This is the second of a three-part series, involving the truth behind the adult industry’s camming world.
In part one, I lightly touched on the mistreatment of camgirls by pimps in the industry. Now I’ll show how our customers are taken advantage of, by those same pimps.
When a charge appears on John Doe’s credit card from a porn site for a purchase he did not make or one he was overbilled for, he has the choice to dispute it or suck up the loss. His ultimate decision is often based on principal, as the dollar amount is usually rather low. After all, a small erroneous charge pales in comprison to the public humiliation of having your good name attached to a legal battle with a porn site smack in the middle of it. This is where the opportunistic pigs of the porn industry capitalize. Playing on people’s vulnerabilities with such little risk allows them to continue to thrive.
Below is an example of just one of several e-mail conversations I had with one particular site I worked for, concerning the overbilling of customers. Note: the $71.82 I mention below is my half.
Notice how they never addressed the overbilling issue in their response?
The word “free” is used all over the site and in ads promoting it. To his utter delight, the customer is (rightfully) under the impression the credit card request is strictly for age verification purposes and therefore he needs not worry about charges. Once that card number is given, charges can (and often do) occur though.
The website terms vaguely make mention of ‘premium areas’ and are loose overall with the wording. Anyone who actually takes the time to read them will discover paragraph after paragraph of legal protection. Despite this, a charge may occur, out of the blue, for a service the member never knew he was being charged for. The customer may even continue to be billed monthly, even yearly for a membership fee to the site if no action is taken to stop this.
In many cases, it isn’t until the customer officially files a complaint in public forums (such as Ripoffreport.com and Complaintsboard.com) that the site responds with anything other than denial. Sometimes, an anonymous person (with a strong, aggressive desire to defend the site) will try to project the blame onto the customer, whose “dick in hand”, as they say, prevented him from thinking clearly or reading the fine print stating he was being charged. The customer had time though, despite “dick in hand”, to find his credit card and enter all the pertinent information it took to sign up. By then, I suppose it is safe to assume anything “in hand” would have shrunk a great deal. So, when he finally gets around to entering the girl’s room, after the credit-card signup process, that excuse of “dick in hand” can really no longer apply. Unless he is on Viagra and has one of those 4-hour long erections. Perhaps he doesn’t want to play ‘read the 5,000 character small print from boring beginning to boring end’. After all, most people assume it’s just legal stuff and skip to the ‘enter’ button, only to be met with a surprise charge on his credit card. He was told everywhere it was free (in BIG BOLD print too)! If he’s pissed off enough, needs to let off steam or believes it might actually help, his next course of action would be to file a complaint online.
Below is a link to a typical complaint, along with the site’s response. Despite claims that the customer “chose” to access the pay-per-view area, iFriends offered a full refund of his money. Is that what “100% commitment to customer satisfaction” means? They will refund your money even if you’re clearly wrong and they’re right? They would have filed for Chapter 11 or gone bankrupt long ago if they actually had to settle with every customer they ripped off and not just the ones who caught them and went public with it.
There are a lot of he-said/she-said instances here, so even taking it with a grain of salt, it’s pretty safe to assume a fraction of those 498 complaints against them are legitimate. I can attest to the fact that it was hard, as articulate as I am, to locate the per-min rate. It was hardly distinguishable from that legal text on the Enter page. The word FREE was splattered everywhere yet the per min rate was in small print, nestled in what appeared to be legal mumbo jumbo in the middle of a long paragraph. Conveniently, the type of wording people often skip past. The charge per/min is extremely easy to miss unless you actually enjoy reading legal terms on a sex site when a girl is waiting for you in a much-promoted ‘free’ room just a mouse-click away.
What guy in his right mind wouldn’t (with free sex on the brain, because that is what was promised) want to rush past all the legal crap right into that room where a naked girl awaits him? So perhaps in a sense, he does have “dick in hand”, but that doesn’t negate the fact that the per/min fees were furtively placed.
The kicker was that even though the trickery was completely the site’s doing, the girl earning 50% had to absorb all chargebacks and refunds. The site’s deceptive play on words and game of ‘find the per min rate’, despite our many complaints about this in their own forums to them, never gained us any ground and they never changed a thing in that wording. Zero integrity.
The word ‘volunteer’ comes to mind when thinking back at all the refunds and chargebacks I have had to incur working on that site. The girls are the ones who lose their time. The site loses nothing. Our earnings don’t include an hourly wage, just 50% commission. The work was physically draining at times and difficult in some cases where customers pushed us to our physical limits. We performed all sorts of nasty things only to find a lot of those sessions didn’t clear, charged back or disappeared from our stats altogether. The site still profited. They had a program in place the whole time that recorded every single session ever created on their platform, many which were edited and put up for sale outside the platform. The sites selling those were owned by the owner of iFriends himself along with his two partners, iFriends’ accountant and their lawyer in a company called RMTinfo, responsiblemediatechnologies.com (bought under Responsible Media Technologies, LLC). All three are partners in a business that sells sex videos of us all over the internet. And in case you’re wondering, no, the performer never sees a cent from those sales. She is told this is the work of affiliates. Let’s look a little closer at RMT.
About RMT (Responsible Media Technologies, LLC):
RMT here on Trademarkia’s site lists three owners – iFriends’ owner (Hadhazy), accountant (Albers) and lawyer (Kayton) together in a partnership. If you’re unfamiliar with these names, then note the address, 7765 Lake Worth Rd #341. That’s iFriends.
What that partnership represents is anyone’s guess but this should provide a clue …
Hint: if you view screenshot history, as seen on this page (http://research.domaintools.com/research/screenshot-history/responsiblemediatechnologies.com/#), you will see Responsiblemediatechnologies.com on top as the screenshot they chose as representing the site TotallyFreeCams (yet shown as being owned by Webpower, Inc, iFriends here in the official ownership records http://whois.domaintools.com/totallyfreecams.com).
