 8:21 AM on June 4, 2014


"tax refund solutions". heh.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 8:22 AM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I would wager that the quotation marks are there because someone at the company found the thread, emailed the PR department, got a statement wordsmithed, and then forgot to take the wrapper off when they posted it.

...and left a typo in it.
posted by smackfu at 8:29 AM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


In 2010, I made a post about Regenerative Sciences, a company that was offering a controversial stem cell therapy (Regenexx) to treat joint injuries and bone damage in defiance of the FDA. The head of the company, a Dr. Centano, joined MeFi and commented in the thread. (Something he apparently had done that on other online forums.) It was interesting to watch -- a few knowledgable mefites went toe-to-toe with him. I don't see the downside to the subjects of FPPs chiming in.

In case anyone is curious, in the ensuing years the FDA sued Regenerative Sciences and won. A court order barred Dr. Centano and two of his colleagues from performing the procedure in the US. They lost an appeal this past February.
posted by zarq at 8:43 AM on June 4, 2014 [8 favorites]


It's also sort of obscuring what a predatory enterprise it is, and it does it in an AskMe answer, where the rest of us can't (or aren't supposed to) jump in to point that out. We can't go into that answer and point out the issues with their "service".

The very next answer points out exactly how predatory and icky their service is. It also does a good job of answering the question and all in all the system seems to be working just fine. The ask.me system that is, I can't speak for the tax refund system that got crankyrogalsky's mum dragged into this.
posted by shelleycat at 9:54 AM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's basically always okay to make a restrained counter-statement to something like that in a thread. Can't be a drag-ass throwdown argument is usually more the issue.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:56 AM on June 4, 2014


adding to EndsOfInvention (3:34 AM)...

when you read the label on the doughnut, beware of the difference between "chocolate" and "chocolatey". they are not the same thing.
posted by bruce at 10:01 AM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Dutch companies have 'web care teams' nowadays. This means that they'll respond to complaints made through Twitter (and probably other platforms, but Twitter's the one I've seen mentioned) by posting Tweets of their own trying to remedy the problem. It's clear to everyone involved that the people responding to the complaints are doing this in a professional capacity, and there's also an expectation that complaints will be responded to in this way. (I'm sure this is going on in other countries as well, but I don't have any direct experience with that.)

Cases such as this one might just be examples of someone not understanding the difference between Twitter and Metafilter.
posted by rjs at 10:39 AM on June 4, 2014


Geez, calm down, people. It's a pretty straightforward response to the question, not some horrible thing to get squicked out about.

The response is absolutely straightforward.

What these Merchants of Slime and Scuzzery (new band name?) actually do, however, is a full-on straight up scam. Which is something to get squicked about because innocent/trusting/naive people are being taken advantage of. And I'm pretty sure we can all agree that is a Bad Thing.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:32 PM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised that Republic Bank hasn't joined in the discussion of erotic tax return fanfiction in the truecrypt thread. Seems like that would be right up their alley.
posted by medusa at 1:36 PM on June 4, 2014


I learned all about this after opera class at Simpson College.
posted by 4ster at 3:34 PM on June 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Not accusing or anything but how did you even find that?
Searched for LLC in user names.
posted by unliteral at 4:24 PM on June 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


Cunning.
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:52 PM on June 4, 2014


Huh.
posted by payoto at 3:31 PM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


On the upside: All those companies find us via goooooogle. Maybe not the search per se, goooooogle alerts or something?
posted by travelwithcats at 3:35 PM on June 5, 2014


Yeah, that was a lot of not-really-answering-anything text along with a more direct reference to the cost the asker had mentioned. They can try again with something less tonedeaf if they want.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:52 PM on June 5, 2014


On the upside: All those companies find us via goooooogle. Maybe not the search per se, goooooogle alerts or something?

I think the site notices the increase in traffic and clickthroughs coming from metafilter.
posted by payoto at 4:45 PM on June 5, 2014


wow, it really seems like we're getting a shit sandwich from google here. Less real person traffic, but more StupidPromotionsLLC traffic?

ugh.
posted by emptythought at 5:12 PM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


They're not promotions, it's a response from a less-than-stellar company to a legitimate question. Just think of the opportunities! $5 per new user, with none of the hassle with a real, active user down the line. That's free money, MetaFilter!

MeFites: we need to make better use of AskMe as a potential revenue generator. That means more questions about individual companies, which should get more one-time use accounts signed up! /HAMBURGER
posted by filthy light thief at 7:58 AM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


You don't like it? No, I don't like it.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 11:57 AM on June 6, 2014


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