Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Look Behind the Curtain

Business is always interesting, especially when it involves the internet, but I am sometimes amazed at the level to which some people will stoop.

I had lunch with an associate Monday at a fantastic restaurant in downtown San Francisco, with a view of the Bay Bridge. The food was excellent, service was superb, and it was a tremendous value. But if you believed the comments of some (anonymous) posters on an internet forum, you would think it was the worst restaurant on earth!

How to explain the disconnect? Easy. Competitors of this restaurant posted lies to an internet message board in an attempt to discredit the new kid on the block. They felt threatened by the new competitor and rather than step up their game by increasing the value they offer their customers, they instead chose to lie and deceive.

In the long run, the truth always comes out. Frauds are exposed and the business that provides the best value to their customers will succeed. Badmouthing your competition, and especially libel and defamation, are guaranteed to come back and bite you in the ass (think Pit Bull).

As a careful shopper, consumer and web user, you must ALWAYS consider the author of any internet posts. Who is really behind those words? What hidden motives do they have?

Relentless Improvement, and me personally, have sometimes come under attack by anonymous posters in internet forums. In particular, one poster impersonates a medical doctor (demands for proof are met with obfuscation and stonewalling) and is co-owner of a competing supplement business. In reality, him/they/whatever were discovered and exposed several years ago after posting on a very reputable forum while trying to hide their true identity and financial interests of their posts (they own a supplement business). See this Edward Younan/Unique Nutrition thread.

As you Look Behind the Curtain, you find a pattern of deceit, lies and outright fraud.

Now, let's look at facts:

RI owns 271 domains at last count. Descriptive names such as:

Also keywords such as:

Does Relentless Improvement market aggressively on the internet? You bet.

Our domains are always acquired on the open market. Any person that considered them to be of value could have purchased them before we did. The US Patent and Trademark public database is carefully examined before a domain is acquired. If there is no record, or a filing was previously attempted and abandoned, then that word or combination of words is available for use.

An abandoned trademark filing is established precedent that the original filer did not consider it of sufficient value to complete. A declination due to the generic nature of the name, again, is precedent that the words are free for use by all.

Any domain close to questionable is carefully reviewed by our legal counsel, who specializes in Intellectual Property rights issues, and Internet Law. Upon the "all clear" we then use that domain as we see fit.

Our live domains are clearly identified in a WHOIS look-up as belonging to Relentless Improvement/Pete Hitesman. We don't hide our interest in the domain as some people do (why do they hide?). Our domains are always clearly associated with Relentless Improvement, with our header on the pages. This is clear, honest disclosure.

We have never been served with any legal papers/suits in regards to our website verbiage or domains that we own. Anybody claiming otherwise is a liar.

The bottom line is clear: we operate aggressively, legally, and with full public disclosure of product quality, sponsorships, and internet presence. If you, as a customer, or potential customer, have any concerns, or desire additional facts regarding this post I welcome, and urge you, to contact me directly via phone or email.

Oh, the moral of the restaurant story? I went home and submitted my own online review, presenting the opinion of a real diner and patron. Not the fabrications of someone with hidden conflicts of interest. I set the truth free, and it was exhilarating.

Caveat Emptor my friends.

Pete Hitesman
Relentless Improvement