Spyware Doctor cheats People ?

Discussion in 'other anti-malware software' started by Bubba, Feb 16, 2005.

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  1. Bubba

    Bubba Updates Team

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    From the Spybot Search & Destroy News link:

    Please beware! 17. January 2005

     
  2. pctools

    pctools Registered Member

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    Hello, on behalf of PC Tools, the publisher of Spyware Doctor.

    The term 'spybot' is a common term that has been in use since the early 1990's, originally as an abbreviation for 'spying robots' (a search of Google Groups will confirm this), many years before the competitor released their product. We can only speculate, but this is probably the reason the developer of 'Spybot Search & Destroy' incorporated a common Spyware term in the product title, with the literal meaning of 'search and destroy spybots'.

    We most certainly do not use the brand name of any other software to sell Spyware Doctor. I would assume that if you did a search on any generic spyware terminologies such as keylogger, trojan, spybot, spyware or tracking threats you would also receive search results mentioning Spyware Doctor and/or PC Tools.

    Due to the success rate of our award winning Spyware Doctor and ever increasing sales and customer satisfaction feedback, I would expect our company to increase it's profile in search results on an ongoing basis.

    Bear in mind we also do offer a 30 day money back guarantee on all our award winning software, so customers always have ample opportunity to obtain a refund regardless of the reasons involved.

    Regards,

    PC Tools
     
  3. Detox

    Detox Retired Moderator

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    Seems odd that this is the first "paid for" link in google when you put in "spybot." The link name is rather coincidental if nothing else.

     
  4. dread

    dread Registered Member

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    I agree Detox. Just stop using spybot Pctools if that is the case.
     
  5. ipje

    ipje Registered Member

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    This is not cheating, if people take the time to read and not clicking on everything they see then there is no problem.
     
  6. bellgamin

    bellgamin Very Frequent Poster

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    Spyware Doctor's ad uses the term "search to destroy" -- IMHO that is an obvious (NON-coincidental) tactic designed to mislead searchers into believing that it is the "Search AND Destroy" part of Spybot S&D's name.
     
  7. Randy_Bell

    Randy_Bell Registered Member

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    Why would people think they had "purchased" SpyBot S&D? It is still free, right? SpyBot S&D is not for sale, and I have to wonder about people who wouldn't know the difference o_O Hmmm .. OH Well .. :D :)
     
  8. Detox

    Detox Retired Moderator

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    It is free - but when considering the masses it surely works quite well. This forum is mostly frequented by people who either deal with this stuff on a professional level or are at least amateurs or hobbyists in the area. That's a great minority - Many people would trust such associates who said "you should get "Spybot Search and Destroy" without asking if it was free/pay software. They remember only part of it or search just for "search destroy" - come to someone else's product with a very similar (paid for) search phrase such as this in Google, right? Then they think to themselves "Oh, he must have said (or meant) search to destroy." It's like phishing in that manner - you can still catch plenty of people "unawares" and make a lot of dough.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2005
  9. AnthonyG

    AnthonyG Registered Member

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    My auntie two weeks ago when talking to me on the phone said to me that after a friend had said to try to sort out her problematic machine to google for spybot search and destroy so she said that she bought it for i think it was $40.

    I was dumbfounded when she said it as i thought spybot is free. I was thinking why have those gits charged her for it. Now i can suspect what has occured.

    To mr PC Tools using spybot as a search term to your product might be forgivable (not by me but by others) but putting your software as the top result for spybot search and destroy is truly disgusting and a total underhanded tactic to mislead people. It is simpy playing on the uneducated. As you are charging (quite highly IMO) for an inferior product than that of spybot.

    I dont think that is on and i hope others agree.

    Here is a google search i have just done for spybot search and destroy!
     

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  10. gud4u

    gud4u Registered Member

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    PCTools pays an advertising fee to Google - so their ad shows up when you search for any product in the spyware tool category.

    What's wrong with that? Is PCTools not allowed to advertise? Is Google not allowed to collect paid ad revenue?

    If you feel there is something dishonest, misleading or deceptive about this practice - why not bad-mouth Google as well?

    Webroot (or any other anti-spyware vendor) could do the same, if they chose to pay a similar ad fee to Google for the same advertising exposure.

    I don't see a problem here - with either PCTools or Google.
     
  11. AnthonyG

    AnthonyG Registered Member

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    Because they are misleading people to think that their retail product is spybot search and destroy a free product.

    So they are getting people to hand over their hard earned cash for something they did not want (because they clearly wanted spybot search and destroy) and didnt need to pay for (because they can an equal or better product for free).

