- Thermal Audit
Government based consumer protection is ineffective. Consumer activism via the web is threatened too because freedom of speech is rapidly mutating into freedom to speak as long as no significant commercial interest is offended.
Consider the following:
- Journalists (mainstream media) have written to give thanks and note that they would lose their jobs if they dared even suggest that an obvious scam product was a scam. Instead they answer questions from their readers with a link to pages on this site.
- When particularly ignorant e-mails or web form comments arrive here and get published as an example of the kind of people behind the scams, a common legal tactic is to claim that the unsolicited e-mails are in fact, copyright by the sender and then demand their removal for copyright infringement.
- Some manufacturers insist that as a condition of receiving a response to an inquiry, that any reply must be kept confidential and disclosure is prohibited. For example, "We send email replies only for the purpose of responding to specific questions from customers. We strictly forbid transfer, secondary use or disclosure to any third party, of all or part of the contents of such replies without our permission."
- One scam, via a congressional funding request (in response to lobby monies), resulted in the US government purchasing the product for testing and concluding it was useless. This in turn allowed the truthful product claim, “used by the US government”. That review is archived until someone wants to volunteer to publish knowing that their domain registrar will immediately be sued and and an international law firm is looking forward to billing against their client's retainer.
- A product that catches fire gets reported by this site to regulatory agencies, only to be ignored on a technicality because the owner didn’t file the complaint. The manufacturer then offers a free replacement unit provided the home owner sign a non-disclosure agreement and remove any photos of the fire from the internet.
- An engineer took pictures of the guts of a device he drilled out, and the pictures were posted here. The photos made it quite clear the device was a scam and made from junk you can get at the hardware store. The scammers then sent a legal team to his physical workplace to threaten the company for reverse engineering. The company, wanting avoid trouble, threatened to fire their senior engineer who in turn begged this site to remove the pictures as soon as possible, which was done.
The sociopathic behavior of many manufacturers and the almost total impunity for internet scam artists is a microcosm of the larger financial and political reality. Just look at www.zerohedge.com for financial lawlessness and http://www.salon.com/writer/glenn_greenwald/ for a look at the political lawlessness. One could argue that given the trillion dollar swindles, endless wars and institutionalized murder foisted upon humanity by the financial oligarchy, that protecting people from mere rip offs or the occasional home burning down is just trivial. If we give up fighting the small things due to cynicism we lose something very important – our belief that we can make a difference and that fighting sociopathic behavior everywhere it is found is indeed important. We will leave the bigger things to the Glenn Greenwalds and Tylers of the world and continue to provide technical expertise to expose scams.
Scams are big business. When the State of Texas sued Water4Gas, they estimated 3,197 Texans purchased the water4gas manual for a total of $310,109. This is serious money when scaled up world wide. Google also profits handsomely too. Thousands of affiliates install pre-packaged web sites to promote products and have to pay Google for every ad clicked. Given that many scams return hundreds of thousands of google hits and the high cost of certain key words -- I expect that Google makes more money off scamming the public than anyone else.
How you can help
If you want to contribute, please send links to questionable products. Most of the reviews here originated as requests from readers. If you have the financial resources or balls of steel, consider hosting some of the more litigious scammer's product reviews knowing that you will absolutely be sued if they can find you. I would be interested in organizing a swarm of sites willing to host any scam review that results in legal harassment, with the copyright automatically being transferred into the public domain so that there would be no way for this site to recall the article. Knowing that legally harassing this site over a page would result in a thousand copies all over the world, could be a massive deterrent.
Angry mail and hate mail:
We get a surprising amount of irate letters that leave me speechless, and we can't tell whether the writers are baiting me or just unstable people. Some of the more common complaints we will address below:
- We will not sign a non-disclosure agreement in return for learning more about your product.
- We do not purchase the products in the deceptions series because it is not necessary. For example we do not need to purchase a perpetual machine nor try to convert a truck to run on water to prove these ideas do not work. We also do not wish to waste money nor support these schemes. If we thought the product might actually work, we would buy one and try it.
- We do not want to see your utility bills. This is not because we do not believe you, it is just that it proves nothing except that your bills are different. Your bill may be lower this month compared to last year, but the reason is almost certainly not due to your new "energy saving" device. There are just far too many variables such as outdoor temperatures, frequency and length of showers, visitors, thermostat settings, etc. to be able to draw any conclusions. The only way to control all these things is to test it in a laboratory.
- Customer testimonials unfortunately, are not proof. Sometimes they are invented. Other times, people incorrectly attribute any improvements to the device. If you ever wonder why drug trials have a group of people getting a fake drug (the placebo) it is precisely for this reason. Just having a new device installed can change your behavior and behavior can affect your energy usage.
- UL and CSA approvals are safety oriented certifications. You can have a device that is "listed" but this does not mean that it works as advertised. Even an empty metal box can be UL or CSA approved. It just means it is unlikely that you will get an electrical shock and can be legally installed.
It is important that you report all scams. The more complaints there are in the federal databases, the more likely these scams will be investigated and shut down.