Adaptive Affinity have started threatening bloggers!

If your blog has received a threatening letter from Adaptive Affinity please leave details in the comments section below.

In 2007 I bought some business cards from Vistaprint. After that purchase clubprem.com and highstreetmax.com started taking money from my visa without my knowledge. Highstreetmax.com and clubprem.com are both owned by Adaptive Affinity. The total amount taken was ?252.05. I did some digging on the internet and published my findings in this post http://www.hubbers.com/index.php/i-got-scammed-by-vistaprint-and-adaptive-marketing-and-adaptive-affinity-ltd-and-amazon/.

Well it turns out the honest people at Adaptive Affinity don’t like my blog post so they have threatened me in a nameless and unspecific way. what’s more they have threatened other bloggers with similar letters!

Does anyone have any suggestions on what I should do?

Adaptive Affinity’s nameless letter is pasted below.

Dear Sirs,

RE: DEFAMATION/LIBELLOUS STATEMENTS ? I GOT SCAMMED BY VISTAPRINT, Adaptive
Marketing, Adaptive Affinity Ltd, CLUBPREM.COM, HIGHSTREETMAX.COM and
AMAZON!!!

http://www.hubbers.com/index.php/i-got-scammed-by-vistaprint-and-adaptive-marketing-and-adaptive-affinity-ltd-and-amazon/

http://www.hubbers.com/index.php/category/scams/

We are writing on behalf of Adaptive Affinity Ltd and refer to the webpage listed above. This web page contains a number of allegations regarding Adaptive Affinity and its partners that are inaccurate and defamatory in nature. It is our view the contents of the blog is causing and could continue to cause
serious reputational harm, not only to Adaptive Affinity, but other organisations to which it also refers.

The accusations made on this web page are simply untrue and no proof is offered to validate these claims. Here is a sample list of false and/or inaccurate statements made on this web page which warrant its immediate removal:
1. I did some further investigation…and found that the internet servers hosting http://www.clubprem.com/ and http://www.highstreetmax.com also hosts all of these dodgy websites also owned by Adaptive Marketing.
2. Strangely the call centre that I got through to in Jamaica were more than happy to refund all of my money in less than a week. (Adaptive Affinity?s call centre is in the UK and not in Jamaica).
3. Basically they steal as much money as possible and refund the people who kick up a fuss. I imagine most people ask for a refund at the end.
4. The following domains have been added since I wrote this post in September which means that the scam is alive and well.
5. Today I realized that I too fell victim of such scam and was ripped off by clubprem.com

These are but a few of the statements that have been made and there are many more on the page that are offensive.

The language used on the page, both by you and comments left by third parties is unacceptable and suggest to the ordinary user that the practices of Adaptive Affinity are unethical or at worst illegal. The entire web page in itself is an unfair attack on Adaptive Affinity and its partners. These are legitimate businesses with legitimate business practices.

Although the burden of proof lies with you to prove the truth in these statements made, as proof to you (and not for publication elsewhere) that Adaptive Affinity is a legitimate business we can confirm that less than
one half a percent of the millions of consumers marketed to and the many thousands of members enrolled in Adaptive Affinity?s membership programs complain about their memberships.

Adaptive Affinity has always followed high standards of responsible corporate practice. We regularly undertake quality controls to ensure our respective business practices comply with or exceed industry standards and applicable law. These practices extend throughout the organisation. We rebut the assertions made in this Blog and accordingly we request that it is removed with immediate effect.

As the primary publisher and the person who exercises direct editorial control over what is published we would like to point out that you are responsible for all the posting on your site. This matter can still be resolved without incident if you act very quickly to our satisfaction now. However, if you fail to do so, we reserve all our legal rights and remedies in respect of this matter. We also reserve all our rights and remedies (in respect of all relevant posts) if you are involved with any other posts about us or if there is any other publication made as a result of your posts.

Please respond to this letter by return and in any event within 7 days of the date on which it is sent with full details of the actions and the timeframe you will be taking to urgently rectify this matter. Your cooperation in this matter is appreciated.

Yours faithfully

Adaptive Affinity
Cavendish House,
369 Burnt Oak Broadway, Edgware.
HA8 5AW. United Kingdom
t: +44 (0) 8701 432 343
f: +44 (0) 8701 432 344
contact@adaptiveaffinity.com

Update 20 September 2010

Adaptive Affinity have also sent the same letter to my web host in the hope that they will stop hosting my site.

If your blog has received a threatening letter from Adaptive Affinity please leave details in the comments section below.