This is the screenshot on the far right of the same page (http://research.domaintools.com/research/screenshot-history/responsiblemediatechnologies.com/#0), shows the dot com and llc are one in the same, not two separate entities. For anyone who might be confused (and rightfully so).
This is how they bank.
Let’s scoot back over to RipoffReport’s website to compare the number of complaints against them versus one of their biggest and oldest competitors.
Those are a lot of complaints, even considering one of those sites was in business 5 years longer than the other. Let’s compare them to one of the internet giants then. Take Microsoft, for example, who have been around a lot longer and are far more hated than iFriends. Even Microsoft, as big as they are, only double iFriends in number of pissed off customers. Again, these complaints can’t all be wrong.
It wouldn’t be fair to omit the overbilling of the customers though. It is, after all, a huge part of the site’s success. Years worth of the same so-called glitches that were never fixed, leads one to wonder if they were purposely put there. Any sane person would say “Why would they do that? Surely they would lose money.” But would they?
There are few reasons a site would deliberately create glitches. Here’s some insight into how the billing works, in conjunction with the videochat timer and then a very interesting observation;
When a member enters the room, he is immediately charged the rate of one minute, regardless of whether he stays the full minute or not. So he’s watching a hot girl on cam when all of a sudden, her video freezes. He either clicks the back browser intending to re-enter the room, thinking it was his connection, or he just refreshes the page. The charge stops at that point and a new charge is created once he re-enters the room. He likely doesn’t realize that a simple refresh creates a brand new charge (extra minute tacked on) even though he did not technically leave the room. It’s the stop and start of video buffering that causes the system to reboot the timer, but an ongoing ‘glitch’ is what created the need to re-try the page in the first place. Convenient. In fact, each time he clicks to refresh the page (and he will if the video freezes a lot), a new charge with that extra minute applies. Why fix glitches? Just tell the customers it’s their internet connection or the girl’s. Too often, no one is the wiser. The time of entry can go back as far as 2 minutes, in fact. Never quite understood that myself but then we’re not given the seconds to look at. Conveniently. Look at this poor guy’s charges. I’m sure this was the result of his internet connection, or perhaps my own. Yeah, that’s it. Spiteful little bastards, aren’t they? Those internet service providers! Oh but I shouldn’t jump to that assumption when it could just as easily have been the pig jumping over the moon interfering with his connection to the site. Maybe it’s Maybelline. What do you think? I have tons more screenshots. This is just a sample.
So, a few bucks here and there, right? No big deal. It could, in fact, even be legal. I’m not a lawyer. What do I know? Add up all those charges though and at the end of a very eventful day, glitches are certainly not their worst enemy, are they? Remember, these glitches get reported all the time, yet they don’t get fixed. Convenient. Adds up to big numbers. Do the math. This is a site that boasts members in the millions, by the way. Now do the math.
When a customer kicks up a stink over a charge (or several) they never agreed to, typically the site will negotiate a refund and widdle it down to an amount that satisfies the customer, should he be brave enough to threaten court action. The site eventually agrees to a full refund of everything the customer spent, if they feel the threat is real. Any sort of judicial intervention would likely result in a criminal investigation and that’s a can of worms this particular site must work hard to avoid at all costs.
For every one John Doe that complains publicly, there are thousands who don’t. Once again, the site banks … and the money is insane.
In some instances of overbilling, even the girls were blamed. To clear the air on this, the girls do not bill the customer. The one to go after is that name beside the credit card charge. So when a camgirl is blamed for a wrongful charge or overbilling of any sort, know it is not her doing and feel free to dispute the charge with your bank, then take action to replace that card with an entirely new one (see below advice). Unless you trust a company who you know to be liars, with your credit card information.
Defensive behavior is typical of someone taking advantage of you. It presents itself in their reactions and mannerisms over time. I learned this the hard way. Keep an eye out for those who appear exceptionally talented at shifting the blame onto others, usually in a condescending manner. When alerting them to existing problems seems pointless, you can be certain they are well aware. Initially, they will play dumb and when they realize that isn’t working, they shift to denial mode, pointing the finger at the performers, the customers, the weather, internet connections, the alignment of the moon and stars before checking into it or accepting any responsibility for it possibly being their end. Sounds familiar?
Some things to keep in mind:
If you must visit a camming site, or have a favorite girl that you like to support and enjoy time with, only use a debit credit card. This allows you to control the amount that can be billed to you and if left empty afterward, helps to avoid recurring charges that may suddenly appear at a later date. Watch for overbillings. Be diligent when it comes to charges on your card.
If you’re ever screwed over by a porn site:
1) If you used a credit card to sign up, and were overcharged on that card (more than once), cancel it immediately. Have your bank issue you a new one with an entirely different number sequence. Same goes for debit credit card users. Remember, you only have 90 days to dispute a charge with your credit card company.
2) Without divulging any personal information, report it in detail, using an alias on either (or both) of these sites –
3) File a complaint with the FBI’s IC3 division. https://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx The more reports they receive against a particular company, the more they will be forced to take action.
4) File a complaint with the BBB. They can’t afford to have too many complaints here. They’ll settle quickly, like they did with this guy … http://www.bbb.org/southern-nevada/business-reviews/internet-services/ifriends-in-las-vegas-nv-82523/complaints#breakdown
In part 3, I will be discussing how they bank on the affiliates. You might want to grab some hot buttered popcorn for that one. Stay tuned.
Comments or questions? Please feel free to contact me publicly or privately on Twitter (@amanda36c) or by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).