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I Hate Linux

Sunday, November 06, 2005

NationMaster mistakes lawyers for an olive branch

Remember the good old days, when men resolved their problems like men, discussing their issues amicably face to face, complaining 'til they are blue in the mouth, or a good old fashion dual involving swords, pistols, or armies?

Back in April I wrote a bit about some problems a friend (tdaxp) was having with Nationmaster. In short, he signed up for their services, later canceled his account, and they continued to bill him, claiming that he signed up for 3 months and that he was obligated to pay for them all (of course if that was the case, why didn't they just bill him for all 3 right up front?). After trying to find some resolution with them, he gave up and let things drop... only to have them to take up an offensive, more than 6 months later.

As discussed extensively elsewhere: Recently, he received a rather unfriendly e-mail from John Steinmetz, Content Manager for , offering to refund his money in full... provided he removed his 'defamatory' blog entry about his dissatisfaction with . A reasonable request some would say... except for two major issues.

First, the blog entry in question was not defamatory, it simply stated one individual's experiences with them. And secondly... he threatened the potential of legal action in the form of:

If you choose to leave this url up, we will consider legal action.

I for one fear a world where men the likes of John Steinmetz hold any real authority, because in such a world, manufacturers (or individuals) would be likely to threaten review sites, or any other web site online for any unfavorable content they may have, regardless of it's accuracy. Oh wait... that is the world we live in today... Thanks John!

Of course, to add insult to injury, after tdaxp agreed to edit the entry in question, he did not receive his refund, instead, Mr. Steinmetz found two additional posts and asked them to be removed as well.

You may be asking, what horrible things are being said that Mr. Steinmetz feels the need to try to bribe tdaxp into compliance, and later reneges on his pledge? The worst kind of course... the truth!

It would be one thing if tdaxp had said something to the effect of:

John Steinmetz of NationMaster can only get off by strangling small furry animals and drinking their blood

Instead, he said factual things such as:

Nation Master will bill you even after you cancel.

nationmaster.com is not worth the three quarterly payments I made, the two after I stopped using or, or the one after I first demanded a refund.

Oh yes, quite derogatory and defamatory indeed! On second thought... I think that Mr. Steinmetz does need to unleash his lawyers and attempt to sue the hell out tdaxp! Heck, if they want, I'd be more than happy to give them his dorm address so that they could more easily serve him.

It has been my experience that a good portion of legal battles involve not direct confrontation and argument in the court room, but instead posturing and maneuvers to try to put themselves in a better position from the outset (or at least what looks like one). This makes sense though, after all, everyone wants to be in a good position to win, the problem is when you don't quite know what you are getting into.

I guess I kinda view it a little like having Uday Hussein a few years ago call Jenna Bush fat... and being completely oblivious of the kind of hell that might just created if their target's parents decide to become involved.

Both of tdaxp's parents are lawyers, and a couple of the most level headed people I have ever met. I have little doubt that if Mr. Steinmetz were to let his layers off of the leash and actually fire a legal volley (rather than making cowardly threats via e-mail), tdaxp's parents would become involved.

It must be nice to have a couple of lawyers so close who would not bill their client and are not public attorneys.

Finally, with all of the statistics they have, I wonder if Nationmaster has any data on the rate of success of anonymously threatening suit against people online in this manor. Somehow, I do not find it likely to succeed.


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