So you’ve heard the news? Google Money Tree – one of 2008’s most popular Biz-Opp offers – has hit the headlines under a barrage of threats from the Texas Attorney General.
It turns out the popular get-rich-quick Google scheme is what we knew it was all along…a waste of money. The sort of offer you’d have to be blind, deaf, dumb and plain stupid to sign up to. No offence, Mum.
Not only have the Google Money Tree founders misled their customers with purposefully hidden small print, but they’ve also failed to actually send the damn kit to some of them. Now it turns out that Attorney Greg Abbott is baying for blood, and it might just be YOUR Adwords campaign he’s ready to pounce on.
Have a read over the public press statement below.
Infusion Media Inc.â€™s â€˜GoogleMoneyTreeâ€™ uses high profile name to deceive out-of-work Internet users
AUSTIN â€“ Attorney General Greg Abbott today charged two Utah-based defendants with operating a fraudulent work-at-home scheme. The stateâ€™s enforcement action names Infusion Media Inc. and Jonathan D. Eborn, whose â€œGoogleMoneyTree.comâ€ promised six-figure earnings for conducting specialized Google and Yahoo Internet searches.
According to investigators, the defendants promised big payouts in order to convince Web users to spend $3.88 on shipping and handling for a â€œfree kitâ€ that supposedly would show them how to make money from home. Those who purchased the kit were later surprised to discover they were being charged $72 a month by the defendants.
Internet users encountered the defendantsâ€™ Google and Facebook advertisements, which linked to blogs that were created to promote their work-at-home offer. The blogs included â€œtestimonialsâ€ that touted their products and led viewers to believe that previously unemployed users were earning high salaries conducting Internet searches. According to the blogs, interested parties need only acquire a â€œfree kit,â€ which was available through GoogleMoneyTreeâ€™s â€œsign-upâ€ page.
Individuals who requested the kit were required to provide substantial personal information, including their name, address, telephone number, email address, and credit card payment information, which was supposed to be used to pay the $3.88 â€œshipping and handlingâ€ fee. Customers believed they were only obligated to pay the â€œrefundableâ€ processing fee and were not aware there would be additional charges to their credit cards.
According to the stateâ€™s enforcement action, GoogleMoneyTree failed to clearly inform purchasers that they had been enrolled in monthly memberships and had only seven days to cancel their trial membership. Purchasers who failed to cancel within seven days were automatically charged $72 on their credit card statements each month. In addition to the unexpected credit card charges, customer complaints obtained by state investigators indicate that GoogleMoneyTree failed to actually send the â€œfree kitâ€ and refused to honor customer refunds.
The state is seeking an injunction, civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, as well as restitution for purchasers. Texans who believe they have been misled by similar business practices may file complaints with the Office of the Attorney General toll-free at (800) 252-8011 or file complaints online at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.
So what does this mean for rebill Biz-opps? Not a fucking lot, I’d imagine. The affiliates will blame the networks (promoting what’s in front of us). The networks will blame the merchants (not our fault it’s a scam). The merchant will blame the retarded customers for not reading the small print. Expect a rumbling of industry conversation while various affiliates with highly perched morals withdraw their rebill offers for fear of a lawsuit landing on their doorstep.
I expect this to last all of about ten minutes before people accept that the rebill offer is as old as marketing and a perfectly valid selling mechanism.
If anything, the injunction will serve to frighten a few affiliates out of the market and make it a more lucrative place to be for the rest of us.
I was a fan of the Google Money Tree offer while it lasted. It wasn’t my most profitable Google campaign but it still converted at around 11% and made me a couple of hundred dollars a day.
There will be those who take the moral ground and insist that it’s about time these shady rebill offers were stamped out.
Personally, I think they can go fuck themselves. If the terms are stated clearly, and if the merchant delivers what it says it’s going to deliver – that’s fair game in my eyes. Burden be on the naive retard who actually expects popping a few Acai Berry pills to save his waistband.
I don’t have a personal attachment to anything that I sell. When you’re in affiliate marketing, your customers are as faceless as your employers. There’ll always be another Google Money Tree lurking in the campaign listings. But are you going to order a trial copy of every last product you promote? I didn’t think so.
Promising customers the chance to earn money from home is no shadier than telling some 40 year old virgin that he can get laid tonight on such-and-such dot com. Marketing thrives on the best case scenario, not the reality of the situation.
As for affiliates getting legally challenged for unknowingly promoting the scam offer – give me a fucking break. I’m tempted to go set up an ultra targeted Adwords campaign selling the Google Money Tree to only Texas just to cream a deserted market.
Absolutely nothing will come of these baseless threats. The affiliate is safe. Those Money Tree founders might have some explaining to do though…
UPDATE: To clarify, because I’m sick of hearing about it! Yes, I did advertise Google Money Tree money at one point. I pulled the offer as soon as I found out the owners weren’t delivering the actual product and had been avoiding customer complaints. I don’t like being associated with scam products any more than the next guy. Any affiliate who continued to advertise GMT after it was revealed how they weren’t even delivering a product, should take a step back and re-evaluate what he wants to get out of this business.
We all know these are cheap shitty rebills that aren’t gonna make you rich overnight. We don’t know that they’re scams though. That’s a completely different ball game. There are lines to be drawn and if you’re worried about promoting a product that happens to be a scam, get in touch with your affiliate manager first. They will usually have a good idea of how reputable it is.