    I think it is completely underhanded in my opinion very similar in its tactics to phishing in my opinion.
     
  12. Detox

    Detox Retired Moderator

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    Google has no idea whether I am searching for a product in any certain catagory when i search "search destroy."

    Sure, but they ought to pay Google to pop their name up with words other than the name of their competitor, IMO.

    You are probably right - but it may not be illegal. I am not sure if the process of advertising through google links is automated or not either. Should it be automated, then Google might not be expected to be aware of what the context is in this case.

    Yes they could - but we'll have to hope that they would choose to pay Google to link them when people search for their own product name - not the names built on other people's blood, sweat and tears. The word I would use to describe the practice of paying Google to pop up a certain product when the name of a competitor is searched for would be "unethical." I am of the admittedly old-fashioned opinion that an entrepreneur should drum up their own business instead of... this.
     
  13. mercurie

    mercurie A Friendly Creature

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    Yes, I agree with Bellgamin and Detox on this one. I can just see the elder newbie users getting tripped up on this. And shame on Element 5 now owned by Digital River for not at least offering some help. There are ways to deal with this. :p
     
  14. ipje

    ipje Registered Member

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    They are not misleading people, if you can't see the different in google results between spyware doctor and S&D there is something wrong with you're eyes, after that you go to install a program with the name SPYWARE DOCTOR and not a program with the name SPYBOT S&D, after that you have a trial period, if you then still thinking you are using S&D then you are stupid.
    A few people here make a big problem about this, maybe it is because Spyware doctor is a better program and they don't like that.
     
  15. pctools

    pctools Registered Member

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    Thanks to everyone for expressing there opinions, due to the number of replies I won't address every point but some of the main ones.

    1. "spybot" is a common term is has been in use for many years, long before the product "Spybot Search and Destroy" was written and released. To try and remove this term from usage by anyone else would be like us trying to stop other people using "spyware" because we called our product "Spyware Doctor".

    2. We clearly mention our product name in the ad and on the landing page, there is absolutely no way someone could be confused by which product they are getting. In no way do our ads mention any association between our product and Spybot Search & Destroy. We also offer a 30 day money back guarantee, so anyone who believes they bought someone elses product when buying ours should be able to realise this in the 30 day period and claim a refund. As far as I'm aware we have had *no* reported refund requests due to this "issue".

    3. Other legitimate companies use similar advertising, have a look at www.spybot.com for example.

    4. Should everyone stop all advertising that mentions spyware, key loggers, Trojans, Adware, Malware, Cookies and others because someone has incorporated that term into their product name?

    5. We can not go into the specifics of the discussions with the developer of Spybot S&D but we attempted to discuss the issue in a professional way but all we received was very abusive responses and threats. We understand that Element5 received similar responses and hence their decision to stop communication with the person involved. There is absolutely no justification to threaten people who are just doing their job.

    6 . There are proper ways to deal with these types of issues. We deal with people stealing our content, using our trademarks, advertising on our product name, pirating our software everyday. But we deal with it in a professional and legal manner by working with the proper authorities. We certainly do not take rogue action, make threats and post defamatory statements on the Internet.

    Some other things to consider, we are a legitimate company with real people doing real jobs. We have a large team of very experienced malware researchers which is why we offer daily updates and are consistently ahead on threats. We have a development team continually improving the product which is one of the reasons we came #2 in the latest PC Magazine round-up. We are in top 3 in the world for downloads and new users. We have many 5/5 ratings from magazines, sites and reviewers.

    In summary it's disappointing that we have this issue, but in general most people see it for what it is, a under-handed attack by a competitor who is loosing "income" (this was a reason mentioned in the threats). We are not happy with the way this has worked out, but instead of sinking to the same level we are instead focused on improving our product and moving forward.

    Hopefully this clears up some confusion and we can put this issue to rest.
     
  16. slemerond

    slemerond Registered Member

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    Get over it. I went to PC tools website and there would be no way I would mistake Spyware Doctor with Spybot S&D. Even when you do a search there are other companies that are using Spybot also. One even says Search and Destroy Free. I would think people would mistake that one for S&D before Spyware Doctor but I don't hear anyone complaining about that.
    The way I see it is someone saw that a company was doing well with the sale of their product and they could'nt have that so they just figured they would smear their name, funny it's just like politics.

