-------- Original Message --------
Subject: COMPLAINT about WRite2Help.org / Michael Patterson
Date: Tue, 14 Apr 2009 20:14:36 -0400
April 14, 2009
Michael Patterson, Founder - firstname.lastname@example.org
P.O. Box 3986
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
Email - email@example.com
WritersWeekly.com has received a complaint about:
WRite2Help.org / Michael Patterson
WritersWeekly.com is a publication that publishes information for
and about freelance writers. The publication is the
largest-circulation freelance writing ezine in the world.
As part of that information, WritersWeekly.com publishes a Warnings
section on its website and in its newsletter. This warning section
contains reports about publications that are unprofessional in
dealing with writers, haven't paid writers money that is owed to
them, who have not abided by their contracts, or who have unfair
contract terms. These reports are used by WritersWeekly.com's
to decide which publications they should and should not work with.
Your firm has been submitted to us for inclusion in the
WritersWeekly.com Whispers and Warnings section.
Step one of our investigation of this report is to gather all
relevant correspondence between your publication and the person
submitting the complaint so that we can piece together that person's
side of the story. Step one of our investigation has been completed.
[EB] (name not published here but was, of course, provided to the company)
alleges that you advertise specific prize monies
will be paid to winners of your contests...but that the "fine print" of
your terms allows you to pay far less.
See complete allegation under my signature.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
The second step in our investigation is to send this communication
to your firm to get its side of the story. If you have evidence
disputing these allegations, or would like to make your own
statement about these allegations for publication in our report, please
within two business days.
***All correspondence for our investigations must be in writing and
is subject to publication.***
If you do owe this person money, we strongly suggest you read
this article before responding:
http://www.writersweekly.com/the_latest ... 32006.html
Our report on your firm is scheduled for inclusion in our
publication next Wednesday, though it may appear in our Whispers and
Warnings forum before that time.
If there is no response to these allegations, WritersWeekly.com will
still publish this complaint, but our readers will not be able to
read your side of the story.
We appreciate your prompt response in this matter.
Date: April 13, 2009 4:00:16 PM EDT
Subject: A whisper and warning
I don't recall seeing their announcements in WritersWeekly, but a word
of caution is in order re: Write2help.org.
This organisation is highly suspect. It holds periodic contests that
offer prizes, according to their website, of $1000 for first prize, $250
for second and $100 for third, with an entry fee of $10 per story.
Paragraph four of their terms and conditions states, among other things:
"SPONSOR reserves the right to adjust the amount of prize monies awarded
or to substitute prizes for this contest depending on the number of
entries received as well as other factors as deemed pertinent by, and at
the sole discretion of, SPONSOR."
A story of mine was selected as the second place winner in their first
contest (which ended in December, 2008). In keeping with that rule, and,
according to their prize notification e-mail "Due to a low number of
entries to the contest, and to ensure maximum donation to World Relief,
the prize amount awarded to the 2nd prize winner has been changed to $25."
While a thorough reading of their rules -- which I acknowledge I did not
make before entering -- reveals this and other potential pitfalls, it
appears the organization has done nothing illegal. Their conduct,
however, is questionable (for example: neither the website nor the
e-mails they have sent contain the name of anyone connected to
Write2Help; they are signed simply "Support Staff Write2Help.org"; and
their prize notification e-mail -- dated January 2, 2009 -- states
winners have five business days to reply or risk forfeiting their prize;
I received the e-mail January 9th. Their rules also state they are not
responsible for any delay in the transmission of notifications by e-mail
I sent them a certified letter (which was returned as unclaimed), and
they responded to a later e-mail by simply saying, in effect, I should
have read the rules.
I will provide copies of my correspondence with them to any interested
person, and you may publish my e-mail address.
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE: COMPLAINT about WRite2Help.org / Michael Patterson
Date: Tue, 14 Apr 2009 18:36:44 -0700
From: Write2Help.Org <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thanks for writing.
I'm not sure what I can add to this.
Everything is clearly spelled out in our terms and conditions, which are
clearly linked from each of the individual contest pages.
