UPDATE: 6th April 2018
It is 10 years since this article was published.
I recently spoke to Joel Comm about this issue. Joel explained that the president of his company (at the time) suggested what people were calling a “forced continuity” payment model and Joel agreed to it. He noted that the buck obviously stops with him and should have looked into the issue more.
As you guys know, my goal on this blog has always been to be helpful and help avoid people being ripped off. My intention has never been to attack anyone personally.
Joel comes across as a nice guy and has always been upfront about the mistake he has made. I will keep the article below in its entirety for reference, but it is important to note that a long time has passed since this occurred and Joel readily admits he listened to bad advice and it cost him greatly.
I wasn’t going to write about the Joel Comm saga which has developed over the last few days but I’ve read about it on several blogs I read on a regular basis and the reactions from some bloggers has surprised me to say the least.
To summarise, Joel Comm has been promoting his new Adsense Secrets 4 ebook the last few weeks with such high profile bloggers as Darren Rowse recommending the book. Across the board bloggers were raving about how good the ebook was but 4 days ago Mark Wielgus noticed that Joel Comm was actually scamming his customers. You see, in his badly designed 10,000 word sales pitch he had one small sentence telling readers that by paying $9.95 for his ebook they would also be subscribing to a $29.95 monthly subscription. Mark hit the nail on the head when he said that this is ‘deceptive nonsense’. I read the sales page a few times when Mark wrote his post and I only found the subscription text by using the search facility in firefox.
A few days later Joel was forced to issue a grovelling apology on the site for his actions. He has also promised to give two weeks of profits to Hearts and Hands International.
You know what, I think I would have more respect for Joel if he put his hands up and just shouted ‘OK, you got me’ rather than issuing an insincere apology. For Gods sakes, how can you believe an apology from a guy who puts a sales pitch at the end of it to buy the same product he ripped people off with!!
Surprised by Bloggers Response
I mentioned at the start of this post that I wasn’t planning on writing about this whole saga but what forced me to say something was the response from some bloggers. I have been really surprised at how quick some bloggers have been accept his apology. Joel Comm is only human and we all make mistakes but you would have to have your head in the sand if you think Joel didn’t know what he was doing when he decided to sign his customers up to something they didn’t want signed up to. It’s not like he accidently set this up, he consciously made the decision to mislead people into a monthly subscription payment 3 times more expensive than the ebook which he is trying to sell.
This kind of tactic disgusts me, it really does. He is no different to the webmasters who infect your computers with spyware, no different from the webmasters who sell your email details to other parties and no different from any other scammer on the net whose only motivation is money, regardless of how ethical the methods they use to get it are. I emplore you not to give this guy another penny. I agree wholeheartedly with David Peralty who said ‘Don’t buy Adsense Secrets‘.
Clearly not everyone shares my view on Joel’s apology though. John Chow and Mark Weilgus gave Joel kudos for apologising, Zac Johnson is giving away free copies of the book and Shawn Collins has went as far as saying that he applauds Joel’s response. I have a lot of respect for these bloggers but I have to disagree with them on this one (* my respect for Mark certainly went up for warning bloggers about this scam in the first place).
I hope I don’t sound like a mean bastard with all of this. I’m sure Joel is a nice guy and I have no doubt he has realised he has messed up in a big way. I always try and put myself in someone elses shoes but I just can’t this time. This is someone who understands how the internet works and he has been working online a long time to know how things work, in short, he knew what he was doing. That is why it’s difficult for me to believe this apology is sincere.
Consider this scenario. How would you all feel if next week someone finds out that I placed a spyware worm in this page which got me $10 for every computer it affected. Would you accept my apology when I was caught? Would you believe that I made a mistake and that I’m only human? More importantly, could you ever trust me in the future?
You see, integrity is a big part of writing on the web, particularly for guys like Joel Comm who are selling themselves as much as their product. Daniel Scocco talked about this today. In particular he said that :
I am pretty sure that those Internet marketers are nice guys, the only problem with them is that sometimes they put their desire to make money above their principles and above integrity.
And therein lies the main point of this whole debate, can you ever trust someone who has tried to scam his own customers in the past, can you have faith in their product?
I’d love to hear your view on all this so please leave a comment if you have time :)