Amazon’s commission to sellers

I am currently reducing clutter around my flat by selling my old DVDs and books on Amazon’s marketplace. Today I sold ‘Die another Day’ for 13p. Normally this works out to be marginally profitable as Amazon give you more for postage that items cost to post. But on this particular item Amazon charged almost all of the sale price and the postage as commission. The breakdown is as follows:

Buyer’s Price: ?0.13
Shipping: ?1.21
Amazon Commission: ?-1.04
Your Earnings: ?0.30

Amazon states:

Individuals selling at Marketplace pay a GBP 0.86 per item completion fee, plus a closing fee of 17.25% of the sales price (11.5% for Electronics & Photo items) for each item sold.

Which seems steep and it makes it unprofitable to sell (or buy) really cheap DVDs or books on Amazon. This is a real shame because in the past I have bought a few 1p (plus postage) books from Amazon.

The postage for this DVD would cost 66p so I have cancelled the order and now the DVD is going to one of the charity shops on Finchley Road which is a much better idea. I guess in this way Amazon are doing a good thing. By making it unprofitable to sell the nickel and dime stuff they make it much more likely that old books etc end up in charity Shops.

Amazon have also built this excellent site for swapping books called ReadItSwapIt.

The New Zealand Herald ran a story about the All Black tickets markup scam

The original post is here

A friend helped me get my blog post brought to the attention of the New Zealand Herald. They ran this story titled Fans put hard word on NZRU over agent’s ticket charges on the day of the final autumn international against England.

The thing that got me about the article is that when Ms Faisandier from STIL was asked where all the money went she couldn’t say.

Ms Faisandier said she could not say what percentage of the money went to the rugby union.

She told me on email that it was “about 50/50”. Strange she wasn’t prepared to make the same claim to a national newspaper.

The other thing that struck me was that when NZRU were asked they didn’t have a clue either! I wish we could all run our businesses in such a haphazard manner where letting millions of dollars of potential revenue slip through our fingers wasn’t such a big issue.

NZRU commercial manager Paul Dalton said he could not say what percentage of the money gained by STIL came back to the rugby union.

This quote astounded me because the Herald also had this story where they indicate that the NZRU financial situation isn’t that strong at the moment.

The NZRU is on track to post a small profit this year, a much improved situation from the one predicted six months ago.

You’d think that if they were that broke they’d be wondering if they could have had some of the millions of dollars that have been added to All Black tickets in the UK over the last few years.

Oh yeah and we crushed England 32 points to 6 so it was an excellent day to be a Kiwi.

All Blacks 32 England 6 Twickenham 2008

Brown’s cover-up has begun

This is so true. Gordon Brown got into government in 1997 on the promise that he would bring an end to destructive booms and busts in the property market.

Eleven years as Chancellor (the money guy) and Prime Minister later he has presided over the biggest boom of them all. And now the evidence of his initial bold claims is starting to disappear from government websites. Shameful.

I am reading this book that explains it all:

Boom Bust: House Prices, Banking and the Depression of 2010

100% mark-up on All Black tickets brought from Sports Tickets International Limited

If your tickets have been marked up by STIL please leave the details in the comments section at the bottom of this post.

Cam, Russ, The Giant Nun and Hubbers

Earlier this year Grant, Cam, Russ and I purchased tickets to the Ireland, Wales and England rugby tests against the All Black in the UK this November.

The purchase was made through Sports Tickets International Limited who are, according to their site, the Officially Licensed Match Ticket Company of the New Zealand Rugby Union (“NZRU”).

The total amount that my Visa was charged was 922.85 but when I picked up my tickets yesterday the face value of all 12 tickets came to a meagre ?632. This means that STIL added on a whopping 46% to the price of the tickets!

That is one hell of a mark-up!

This table shows the breakdown.

Test Face value for 4 tickets STIL cut Total
Cardiff ?200 92 ?292
Twickenham ?164 ?75.44 ?239.44
Dublin ?268 ?123.28 ?391.28
?632 ?290.72 ?922.72

Naturally I have emailed them to find out what is going on.

STIL have replied

STIL have added a handling fee to the face value of each ticket. This fee covers the cost of making this facility available (including website and software charges, travel, administration, wages and processing fees), and as a result the face value of the tickets will not equate with the amount charged. Any income, which remains at the end of this project, once all costs have been paid, will be returned to the NZRU to assist with the development of Rugby in New Zealand.

I have copied and pasted the below from the Terms & Conditions Page on the STIL website, hope this helps.

http://www.stilrugby.wb.gs/book-tickets.html

How much money do STIL make?

If we assume that our tickets are the average price then STIL is making roughly ?25 per ticket. If we also assume that they have 5000 tickets per game to sell then they will have 25000 tickets which means that they will take ?625,000 or 1,766,519 New Zealand Dollars (today’s exchange rate is 2.826) to perform the duties mentioned above.