The mission of Write2Help.Org is to raise funds for charity, NOT to
The entirety of our funds (including prize monies) comes directly from
contest entries as we do not yet have corporate sponsors to provide
We offer the rewards as an incentive for writers to enter, but at the
same time, if enough writers don't enter the contest we cannot possibly
extend the advertised prizes.
This is clearly defined in our Terms & Conditions.
Our response to [EB] was a point-by-point rebuttal of his
claims, it was not as nonchalant and uncaring as [EB]
seems to infer in his complaint.
We apologized and explained the reason that his certified letter was
returned unclaimed. We replied in a very timely fashion to [EB]'s e-mail inquiry.
He has conveniently left this fact out of his complaint to you, and has
continued to imply that we are trying to penalize him in some way or
deceive him with regards to the date of the prize notification e-mail
(regardless of the fact that we have a standing offer for him to collect
his prize money).
Our reply was signed "Support Staff" because it was a response that
was constructed by five different members of our organization.
As it looks here, [EB] is saying that we did nothing
illegal, but that we have "questionable practices" simply because we
didn't identify an individual by name in our response to him.
We simply do not agree to that assessment of our organization.
As he himself stated here, he did not read the rules, which are clearly
We are not looking to deceive anyone and we frankly believe [EB]'s
complaint(s) are based on the fact that he did not
receive an expected monetary gain.
We are greatly discouraged at [EB]'s lack of understanding
of our organization's mission.
As he stated in his initial correspondence with us, and as he has stated
in this complaint to you, we did nothing illegal.
We have steadfastly offered [EB] the opportunity to redeem
his prize, however he has not respond to our offer, and instead, has
resorted to filing empty claims and complaints.
We have not received any other complaints from the other winners, and in
fact, one of our other winners even donated her winnings back to our
We have copied our correspondences here for you to review.
We would appreciate NOT being included in your warnings section.
Please feel free to write back with any questions to email@example.com
We anxiously await your reply,
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: COMPLAINT about WRite2Help.org / Michael Patterson
Date: Wed, 15 Apr 2009 10:58:04 -0400
To: Write2Help.Org <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Advertising on your website that your prizes are $100, $250 and $1000,
but not posting a note right under that saying the prize amount can vary
based on the number of participants, is misleading. Some might consider
this fraud. While you do tell the truth in your terms and conditions,
nobody would ever expect a company to include fine print that states the
prizes may not be as boldly advertised. So, you're luring writers in
with big prize promises, charging them $10, and then surprising them
later. Claiming the terms and conditions protect you from your own
actions is pretty ridiculous, in our opinion. Companies with similar
deceptive practices have been investigated by the federal government.
And, there are specific contest guidelines set in place by the federal
Your firm's mission is of no relevance to this complaint. You promise to
pay the winners $100, $250 and $1000 in a large, bold font on your
website, but contradicting that on a different page, in a much smaller font, and 4
paragraphs down is confusing and, again, might be considered deceptive
by some. I'm sure our readers will agree.
Perhaps a better response would have been that you would include warning
verbiage on your website in the same place the prize monies are listed.
However, it is clear you intend to keep hiding the truth about your
prizes in your terms and conditions.
We will be publishing a warning about your firm.
Write2Help.org RESPONDED WITH AN EMAIL THAT HE SAID IS "OFF THE RECORD."
In that email, among other things, he claimed his web programmer informed him that he'd used another writing contest website's terms and conditions as a guide "and essentially only replaced the names of the company involved."
So, now you're admitting you're guilty of copyright infringement.
You need to find another line of work.
Write2Help.org SENT ANOTHER "OFF THE RECORD" EMAIL.
AS OF TODAY, APRIL 21, 2009, WRITE2HELP.ORG'S WEBSITE STILL LISTS THE PRIZES IN A LARGE, ATTRACTIVE FONT, YET ONLY PROVIDES THE REAL DETAILS
in the fourth paragraph of their terms and conditions, on a different web page, and in a smaller font.