The Revenue Discrepancies: Why I Left Webpower Inc./iFriends

I was asked, in a recent blog comment: “What made you look into your 10% reserve account and ask Webpower/Ifriends for a statement of your revenues after all those years?”.  There is no simple answer, so here it is.

In november of 2009, I went to check my online earnings report to see what I had coming to me in the week ahead,  as I do every week. According to my pay statement, I had nothing coming to me. My next cheque was at nil. Concerned that there was an error, I phoned iFriends to let them know my pay stats was reflecting no earnings. This is when they informed me that I owed them money due to refunds.

Below, is what showed up in my refunds list (the “V_0000017………” sequences are the specific number assigned to the member, whose handles are MACADOO1983 and TROLLYMAN).

 (MACADOO1983) Total refunded: $98.57
V_000001791939 11/07/09 $ 13.48
V_000001791939 11/07/09 $ 4.49
V_000001791939 11/07/09 $ 4.49
V_000001791939 11/07/09 $ 4.49
V_000001791939 11/07/09 $ 22.46
V_000001791939 11/07/09 $ 7.49
V_000001791939 11/07/09 $ 6.74
V_000001791939 11/07/09 $ 4.99
V_000001791939 11/07/09 $ 29.94

(TROLLYMAN). Total refunded: $736.71
V_000001703833 10/28/09 $ 132.49
V_000001703833 10/28/09 $ 38.18
V_000001703833 10/28/09 $ 47.16
V_000001703833 10/24/09 $ 226.80
V_000001703833 10/24/09 $ 53.89
V_000001703833 10/12/09 $ 3.58
V_000001703833 10/12/09 $ 5.38
V_000001703833 10/09/09 $ 36.82
V_000001703833 10/09/09 $ 95.53
V_000001703833 10/09/09 $ 59.20
V_000001703833 10/08/09 $ 37.68

Needless to say, I was pissed to find out that I owed them money for services I performed, which tiFriends told me were actually members “frauding the system”. I was not involved in this scam, so why was money deducted from me? I performed the service (so well, in fact, that they returned on multiple occasions). An e-mail response came to me from Webpower Inc./iFriends.

With regards to TROLLYMAN, this was not simply an instance of a customer
service representative making nice with a complaining viewer. This was an
instance of what we call “true knowledge fraud,” where a customer uses valid
information on the iFriends service without the intent to actually pay for
their usage.

We received a call from the bank on the customer’s behalf, and the bank
advised that the customer indicated this was fraud. The bank sided with the
customer in this instance, despite our ability to provide evidence to the
contrary. Our hands, in effect, were tied with regards to the refunds that
were issued to the customer.

As you know, online transactions are very easy for customers to dispute,
especially when the merchant is an adult merchant. In order to maintain our
ability to process transactions, there are very strict guidelines as to what
can and cannot be contested on our end with the bank. This was a situation
where the customer took advantage of the system, and his misusage impacted
not only you, but several other video hosts as well as iFriends itself.

We have made the decision to issue you a bonus based on the TROLLYMAN usage
to cover what he spent in your sessions. Our VCH support team had actually
already started looking into this matter when they saw the refund
adjustments come through. This bonus is being applied to your reserve
balance for the full amount of the customer’s usage with you in your

I would appreciate if you would maintain the confidentiality of our
discussions on this user, as this is not information that would normally
have been shared. The customer *is* still protected under our privacy
policy, even if he has defrauded us. I would also appreciate if you would
maintain the confidentiality of the outcome of this situation.

I responded:

About the reserves – how will I be able to track this now, to know
the balance of what’s in my reserves, since you do not furnish us with
this information? As far as I’m concerned, this money has not been
issued back to me, it’s sitting in your account, collecting interest
and the next time some jackoff like TRIOLLYMAN decides to screw me,
it’s automatically taken off. It benefits iFriends more to have the
money sitting in there than to simply return it to me and treat it
like revenue I, in fact worked for. I do not often get refunds. This
is not common for viewers to complain about something I have done
wrong in a session. If anything, it is the direct result of problems
with the site. You can see this clearly by reading my user reviews. I
want my money from those sessions. I don;t know how much longer I can
work on iFriends with all this going on, and from what I have wrote to
you about, which all still remains unsolved.

I am becoming more and more leery about working on iFriends now.
Knowing that, at any time, any amount of money can be deducted from me
with no proof of why. An explanation if I kick up a stink, but no
solid proof. This is not right. I’m sure you’d want proof of why money
was taken from what you earned. What if I owed you money but deducted
money without any explanation to you? You have to ask every single
time about deductions because I refuse to tell you anything except
that the money was deducted from Joeblow69 on the 5th of september?
Why doesn’t iFriends furnish us with this information? Furthermore,
the link to e-mail the fans from our member list in the fan club
disappears when their account becomes inactive. Why on earth would you
do that? You should let us contact them to see what was wrong and
possibly to get them back. There’s already a thing in place so that we
can’t spam when sending out e-mails. It just looks like iFriends is
hiding something, regardless if this is true or not.