I am pretty sure that I could do it all for less than that.

I have emailed them again and asked them how much money is returned to NZRU for the development of NZ rugby.

STIL have replied again. In answer to the preceding question they said:

The breakdown is about 50/50

So NZRU get nearly ONE MILLION NEW ZEALAND DOLLARS for the development of NZ rugby which is good. And it costs STIL nearly ONE MILLION NEW ZEALAND DOLLARS to sell Kiwis in the UK tickets to 5 games of rugby.

So I asked STIL

So you are saying that it costs nearly one million New Zealand dollars to provide tickets for New Zealand fans for 5 games of rugby?

And they threatened me with this email:

Carl

I am not sure where you are getting your figures from and where you are going with this, but we will not be following any further line of communication.

If you like, we will take you off our database, and recommend you purchase your tickets direct from the host unions in future.

Kind regards

Margaret Faisandier
Sports Tickets International Ltd
The Official match Ticket Licensee of the NZ Rugby Union

You know what I am getting at Margaret Faisandier, you are profiteering from loyal All Black fans!!!

What should be done?

Out of respect for the loyal fans and for the good of rugby in New Zealand in the future I recommend NZRU take the following actions:

1. NZRU should have a regular (two yearly?) and transparent tender process for the job of selling UK tour tickets to New Zealanders in Europe. This will minimise the cost and maximise any revenue for NZRU.

2. NZRU should make a clear statement about what percentage is to be added to the tickets and how much of that money goes to the development of New Zealand rugby. I am sure that most Kiwi fans won’t mind contributing to the ABs via their tickets especially given the economic pressures NZ faces from European teams. The key thing is that NZRU should be open and honest about it so that the fans don’t feel scammed or ripped off.

STOP THE PRESS!

A friend of a friend (NZ is a small country) helped me get this issue brought to the attention of New Zealand’s biggest daily newspaper. They ran this story titled Fans put hard word on NZRU over agent’s ticket charges on the eve of the All Black match against England at Twickenham.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens from here. NZRU clearly don’t know what is going on in their own back yard and millions of dollars have been wasted over the last few years leaving fans feeling bitter and ripped off (see the comments below). What will NZRU do?

Update for 2009

My friend from university got two England v All Blacks tickets for Twickenham from STIL Rugby and he paid ?100 for each.

When the tickets arrived they had a face value of ?50 each and they were in the worst part of the stadium!

How can this be viewed as anything other than a massive rip-off of loyal fans?

Update for All Black tickets in 2010

All Blacks autumn international tickets have gone on sale through STIL. The cheapest tickets available to the worst seats at Twickenham were roughly &#pound;100 meaning that STIL are still adding a 100% markup to All Black tickets. The STIL website terms and conditions now says this:

STIL have added a handling fee to the face value of each ticket. This fee covers the cost of making this facility available (including website and software charges, travel, administration, wages and processing fees), and as a result the face value of the tickets will not equate with the amount charged. Any income, which remains at the end of this project, once all costs have been paid, will be returned to the NZRU to assist with the development of Rugby in New Zealand.

But there still isn’t any indication as to how much of the hundreds of thousands of dollars added to All Black tickets by STIL are returned to the NZRU to assist with the development of Rugby in New Zealand.

Surely there should be an open and competitive tendering process to maximise the return for NZRU?

Petition to stop Amazon circulating VistaPrint advertising material

I have set up an online petition stating that Amazon should stop circulating advertising material for VistaPrint. Hopefully if we get enough signatures Amazon will stop doing business with these scammers and we will get them where it hurts the most – their bank account!

http://www.petitiononline.com/stop1111/petition.html

If you have been scammed by VistaPrint please include details of how much money they took from you in the comments section at the bottom of this post.

Helen Clark and Helen Clark

Last Friday I had the honour of being best man at my Kiwi mate Bundy’s wedding to an English girl called Laura Clark. As part of my duties I had to read the telegrams from people who couldn’t make the wedding. One of them included this cracker paragraph referring to the current very unpopular New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark:

First off, my apologies that I couldn’t make it up there to talk you out of it. You see, Helen Clarke likes my money. So you can blame her for my lack of funds, and the need to bypass time off so I can work even harder to get my own share of the pie. Vote National.

You know people are really feeling it when they start giving voting advice in telegrams to be read on the other side of the planet.

What was even funnier was that the bride’s mum’s first name is Helen (for her last name see above). The Kiwis in the crowd were pissing themselves.

I’ll write more on the wedding and add some photos in the next few days.

