Ripoff Report: Where the angry vent their steam

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If you care enough to check out a company before you do business, there are a couple of places to turn to get a flavor of whether the consumer experience is one to be avoided.

You could look at the somewhat sterile but informative numbers that appear on the Better Business Bureau site. Or you can go right for the red meat on RipoffReport.com.



Ed Magedson's site has become a magnet for the angry and disenfranchised who post rants, narratives and sometimes reasoned criticism of businesses they are unhappy with. As the site's popularity has risen, so has the power of the complainers, whose warnings can be powerful payback. For one thing, these posts come in near or at the top of search engine results, which means you don't even have to start you search at RipoffReport.com to feel the venom of someone angry at a business.

"I think people see the value of researching business names before they do business with an organization, but many also visit to see if anyone else had the same problem they had with an offending company afterwards," Magedson said. "Misery loves company."

RipoffReport.com, he said, has grown along with the entire social media phenomenon.

You have to read the site with a dose of perspective. Not everyone's experience will mirror your own. But as similar complaints begin to ad up, RipoffReport.com shows its value.

Magedson advises businesses that have taken a hit to respond. He says he will not delete any consumer complaints, so it's better to be contrite and explain steps being taken to avoid similar situations.

"Those who become angry only make things worse," he said.

Magedson says in addition to the traditional complaints about business experience, his site has been seeing increased complaints of late from people who complain of being victim to predatory lending and bogus foreclosure rescues. They've shouted out load about becoming victims to scams touting economic stimulus money through government grants. And more are seeing multilevel marketing scams and work-at-home schemes aimed at preying on people who have lost their jobs.

"Many don't take the time to do the necessary research," Magedson said. "I let them know if they ask for money up front or want any kind of banking info.. walk away!"

And, Magedson said, he also issues this warning to those who email him:

"First off, there is NO SUCH THING AS STUFFING ENVELOPES FOR MONEY! That was a thing of the 70's. It is not cost effective today to do that. It's a scam! If there is a company out there that does this, we don't know about it!"

Magedson said he also routinely sees complaints from people asking about or having been victimized in wire transfer fraud schemes. These come in a variety of scenarios -- you've won the lottery, you've won a grant, etc. -- and involve you transferring money in advance via Western Union or some similar service.

While most of what Magedson has done and harnessed and grown is give consumers a recognizable brand to lodge complaints, he also has raised some ire through his "Corporate Advocacy Program," which critics have called extortionist. Essentially, companies that have been the subject of complaints can buy goodwill from Magedson through payments to the site.

Magedson dismisses their complaints as sour grapes from companies that spend a lot of money to SEO firms to water down where the search results with the damaging information shows up. He notes that he has been sued many times, says he has never lost and has actually collected from those suing him.

Angry at RipoffReport.com? Forget trying to use the Better Business Bureau as an intermediary. Magedson, a foe of the BBB (which solicits money for memberships) gets an "F" rating from the organization for never responding to their inquiries about complaints.

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