    Lurch
     
  17. Paranoid2000

    Paranoid2000 Registered Member

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    Similar words is one thing, similar phrases is quite another. No one can reasonably take issue with "Spyware Doctor", but adding the (artificial in this context) phrase "search to destroy" shows a clear intent to confuse your product with S&D. If you are serious about avoiding accusations of confusing consumers, then you should remove this phrase.
    Your advertising, as mentioned above, does try to make an association by using the oh-so-similar phrase "search to destroy". Your web page includes adaware and spybot in its meta tags which, although not visible to users, does get picked up by some search engines.
    Well according to your refund policy section 3, refunds are only made for unresolved technical problems - are you prepared to extend this to cover consumer confusion with Spybot S&D?
    I would disagree with your choice of the word "legitimate" here, but this thread is about Spyware Doctor and PCTools. Just because other companies are using deceptive marketing does not justify PCTools doing so also.
    Ah, the good old strawman argument. Nobody has suggested removing common terms, merely a phrase specific to the title of one product.
    If you cannot go into specifics then why mention this? "Abusive" is a subjective term and if you are not going to include specific quotes to allow others here to make their own judgement, then you have little business mentioning this.
    Rather than just implying that your "competitor" does all the above, why not include specific examples?
    Suggesting perhaps that those people who volunteer their time to provide free advice and free tools do not do real jobs? Not a view that would gain you brownie points here...
    Since Spybot S&D is free (with donations being optional) how can loss of income be an issue? If they have to spend time and effort dealing with complaints from Spyware Doctor purchasers then there is a financial loss involved - but then that is quite clearly something that your company should be responsible (and paying compensation) for.
    Not to mention making innuendo-laden posts suggesting that your "competitor" is abusive, unprofessional and acting illegally.

    If you wish to defend your position, well this is a public forum and (subject to the TOS) you can post as you wish. However if you wish to convince regulars here of your good intentions, you need to demonstrate that you are taking concrete action (not just making defensive justifications) to avoid confusing consumers. Webroot and Giant (pre-MS buyout) were able to market their product without riding on Spybot's or AdAware's coat-tails, so why can't PCTools?
     
  18. pctools

    pctools Registered Member

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    We appreciate this is a hot topic and one people may get emotionally charged about, and as mentioned we have no intention into getting into a flaming match, but to clear up some points.

    Our money-back guarantee on SD is 30-days for any reason, the returns policy notes that the unresolved technical issue is only if "Unless otherwise indicated" (i.e. one of our products without a 30-day MBG).

    Yes, I would consider the majority of products at this page legitimate.

    That's the core of the argument, "spybot" is a common term, "Spybot Search and Destroy" is a descriptive title using a common term.

    For legal reasons we won't reproduce the emails here. Further, the language is not be acceptable and I doubt it would get through the censor filters.

    The mis-information on the competitors website is case in point.

    Not at all, WinGuides (where PC Tools started) has been a free community forum providing technical support and help since 1998, that's how we cut our teeth, so we certainly recognize the contribution of free communities.

    Donations are good business, we know several partners making fantastic revenues off donations, considering the popularity of Spybot S&D it's probably very profitable but of course no one knows but the developer. Further, in their emails to us, Spybot S&D have accused us of "damaging" their "income".

    As mentioned we have not heard of any complaints, nor to our knowledge had element5 prior to this issue.

    We have stated facts, most of which (apart from emails) can be externally verified.
     
  19. Paranoid2000

    Paranoid2000 Registered Member

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    Thanks for the clarification but the wording on your refund policy webpage has not been altered to reflect this and the Spyware Doctor Refund Policy FAQ certainly does not indicate that the money-back guarantee is unconditional. As such, may I suggest that you update these pages to include your statement on Spyware Doctor?
    Having checked that page I would agree - but would point out that the domain is registered to a third party (Howard Goff) who appears to be profiting via affiliate links. As such, the site has nothing to do with the vendors listed and while I would certainly consider this underhand, at least there is a link to the proper Spybot S&D site and he does not try to confuse the general public about the products that are offered.
    "Spybot Search and Destroy" is a product name - including the similar term "Search to Destroy" in your competing product's advertising shows a clear intent to mislead and confuse the public. Such practices are prohibited in most juristictions (see Article 3, section 18 of the International Chamber of Commerce Guidelines on Marketing and Advertising using Electronic Media or European Advertising Directive 84/450/EEC for examples).
    If you mean Safer-Networking.org then their page says the following:

    If you search for the keyword Spybot on Altavista or some other search engines, you'll got a bunch of sponsored results. One of them is Spyware Doctor, who seem to be agressively using our name Spybot to advertise their software. We receive a bunch of emails every week from people complaining to us and asking for a refund. After some mails we usually find out that those people believed they had bought Spybot-S&D, but actually got Spyware Doctor.

