Wednesday, September 30, 2009 Sues Yahoo To Reveal Blogger's Identity

By Chris Walters is one of those online companies that offers a free trial, and then attempts to enroll its customers in a $30/month subscription service. Now they're suing Yahoo in an attempt to reveal an anonymous blogger who quoted a Reuters article when criticizing the service, and who pointed out that Freescore is owned by a company with a reputation for billing customers without permission.

You may have seen Ben Stein hawking on your TV in recent months. (It's why he was fired from the New York Times in August, in fact, because of a perceived conflict of interest.) It's no different from any other "free" credit report nonsense out there in that after a short trial period—7 days in this case—you have to pay for what you can get for free once a year from The company exists to lure in people who don't mind paying unnecessary fees, as well as people who don't read fine print, as well as those who do read fine print but forget to cancel within that 7 day window. is even more obnoxious in that it will charge you $1 to access your "free" initial results; the fine print says that if you choose to cancel within 7 days, "remember to ask for a refund of your $1 processing fee."

For those reasons, Reuters blogger Felix Salmon called Stein a "predatory bait-and-switch merchant" in July, and someone called "Flâneur de fraude" added to the claim in a blog post, where he showed that Freescore is ultimately owned by Vertrue Inc., a company that has a BBB rating of "F", mostly due to complaints that Vertrue's various membership companies enrolled customers without their knowledge or permission.

Somehow, that spurred Freescore to retaliate with legal action. But what's weird is although they're making a lot of noise about defamation and trade libel, and they've filed a suit with Yahoo to get Flâneur's real name revealed, they haven't actually argued that anything Flâneur posted was false. They haven't even gone after Felix Salmon, the original blogger at Reuters.

So is planning on suing Flâneur if they can find out her real name? If so, for what? As you can see from her blog post, the original content she added to the story was all about tracing ownership and pointing out the history of complaints against Freescore's parent company.

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