to this industry's coalition
the past several years we've received... pick a number: 150,
250, 750... reader allegations of fraud, consumer abuse and
abysmal product quality about our advertiser, Sunshine State
Slicktalkers. We've listened to an endless string of allegations
that "SunnySlick" is in the business of inducing
you through false premises to FedEx your $3500 deposit for a
"once-in-a-lifetime special deal," and then, based
upon some bogus pretext, seizing all the funds you've sent to
them as (euphemistically speaking) "liquidated damages";
we've received countless reports that paid-for components remain
undelivered for years on end... or, just as prevalently, forever...
and reported to you as... again, euphemistically speaking...
"backordered parts." We've substantiated reader complaints
that, to deliver your kit to you, the trucking company they use
charges two to three times "common carrier" rates (precisely
half of which is reportedly kicked back to SunnySlick),
amounting to hundreds and even thousands of dollars of trucking
overcharge per kit. In pursuit of providing you with the relevant
facts evidencing these complaints, we contacted the Attorney
General's office in their state and were advised that the complaints
we received are merely the tip of the iceberg... that the AG's
office had filed a massive lawsuit against SunnySlick
after having logged well over 2,000 consumer affidavits about
this firm's allegedly fraudulent sales and shipping-charge practices
and shoddy product quality. This firm has clearly been wreaking
nothing less than a replicar-enthusiast holocaust on our readers.
We've recently been informed by the U.S. Attorney General's office
that this firm has been convicted in federal court of criminal
fraud (so there's no more "allegedly" about the victims'
accusations). We have a moral obligation and a formal company
policy to ensure that you, our esteemed and valued reader, be
made aware of these developments... even though SunnySlick
continues to be a megabuck / mega-profitable color
advertiser in this magazine. (signed: your favorite kit car / streetrod / hot
rod magazine editor)"
was the last time you picked up one of the kit car or hot rod / streetrod
magazines and encountered a "We're taking steps to warn
you about an unscrupulous advertiser" editorial like that?
You can safely dismiss the "We have a moral obligation
and a formal company policy..." part as sheer nonsense.
In fact, when was the last time that you read in any of these
magazines a consumer alert that they'd received complaints about
any advertiser? I'll answer that question for you: Never. Not
once. Not ever. Not on your life. It's one thing that the motorcar-enthusiast
magazine publishers just cannot resist lunging for the those
mesmerizing greenbacks that these telepredators waggle in front
of them every issue; it's quite another that they feel no responsibility,
legally, morally or ethically, to alert you, their reader, with
even the mildest word of caution. And folks, over the years,
each of these magazine editors and ad salespersonsrepeat:
every single one of 'em, irrespective of his or her preposterous
denialshas listened to the same accounts of motorcar-enthusiast
victimization about these scam perpetrators that we have... and
unquestionably many, many more! This coalition of predators and
editors, along with the magazine executives' routine indifference
to their readers' exploitationand factor in their barely-concealed
glee at being a de facto beneficiary of that exploitationall
adds up to a grotesque perversion of professional automotive
bluntly, these periodicals might just as well feature Betty Boop
high-kicking across each month's front cover while striking up
a burlesque rendition of 'Everything is Beautiful,' for all the
genuine reporting they provide you. In these advertising flyers
thinly disguised as legitimate periodicals, automotive journalism
is dead, the errand-boy editor serving scant purpose other than
to timidly cede his soul to those ad executives and ad salespersons
who are as addicted to these predators' advertising dollars as
a junkie is to his 'fix.'
1990 until recently I was investigating and reporting (not to
burden you with details of the literally thousands of hours I
expended listening to and assisting the victims of) the roster
of fraud and consumer-abuse stratagems employed by a certain
Florida-based telepredator that masqueraded as a legitimate replicar
manufacturerand denying them access to advertising in our
publications. Throughout that entire 8-year span of time, the
kit car and streetrod magazine editors and executives coughed
up a litany of lame excuses why there was nothing that they could
do. It's an affront to one's common sense when they whimper that
even if they received 10,000 serious and substantiated complaints
and affidavits about a given advertiser, why, shucks... shuffle
my feet... they could be held liable if they attempted to
report these complaints to their readers or if (heaven forbid!)
they denied them advertising. There was plenty that I could do...
and did do, and did endure... as a small publisher, but, curiously,
there was nothing that the big motorcar magazine publishers could
do. Nothing that is, other than to continue to push and shove
and scramble and lunge for those conscience-canceling greenbacks.
