Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Problem with HelloPeter

HelloPeter.com is a web site dedicated to consumer complaints, but it is by no means perfect. I have had successes and failures with the "Companies who Respond", and have noticed some major weaknesses in the system. I think that part of the problem is that Peter needs to "think out of the box" and realise that some of his customers are gaming the system and frustrating his users.
There is also the question of forcing companies to pay for the right to respond. Many critics have said this is tantamount to blackmail, and in some respects I agree. Firsly, there is a R375 fee to register. Then you pay for each complaint received, on some kind of scale that is not published, although the first 4 complaints/compliments per year are free. Thereafter you have to pay for the right to respond.
The problem is that in many cases the response is unhelpful or downright misleading. "We are investigating and will get back to you" is insulting to the person who lodged the complaint, especially when they never get back to you. HelloPeter provides no facility to report this kind of activity. And don't try to complain on HelloPeter about HelloPeter: it's a farce and if you do it too often or in public they block your account.
Another way for a supplier to game the system is to answer the wrong question. Many times I have complained about unsolicited calls or SMS messages, and demanded to know: "Where did you get my number?" In most cases the reply is "We have removed your name from our database". I'm sorry, but that isn't an answer to the question! It says to me: "We refuse to divulge this information because by doing so we would be admitting to breaking the law." Alternatively, "We are too stupid or arrogant to answer the question so we'll say what we think you want to hear instead." Again, you can't report this, although you can try lodging the complaint again. This can become an endless loop.
Peter needs to allow the customer to engage in a public dialogue with the supplier, perhaps allowing several replies from both sides, and allowing each party to rate (in public) the relevance and helpfulness of the other's reply. Also, Peter needs to allow the party being complained about the right of reply. Delay the registration fee until after the first 4 responses, to give your potential customers a chance to see how well (or badly) the system works. Peter, are you listening to your customers? Hello? Peter?

12 comments:

Jonathan Trott said...

This is a very relevant article for anyone interested in measuring satisfaction survey and customer complaints. Especially the automation part I find quite interesting and relevant.
Customer Complaints

Anonymous said...

I have tried to have a post that I lodged removed as there is no option for users to edit or remove a post once it has been submitted and I have sent hellopeter's administrator 3 emails on the matter - to no avail. Next move will have to be a phone call so I concur 100% with your own sentiments - very frustrating.

Anonymous said...

@HellopeterFraud. Follow this to remove all doubt that HelloPeter is one BIG scam.

Anonymous said...

Hello Peter is an absolute scam of a company as to date they have NEVER been able to close a business due to complaints and they have never increased ANY business' turnover due to any compliments so I have NO IDEA why any intelligent person or successful business would EVER pay to respond to any complaints!
Too savy to be caught by the Hello Peter scam!

Earth Africa Curio said...

Hello Peter is an absolute scam. We had a minor complaint against our company Earth Africa Curio when a private consumer Chris Scott tried to buy on a wholesale basis. He complained that the products were poor quality, we deal in African handmade products www.earthafricacurio.com and we asked him to return the products for a refund. We never got the products back even though he said he sent them twice. Eventually after numerous phone calls from him we decided to refund him anyway which we did as the value was small and not worth the time wasted. Chris Scott sent a scathing report to Hello Peter and blatantly lied about not receiving the refund and left out more info than he put in. Hello Peter never once verified the information to be correct but went straight ahead and published it. We picked up the article on google six months later and when we tried to defend ourselves on Hello Peter we found that we had to pay an admin fee of about R450.00. We sent through an email to Hello Peter to complain and informed them the complaint against us was untrue. They in turn contacted Chris Scott who stuck to his story that he had not been refunded - WE HAVE THE BANK TRANSFER TO CHRIS SCOTT TO PROVE WE HAVE PAID. Hello Peter is not interested in consumer complaints or justice for the consumer, they are only there to make money fraudulently. Their method of business is tantamount to blackmail where they make you pay them to defend yourself even though you may be totally innocent. Since this incident I have researched Hello Peter and found a lot of other companies / people accusing them of fraud and blackmail. I intend spreading the word on the nefarious business practices of Hello Peter on every forum I can find.

Anonymous said...

2X VICTIMS OF A SCAM WERE CONNED BY """STEPHEN ALEN"" USING MY COMPANY NAME container smart cc {nothing to do with container smart} but the victims didnt even try and contact my company before putting my company name on hello peter what can be done help urgently needed to obviously remove my company name from the site please email tonydesouza123@gmail.com

Flying Tiger said...

www.hellopeter.com

this scam site has listed my company AA Energy with false info about an alleged bad deal my company was involved in - all of which is false.

Unlike a normal legitimate reporting site this criminal site forces victims of false claims to pay money to submit a report contradicting the original scammers who listed us.

The man who runs the site is also a scammer himself, guilty of false reporting and making up stories about businesses. There is a thin cover of apparently legitimate complaints on the site but it is a criminal enterprise run out of africa to blackmail businesses into silencing fake complaints.

I have also reported him to AFP, FBI, etc. but he is in your jurisdiction.

Please act promptly to stop this criminal extortion racket.

Guy McLaren said...

I too have a report on hello Peter alleging fraud, Peter has not responded to emails and I will not pay his extortion.

Flying Tiger said...

I reported the hellopeter scam site to the south african police- with no result. The suggested that we retain lawyers.

That is what we have now done.

If south africa wants to earn the same odious reputation as nigeria with attendant bank risk- this scam site hellopeter is really doing wonders to help that process along.

Donn Edwards said...

@Flying Tiger: I think you need to try a less confrontational approach. Lawyers aren't going to help, and the SAPS isn't going to investigate a problem without solid evidence.

You clearly have no idea about South Africa's banking system, or commercial environment. Calm down and think.

Lawyers will just waste your time and your money. They have no vested interest in the outcome, and the longer the conflict lasts the more money they make.

If someone is making false claims about your company, publish a press release on your web site alleging the false information with a "nofollow" link to the complaint on HP. The complaint is removed after a year anyway.

In the meantime a forthright (but not hysterical) denial on your site indicates you have nothing to hide.

Then publish a small notice in Noseweek magazine with the same information, and your reputation will be fine.

Thabo Letsoalo said...

The idea behind Hellopeter is a good one. I just think that they stopped improving it with feedback (like this one). That is why I developed the Ratebob app, www.ratebob.com and intend to continue responding to feedback from users.

Bruce Haralambous said...

Hello Peter is a scam.

It allows people or competition, i.e. competing companies to make false claims, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

Bruce Haralambous


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