Packed May bank holiday weekend

Rachel and I had a packed bank holiday weekend.

On the Saturday we rode along the Regents Canal to the London river boat festival.

Canal cavalcade

On Sunday we spent 8 hours on England’s wonderful railway service (making a journey that should have been 3 hours) to Monkey World in Dorset. Monkey World is sanctuary for monkeys that are saved from all over the planet. Some were kept in research labs for in one meter cages by themselves for year after for year. Others were pets that got too big to be pets any more.

Chimp enclosure Monkey World, Dorset

Finally on the Monday off work we took our bike out to the country and covered them in mud. My bike the Canondale “Road Warrior” did okay in the muddy conditions despite it’s skinny road wheels.

Bundy, Laura and Hubbers

Half way through the day the front tire split and I got two consecutive punctures which I fixed while everyone else was enjoying their lunches.

Fixing a flat tire

All in all a packed and fun May bank holiday weekend in England :)

All Blacks 76, Italy 14, French 2 mobiles and a wallet

McDonalds World Cup menu
This is a photo from McDonalds’ special Rugby World Cup menu. I would suggest adding the following menu items. A low calorie bag of hot air for Australia. A very blunt instrument (probably a spoon) for South Africa. Something bland and disappointing for England. A bag of sour grapes for Stephen Jones to eat. A doormat for France after their first performance. And nothing dangerous that the Kiwis might choke on.

We touched down in Marseilles to the amazing news that Argentina had convincingly beaten the hosts France in the opening match. This is shocking news as the team that comes second in the so called pool of death will head to Cardiff to face the All Blacks. France ideally wanted to delay this encounter until Paris for the final where they would have had home ground advantage. Now they are playing for their lives and have to beat Ireland just to have a chance to progress out of the pool.

It took us a couple of hours to clear customs and clear up the booking mess made by our Etap hotel after they gave out rooms out to anyone and everyone who asked for them before we arrived. Thankfully we asked for a room from another couple and all was sorted out.

By the time we caught up with Russ, Russ, Cam and Phil who took an earlier flight they were well smashed. I took a great video of Phil ripping of a locked drinks fridge. There was little chance of getting caught as the French bar owners were drowning their sorrows.

Up at 11 the next day the nine of us decided to walk to the game as it was a very sunny day. Stopped for a beer on the way. When we got to the stadium we settled in and Cam spent forty euros on alcohol free beer for everyone. That was nice of him.

The Italians made an early mistake by ignoring the Haka. The snub must have really ticked off the All Blacks because it only took them 68 seconds to score their first try. Eighty minutes later the Italians had let in 10 more tries and the All Blacks took the game 64 – 14. Allowing the Italians one intercept try and another late one off a poorly judged kick in our own 22. The intercept was the worrying one as it was an intercept by Australia that put us out of the last world cup and we seem to give one away every game these days.

After the game we had a couple of beers (with alcohol) and a meal for the first court session. After only 24 hours on tour we had enough fines to finish off a bottle of Lemoncini between the 9 of us.

The Boys with Brad Butterworth OBE

An all night drinking session followed. Later on in the evening we even met Brad Butterworth OBE the Kiwi yachtsman who won us the Americas cup and then went to work for another syndicate and won it back off us. It didn’t make him very popular at home. He was very approachable and seemed like a good guy.

I went home around one or two and managed to dislocate my thumb on the way. Luckily it popped straight back in. Some of the boys who got in around five were warned by friendly locals that they were drinking with that it was too dangerous for them to stay out. Apparently some of the other locals were looking for a fight with Kiwis and it was no longer safe to be out in Marseilles. We woke the next day to find out that three of our group had been pick-pocketed for mobiles or wallets (although one may have had that done by the local guy she was kissing). Someone also saw a guy on a scooter try to steal a handbag off the passenger seat of a parked car. Marseilles is a nice town but it seems you have to be pretty vigilant or the locals will rob you blind.

If you are travelling to Marseilles make sure you read this guide to spotting pockpocketers first.

On Sunday we had a relaxed start and the boys had a topless swim (when in Rome) with the locals at one of the beaches.

In other rugby news. A lot of the minnow teams made their major league counterparts look decidedly average. Samoa were only down 9-7 after 30 minutes. Ireland barely subdued Namibia 32-17. America made England work for every point of their 28-10 victory. And Canada led Wales 17-9 after 45 minutes.

DHL SUCK THE KUMARA

I recently had a package shipped form the USA with DHL. On arrival there was an outstanding charge for VAT of ?1.25 which DHL set about collecting, along with their ?12.22 administration fee!

Rip-off jerks.