Doing what's right isn't a subject of serious discussion
anywhere in their corporate corridors.
there was always one common-denominator thread of assurance among
the kit car / hot rod / streetrod editors
and executives and ad peddlers: if they (the telepredators) ever
wind up convicted of these alleged crimes, why, sure, we'll surely
report that, and we'd certainly deny them any further advertising.
Okay, Kit Car, Kit Car Illustrated, Hot Rod, Street Rodder,
Rod & Custom, American Rodder... okay, Petersen Publishing,
McMullen Argus / Primedia, Paisano Publications et
al.... Think fast: what's your excuse this time around? That
telemarketer... you know, guys, your pals the bucket-'o'-boodle
multi-page color advertiser, ruthless abuser and swindler of
your readers... were convicted of federal criminal charges in
Southern District Federal Court in Miami on 18 January 1999;
furthermore, they settled a megadollar-civil suit (in behalf
of over 2,000 of that firm's victims who had filed claims) with
the Florida Attorney General's office the very next day. The
vast majority of these victims were cheated out of their money,
their dream for the car of their dreams in ruins, because of
the big, tantalizing, mega-profitable "come hither" / 800-number
4-color display ads they responded to from right there in your
kit car and hot rod magazines.
you read a word about these criminal convictions or civil awards / regulatory
agency settlements in these magazines? I'll provide your answer
once again: Nope. Even though the lion's share of those replicar
enthusiasts were sucked into that vortex of villainy by their
own publications, and even though those victims have repeatedly
lamented that they had trusted that these magazines must surely
check out these big advertisers for legitimacy (sigh) before
permitting them to advertise... Nope. And you won't. And no,
they don't... or more aptly put, "You've got to be kidding."
You see, those same periodical publishers are still frantically
stuffing their Cap'n Kangaroo-capacity pockets with these telepredators'
advertising dollars, sailing right along under the false colors
that nothing is amiss, smugly confident that you'll never know
the difference. Oh! And fear not that the magazines themselves
will again fall victim to these scalawags: you see, they now
demand advance payment from suspect advertisers. It's okay that
their readers are gonna get ripped off, but the magazines quietly
invoke strict measures to ensure that their own rearside is covered.
A truly lovely couple, this blissful union of fraudsters and
adsters. Kinda gives you the warm fuzzies. Reliable reports have
it that many of these magazine hirelings have been diagnosed
with blepharospasms (i.e., chronic involuntary twitching
of the eyelids), attributed to their years of endless winking
at the outrages perpetrated upon their own readers.
car and streetrod magazine publishers, executives, ad salespersons,
editors... Petersen Publishing, McMullen Argus / Primedia,
Paisano Publications: have you no shame? Must you blatantly
remind us each month that your appetite for betraying your readers'
trust has no limit, no bounds? Each and every month for the past
twenty-five years you've had more than ample opportunity to do
the right thing and alert your unsuspecting readers to the menace
lurking in your pages. And you never did. Damn you, damn you,
damn you, you never did.
bottom line? As long as the ad hucksters enjoy carte blanche
to dictate policy... that is to say, as long as the heartless
horsemen named Unbridled Greed and Galloping Contempt
for our Readers wield the whip at the magazines... the editors
will continue to be compelled to "see no evil, hear no evil,
report no evil and pretend to be aware of no evil"... and
you'll continue to be dutifully delivered up to the telemarketing
what about their repeated assurances that they'd report to you
the details if this or any other of their mega-predator advertiser
pals wound up with a criminal conviction? The answer, my friend,
is blowing in the wind.
job!! Thank god there's still a few people in the world that
respect truth and honesty, as you do. And, as for Florida being
a safe haven for sleazy (telemarketers), it doesn't surprise
me at all...