Let me preface this article by explaining which scandal I am talking about because there are many. EdenFantasy has been doing wrong by employees, clients, manufacturers and reviewers for years. But several months ago, the owner “discovered” there was barely enough revenue left to keep the company afloat. He fire all the employees and shut down all the clubs and programs, including Sexis and EdenCafe, that had been going on. He, then, decided to cut how many points — points that contributors had earned — that contributors could put toward their orders. This resulted in a strange “point consideration proposal” by Fred who literally and liberally berated the community for abusing the system that he had championed for years.
You will be asked to submit a reconsideration request. It is optional. If you chose not to participate, your points will remain as they are now.
We review the submission manually and decide whether your points will be restored or completely erased.
All your points (or converted Gift Cards) will be cancelled and removed if company finds that you accumulated 500 points or more by intentionally abusing the system.
Around this time, many products were “discontinued.” Reviews and orders were being canceled left and right. Some, mind included, took months to get out. Anyone who wanted to buy something was hard-pressed to do so. Affiliates who had reached their payouts were not — and some still haven’t been, 5 months later — paid. During this whole thing, Fred refused, and then denied when I brought it up, to discuss or admit the state of the company. He banned many contributors and limited the accounts of others, myself included. However, many of the previous employees began to speak up about how this was just the cherry on top of the shit sundae.
Reviewers and shoppers who wised up by reading posts like mine left in droves, many opening up a blog for the very first time. Others took to Twitter and other review/affiliate programs in light of Fred/EdenFantasys’ policies. SheVibe opened their own forum.
There’s no doubt that it’s a ridiculous scandal and one that could have been completely avoided. It hurt the company and left the community scarred and fragmented, but that’s not all there is to it. Eden’s fallacies are absolutely a lesson that other companies can — and should — learn from. This is far from a cohesive list, so I encourage you to add your thoughts in the comments. I may even add them to this post. The scary part is how many of these facts are simply common sense.
- Don’t turn a blind eye to things like the bills. They don’t go away. Quite the opposite. They pile up, and you ruin your reputation with consumers, manufacturers and other companies with whom you have a relationship. When it gets to the point that the company needs to be shut down or sold immediately because you ignored or tried to deny away the problem for months or even years, there’s no one to blame but yourself.
- Yes, you have to spend money to make money. No, you shouldn’t spend thousands or millions of dollars on projects that don’t bring in money and ultimately bleed the company dry. Yes, working with bloggers can yield positive results. No, it shouldn’t be your only end game.
- Don’t blame the customers for your bad business practices. This falls under the “there’s no one to blame but you” category, but I’ll talk about it more anyway. Don’t blame customers for taking advantage of programs or sales that you created.
- It’s such a sleazy thing to base your business on the idea that you will make deals with others. That you will slip them something a little extra under the table or that you’ll bow to their demands to appease them, especially if you’re hurting your customer in the process.
- Don’t try to do it all. Even if you have the best of intentions, you can’t do it all. You just can’t. Determine what you can do and do it well rather than spreading yourself too thin. Otherwise, you wind up starting clubs and giveaways and blogger outreach. The best case scenario is that it works with a few hiccups or that it doesn’t, and you can gracefully back out. Sometimes people will understand. On the other hand, if you don’t realize that you’re setting yourself up for failure, you might make a bunch of promises that you can’t deliver on, which may result in some unhappy customers.
- Treat your employees well because they are what make your company run. They may be the face that customers see. They have the power to testify against you in court and to tell your dirty little secrets.
- When you reward your contributors for listing pros and cons about things, they’ll do the same for your company. It’s not about bloggers, it’s about pissing off vocal people. And bloggers will talk — even Metis Black mentioned how quickly the network works a CatalystCon West — partly because we like to talk to begin with, but it’s more than that. I feel as though I owe readers the truth, whether it’s about a a toy or a company. I feel an obligation to tell buyers that a company isn’t reputable. As a blogger, I feel a sense of community with my fellow bloggers, and I want to help protect them from companies that will take advantage of them. So it’s my job to talk about it on this blog, on Twitter, on Tumblr, on Facebook or on your forum. Wherever I can talk about what you did wrong, I will. It’s not about you. It’s not petty vengeance. It’s about raising awareness of wrongdoing.
- This leads me to my next point: don’t lie. The truth always comes out. Either you wind up telling bigger lies to cover up the succession of untruths, you get caught in the act or you wrong a person whom you trusted with your secret, and the truth comes out. The truth always comes out. Can you deal with that?
- People don’t react to change well, especially not if it’s sudden. Yes, you may have to change the focus or programs that your company has. If you do it all at once, people will complain because they’ve become accustomed to a certain lifestyle. You can attempt to smooth things over by explaining why you have to change, and even though you don’t have to explain how your company works or what you’re doing, a little transparency goes a long way. When you start lying, even if it’s just by having shady practices, people stop trusting you.
And that trust? Yea, it’s kind of important when you use marketing campaigns about how people can trust you.