 Webpower Inc./iFriends responded:

I believe that when you forward along an e-mail that has attachments, the attachments from the original e-mail are not preserved. That was the problem with these attachments. You forwarded me an e-mail that cited attachments, but they did not get passed along by your email client.

I am checking your IDCard from the inside and outside connections. I do not see QQQQQQQQQQ or JRZOOOOOOO. I only see handles that are seem to have been created by you for your IDCard. Again, can you send me a screenshot of what you are seeing? They do come through on the original e-mails, just not when you forward an e-mail that has an attachment.

As for TROLLYMAN, as I explained to you previously, this is a situation that is considered “True Knowledge Fraud.” I am sorry that I apparently did not explain this situation clear enough. This was an instance where the user committed “True Knowledge Fraud,” and his bank backed him up on it. Sometimes, given the nature of the service provided by our site, banks are more likely to simply side with their customer, rather than review the documentation that the merchant has that would prove the legitimacy of the transactions. Banks, especially in this economy, would rather have a customer who pays their bills monthly than do something that will cause an otherwise good customer of theirs to take their business elsewhere.

There’s no way to know when a user signs up and uses the site using valid, legitimate information that he will then turn around and charge back everything with the bank, or that the bank will honor the chargebacks after speaking with our customer service department. A chargeback is a refund for bank purposes, as the amount is still refunded back through our payment processors. The only difference is that WebPower absorbs the fees attached by the bank. Banks do charge fees per chargeback transaction, so each of those refunds you observed was also accompanied by a per-transaction fee (sometimes up to $30 per transaction) that we pay. This fee is not passed along to video hosts.

In this instance, after careful review of the situation with our billing department, we’ve taken additional steps to make it easier to spotlight those users who have the potential to be “True Knowledge Fraud”-sters, fine-tuning some of the procedures we already have in place to catch some users before they are able to spend large sums of money in pay sessions on iFriends. If only the Psychic Hotlines of the ‘80’s could be employed to catch such customers!

Thank you for the suggestion you have offered! I will pass it along, but would also suggest that you use the “Help Us Improve This Feature” link to send it directly through to our development queue as well. While I do have the ear of our staff, when the input comes to us via the “Help Us Improve This Feature” directly from video hosts like yourself, they tend to get reviewed and potentially implemented much quicker.

I responded:

Thanks for clarifying that. Attached are 2 screenshots of what I’m
seeing in my ID Card settings page. I know what page you were looking
at but need you to click on the AMANDA36CISME link from that page,
which will take you right to the page with all those strange
characters I mentioned.

And the e-mail address on top of the page – I already changed that
back to a couple of weeks ago, from Somehow, it keeps reverting back to jaime.
Hopefully it sticks this time.

Also, someone noted that TROLLYMAN may have signed up again under
TROLLEYMAN this time. Just a heads-up.

There was a $280.00 reserve adjustment added to my latest cheque. What
is it for? It doesn’t match up with any of my records.

When cross-referencing these reports with the information derived from the online reports I have, I started to notice major discrepancies. Strange things were happening in my fan club, as well. Jaime (an employee of the company, whose job was ‘chathost support’) had her e-mail address, on a few separate occasions, kept replacing mine in my settings. She had trouble offering any believable explanation for the TROLLEYMAN/TROLLYMAN concern I had. Webpower Inc./iFriends’ response:


Thanks for the screenshots! That certainly is making it easier to track
this down. I’m working to get these purged out, as they were from the
original iFriendsV2 testing and should no longer be on your account.

As for the head’s up, I’ve double-checked and triple-checked the TROLLEYMAN
account and do not see that he is linked to the TROLLYMAN account from
before. Usage is inconsistent (heck, it’s even a different country) and
from what I’m seeing, the new TROLLEYMAN is not the old TROLLYMAN.

VCH Support advises me that the $280 was a reimbursement for what was
previously deducted from the reserve account for the TROLLYMAN refunds. It
had been done before we issued the bonus to your payouts, so this was the
final adjustment.

And, as requested, attached is a spreadsheet that shows what we have in your
reserves, and the checks associated with those figures. I hope this answers
the questions you have regarding what’s currently in the reserve. If not,
please let me know any specific questions you have based on this report and
I’d be happy to address them.



The information contained in that spreadsheet didn’t match up with any of the information I had access to online in my revenue stats. The rest is all on