About a year and a half ago I wrote a post on my old blog, “Law Crossing: yay or nay?” asking if it was worth signing up with Law Crossing to help me find a job.
The answer is clearly, most definitely and unequivocally, “nay.” For the reasons laid out below, Law Crossing has demonstrated itself to be a most disreputable company, first by engaging in dubious business practices and then by trying to co-opt me and my blog in its efforts to cover them up and continue to exploit the public.
At first the initial comments submitted on my original post ranged from neutral to even positive towards Law Crossing. There were, however, concerns raised about a sister service, Legal Authority, referencing both the poor quality of the cover letters it produced on subscribers’ behalf and the extreme difficulty subscribers had in canceling their accounts.
And soon the comments began to raise the same concerns about Law Crossing itself. One commenter noted that Law Crossing had an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau for these very reasons:
Many complainants allege that job information supplied had incorrect contact information, listings were outdated, or in some cases are non-existent. The company responds to most complaints by reminding clients that by subscribing the first month, they agree to receive additional services, billed at $29.95 per month until cancellations are received as provided in their terms and conditions. The company reports it is their policy to accept cancellations by phone only. Allegations that they could not be reached by phone are generally not addressed.
If that were all there was to say against Law Crossing I could have just left it to the other post and BBB site to convey it. As it is, my previous post is the third result on a Google-search for “Law Crossing.” It’s quite visible, and as some of the later comments on reflect, it apparently has been deterring people from doing business with Law Crossing.
Which I imagine is what motivated Law Crossing to do what it did next: pay people to spam my site with fraudulent testimonials.
Typically comments have dripped in for this post one at a time, spread out over the months. But in just a few hours on June 27, 2008, all of a sudden there were dozens of suspiciously positive and suspiciously similar comments praising Law Crossing to the skies. (At least seven made it to the site; there’s even more in my spam filter that got caught for also including search engine-gaming URLs.) And I’m sure there would have been more still, had I not taken immediate action.
What Law Crossing had done was to post a “hit” on Amazon’s mTurk service, offering to pay people for each testimonial they spammed my blog with. Services like mTurk are designed to broker piecework between willing workers with extra cycles and employers that have lots of small tasks needing doing. Paying people to post comments must have seemed like a perfect use of the service, except that it is a complete violation of Amazon policy.
As well as a violation of me. As it is, I find corporate tactics that run roughshod over consumers to be particularly despicable — no one should do business with any company that helps itself to money it’s not entitled to, which, according to so many accounts, is what Law Crossing routinely does. But to have used me and my site, my audience and my credibility, to further their unsavory business practices is beyond the pale. Their behavior forbids my silence, which is why I post now as I do, so the world can easily see just what kind of company Law Crossing is.
The only reason I have not posted sooner is because my inquiries to Amazon to further research the situation had gotten lost in their customer service system. I have, however, since received an apology from Amazon for the delay and an assurance that if any other blogger finds themselves similarly targeted by spam comments solicited on the mTurk site, Amazon will assist them in stopping the onslaught. As it was Amazon did promptly act back in June to delete the solicitation and ban the poster shortly after I alerted them to the problem.
Note the difference between a company that’s relatively responsive to the public, and one who feels the need to lie to it.