    Don't see anything misleading here, assuming we accept their word about receiving the emails.

    PC Tools' attorney Darren Sommers sees nothing bad in cheating people that way. We did contact Element 5, the company they use for their payments (and which btw is used by Lavasoft as well) for any help we could give to those people who were cheated and contacted by us. Ms. Schulte-Hoberg from Element 5 reacted by rejecting any help to people who where cheated by PC Tools. Element 5 did even block all our email addresses to avoid any more about this.

    Unless they got your attorney's or Element 5's representative's names wrong, I can't see much scope for misinformation here either.

    As there is nothing we can do to help, and Element 5 rejects any cooperation in getting the cheated people refunds, we can only recommend to write letters of complaint to Element 5, and, if you were cheated yourself, contact us at legal@spybot.info so that we can confront them with a huge bunch of cases.

    An offer of help - any problem with this?

    In short, if there is mis-information on this page, it is beyond my ability to spot it, though their advice could be improved on since credit-card purchasers should be able to request a chargeback. Perhaps you could enlighten us?
    Nice to know - so I guess we have real jobs after all. :)
    If they are having to deal with irate Spyware Doctor purchasers, then that certainly would damage their income in that they have to spend time and money dealing with a problem of your making. However since Spybot S&D is a free product and yours is not, I'd be more inclined to give them the benefit of any doubt.
    That's the benefit of confusing advertising - people think they have your competitor's product so they go to them to complain! Your refund policy would doubtless have been an effective disincentive to complainants also.
    Your post includes a contradiction, well, let's be generous and call it an "expansion" of your refund policy, an opinion, an incorrect description and an allegation of mis-information on a website which is (in my view at least) unsubstantiated.

    The main issue here is PCTool's use of the term "Search to Destroy" in its advertising - it should be a simple matter to coin an alternative (if you wish, you could even open a thread here for suggestions or a poll to find the most popular phrase) and put an end to any allegations of consumer confusion. If PCTools values its online reputation and believes that Spyware Doctor can sell on its own merits, then this is a small step to take. Are you willing?
     
  20. Mandy.

    Mandy. Registered Member

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    Thank you Paranoid200 for holding them accountable -- at least in this forum.

    It would seem that at a minimun they would agree to remove the phrase that could be easily confused, the that may be in violation of advertising standards.

    I admit, I now have to question their sincerity in this regard, and thus, their overall credibility.
     
  21. JRCATES

    JRCATES Registered Member

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    What's with this searching for 6 month old threads to blast a product o_O

    I'm more than a little dumbfounded that anyone would rehash a topic that hasn't been posted in for 6 months simply to rip a product....
     
  22. Mandy.

    Mandy. Registered Member

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    Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't know it was old. Somehow I followed a link here. Has this been resolved?
     
  23. JRCATES

    JRCATES Registered Member

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    Wow....that's pretty interesting, Mandy. Was it a "Google" search, by any chance?

    This was actually kind of a hot topic back in February, due to the somewhat confusing nature (to some) of advertising pertaining to Spyware Doctor. I'm sure it probably didn't do PC Tools many favors at that time, but I think they've tried to answer and respond as best as they could. But once somebody gets a negative impression of a company or a product, it takes some time to overcome that in a lot of people's minds. And some people may never change their opinion and resent it to this day that this confusion ever took place.

    But it's an ever improving product....just like most of the serious AS products out there (Spy Sweeper, CounterSpy, etc.), and I know that Simon Clausen (of PC Tools) has attended Spyware seminars and conventions like the one attended by Eric Howes and others in San Francisco recently, so I believe that they are dedicated to making their product the best that it can be. And in the battle against malware, that is what we end users can only hope for.... ;)
     
  24. Mandy.

    Mandy. Registered Member

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    No, I clicked the link in the other thread on Spyware Doctor on the front page. And when I saw it was from Bubba, who is one of the guys in this forum who I closely read, I assumed it was legitimate. I'm not yet in the habit of looking at the dates on the posts. But I just thought since it was one of the first threads on the page, that it was recent.

    "Spyware Doctor 3.1 Not Good at all"

    https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=66687


    I certainly do not mean to upset you or anybody else, and I'll look at the dates of information more carefully in the future.
     
  25. Detox

    Detox Retired Moderator

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    It is perfectly legitimate - just a little bit old. Certainly it wouldn't hurt to see the end results of the discussion held here anyway.
     
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