I decided around October of 2012 to create an online auction site – I had been selling items on another venue (Tophatter) but frankly I was fed up with their constant changes and fee increases- the internet is a big place so why not have options? I went about writing up a plan on how the site should look & function – I did my homework and research and added in all the things I thought a Live Auction Site would need I collaborated with friends and family and at one time even had a partner but that did not pan out as expected so I went ahead on my own. I personally hired a programmer to build Bazaarbid from my notes
I announced in Late November that a new live auction site was being built and members joined the group on Facebook eager for updates on launch date- functionality etc.
All questions were answered honestly and with a few stops and starts the platform was built and uploaded to the live server late January 2013- within hours membership grew into the hundreds- and a prospective launch date of February 1 was set and testing began.
Now the interesting information, in the early morning hours of February 4, 2013 a Tophatter employee Katie Nelson, attended a test auction being run by my programming team- See Photo Below-
I emailed her and other Tophatter employees that day thanking her for her interest in my new venture but of course did not hear back from her.
I continued to promote my site and did not give Tophatter a second thought they were another place to sell online but no longer my choice so why concern myself with them? I began receiving messages about people spamming about Bazaarbid on in Tophatter auctions- This was not done by active Bazaarbid members – this was done by people unknown to me-I have my suspicions that the NEW members on Tophatter were put there to throw a bad light on Bazaarbid but of course no proof to back up that theory. This spamming was done just prior to the official Grand Opening of Bazaarbid launching and going live- Jump ahead a bit the site is now live on March 14, 2013 and new members are coming in and seeing first-hand what Bazaarbid is all about- members are learning a new venue and happily uploading products to the site- then all activity seems to have come to a screeching halt. Is it a coincidence that on March 21, 2013 a new member joined Bazaarbid ?
You will notice the Alias- Chrissy Eastridge? But the email is that of CEO Chris Estreich of Tophatter. Why would the CEO of Tophatter join Bazaarbid under a fake name? What exactly was his goal and did he accomplish it? Was a little known Housewife from NJ such a threat to the CEO of Tophatter? His joining now gave him access to the BB layout, BB prices, and members who were attending auctions. Notice I say were attending auctions- because you see attendance has declined rapidly- except for a few steadfast regulars.
I began to wonder what was going on and was made aware of a link issue- you see if a person was to type in www.bazaarbid.com as the business is registered and set up they would indeed be driven to the Bazaarbid platform – but if that same person misspelled it to read www.bazzarbid.com then they were redirected to Tophatter.
The domain name was “owned” by Demand Media– is it a coincidence that they owned the misspelling of my business name and wrote the following review? http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs/2012/02/app_of_the_week_tophatter.php
I again took to email where I wrote the following message:
from: Robin Aldridge <firstname.lastname@example.org>
date: Sat, Apr 27, 2013 at 2:17 PM
subject: A Screen Shot from today
Please let your management team know that I will be looking into Legal action regarding this issue. After it was found the actual link now redirects people to Bazaarbid but the Proof of where it was once directed in in the Screenshot I took TODAY – is one little person from NJ really such a threat to Tophatter? Probably not, the internet is a pretty big place- unfortunately not everyone agrees…
After letting the people at Tophatter know I found their underhanded tactics to be less than professional with the above email the misspelling now directs people to their intended destination. But the damage has clearly been done.
So as my seller base has grown members have been encouraged to contact past customers and let them know they have added Bazaarbid to their list of online selling venues. No one has ever been asked to leave another site and sell exclusively on Bazaarbid. That is an unrealistic expectation- people work from home for a variety of reasons and as a past member of Tophatter I have firsthand knowledge that they have always maintained the stance that–
“Tophatter encourages its sellers to link to their online stores or sales listings anywhere online, he adds. “Buyers can discover interesting items and sellers in our featured auctions, and we have no issue with them buying direct from those sellers off of Tophatter. That’s part of what makes us unique – for sellers, we’re a great marketing vehicle to get exposure to a new audience.”
The above is a direct quote from Andrew Blachman of Tophatter found in this article – dated March 17, 2013
Why after having this article appear in March would Chris Estrich of Tophatter contact a Bazaarbid seller and tell her that it was not right for her to contact the clients that TH has driven to her, and to stop? How many other Bazaarbid members has he done this to that have meekly followed his orders? And how was he made aware of the seller emailing past customers? Another Alias, he purchased an item from her in the past as “Christine” so when she emailed past customers he too received a copy. Now what does all of this mean? Individually people might say it is just another way to do business- but all together? It is a blatant attack on my company and I want it to end. Maybe this blog is only seen by me but one day the truth will come out.