Another Nightmare Story - This One With A Happy Twist Ending
Back in late 2021, author Glenn Della-Monica published his book Black Hat/White Hat: A tale of good is Evil (available on Amazon and more). Unfortunately, the author was soon diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that prohibited him from doing much marketing following the book's release outside of being included in a couple of book fairs via Bowker.
During this time, while dealing with his illness, Glenn was contacted by Bennett Media and Marketing in June of that year about getting his book "impressions" on Facebook and Instagram. After a brief phone call followed by an email, Glenn researched the group and found that they did have a social media presence and nothing super negative online that he could find. Somewhat confident with the contract, Glenn signed the agreement for Bennett Media and Marketing to generate six million (6,000,000) "impressions" over a 6-month period. The cost to Glenn would be $700 per one million impressions, meaning the total cost of the contract to Glenn would be approximately $4,300 ($700/million impressions x 6 million impressions).
NOTE: After hearing Glenn’s story, I followed up with a recent but basic search on Bennett Media and Marketing. Like Glenn, I did not find anything that stood out as red flags. However, I did not find anything super positive either. And doing a search on the BBB website returned 0 results for a company by this name. I tried searching using the city and state listed on their website and a generic search for both accredited and unaccredited businesses in the BBB database for all locations. Neither approach resulted in any records being found for Bennett Media and Marketing.
Over the course of the next few months, Glenn did not notice any activity regarding the sales of his book. There was a spike at one point for about 500 sales that was attributed to a onlinebookclub.org book-of-the-day promotion that Glenn participated in outside of the contract with Bennett Media and Marketing.
Come October of 2021, Glenn reached out to his contact at Bennett Media and Marketing and expressed his concerns about their marketing campaign's performance. Glenn was told that a campaign report would be provided to him, and a brief time later Glenn received an email with the promised report. Upon reviewing the report, Glenn deemed the details provided to be bogus.
The report suggested that the ad in question had generated approximately 2 million (2,000,000) impressions and had generated just shy of 700 clicks, or "actions" in their report's lingo. When the report was first sent to Glenn, his contact at Bennett Media and Marketing had suggested that the report showed that his ad was "performing well" despite the ad's Clickthrough Rate, or CTR, or 0.035% being extremely far below the industry average of 0.9%.
When looking at the report, Glenn was able to determine that contrary to Bennett Media and Marketing's assessment that the ad was NOT "performing well." It also seemed a bit suspect to Glenn that out of the reported 700 clicks that not a single person purchased his book for the $0.99 price that it was being offered for during that period. Of course, Bennett Media Marketing had not guaranteed any sales, but it did seem odd that for an ad that was reportedly “performing well” that not a single click resulted in a sale for a book with such a low price.
A few weeks passed and early December was upon Glenn. There still had not been any noticeable difference with his book sales. This prompted Glenn to reach out to his contact again regarding their report and activities but was only able to leave a message with his request. Glenn requested verifiable evidence from the social media platforms that Bennett Media and Marketing had claimed to place the carousel ad they created for his book that was supposed to be generating the impressions and actions reported.
By late December, Glenn had not heard back from Bennett Media and Marketing regarding his most recent request. Perturbed, Glenn called again and left a message stating that if he did not hear back from the group that he would have his lawyer contact them. Within a few hours Glenn received a call from Mr. Robertson, who attempted to explain away the lapse in communication by indicating that Glenn's campaign manager had been in a motorcycle accident. Mr. Robertson agreed to provide the requested materials but said that it would take 4 weeks for them to be provided. Glenn replied that Bennett Media and Marketing had 2 weeks and Mr. Robertson reluctantly agreed to that timeline.
During the next two weeks, Glenn contacted his legal service where a lawyer drafted an appropriate letter. Glenn reviewed and approved the letter. Two weeks later and no data from Bennett Media and Marketing, Glenn took things to the next level. He approved his legal advisor to send the letter that had been drafted while at the same time he filed a claim with his banking institution for failure to provide services and sought a reversal of the charges for the money paid to Bennett Media and Marketing. Glenn's claim process included him sending the bank all the documentation he had acquired, including his book's Amazon sales data and the letter sent by his lawyer.
This effort proved effective because within a few days Glenn had received a refund from his financial institution. Expectedly, Mr. Robertson soon called Glenn on at least two separate occasions pleading with him to cancel the dispute with the bank. Funnily, Mr. Robertson claimed he could refund Glenn's money faster even though the bank had already done so. Understandably, Glenn declined Mr. Robertson's pleas and gleefully listened to the panic in Mr. Robertson's voice as he continued to shamefully attempt to persuade Glenn to drop his dispute.
Of course, Mr. Robertson's pleas were filled with excuses. He had been unable to contact Glenn prior to Glenn filing the dispute with the bank due to him contracting COVID and that he had been unable to provide the impression contracts because they were "proprietary information" despite his previous agreement to provide said data.
NOTE: I do not know how groups like this run their ads, if they run ads, but when I run ads for Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, and other platforms, that platform gives me a dashboard for my ads. That dashboard allows me to see my ads, both past and present. I can click on my ads to manage them, get reporting statistics, and more. I cannot imagine how/why Bennett Media and Marketing would not have been able to provide proof of their ad(s).
The result of all of this was twofold. First, Glenn was able to recover his money, one of the lucky few who fell victims to scams and/or underperforming services. Secondly, Bennett Media and Marketing should now have a black mark on their credit card account which should make it easier for others to claim fraud should others find themselves in a comparable situation.
The funny part of all of this was during one of the last phone calls with Mr. Robertson, Glenn asked Mr. Robertson if he had read Glenn's book. As expected, Mr. Robertson replied that he had not read it. It was at that point that Glenn provided a short but clever synopsis of his work; a retired mobster who uses a pair of married, sociopathic hitmen to punish scammers, spammers, and cybercriminals as a form of revenge.
As Glenn put it, "revenge is sweet."
Additionally, according to Glenn, his story will also appear in the Spring 2023 issue of the Mensa literary journal Calliope.
NOTE: Glenn has provided information to me to back up his claims and to support the veracity of this post. Posts made to assert or insinuate negative behavior by an individual or group such as this are not made without some assurance from the claimant that the details presented here are fact. I try to avoid the “I think,” “I feel,” “in my opinion” type statements as they are difficult to verify and are often a matter of perspective. In this case, while I cannot say that Bennett Media and Marketing is anything other than a business, I can certainly agree with Glenn’s assessment that the effectiveness of any efforts made by the group resulted in a less than valued outcome. People should always be on alert for scammers trying to swindle personal information or money from you unjustly, but we should also never forget that even real businesses can do shoddy work. Question everything. Speak up when you have doubts. And do not be afraid to fight for yourself, your money, or your reputation. Do not be a victim. Do not accept poor work in exchange for your hard-earned cash. Whenever you are negotiating agreements with marketers, publishers, or whatever, always demand a threshold to measure success. It does you no good to pay thousands of dollars for “impressions” that do not result in anything valuable to you. You are engaging their services, often at their request, to bolster your brand. Demand assurances from them by adding terms to the agreement that force them to meet a minimum standard. I suspect most will refuse such standards as it would not favor them, but such refusals should also be very telling to you about their own expectations for their services.
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