Franklin Goose, You Suck
by Penny Saver on March 19, 2011
Welcome, new readers from Facebook, Twitter, forums, and blogs discussing the Franklin Goose fiasco. I know a lot of you guys were screwed with this scam and would love to hear your story in the comments. Also, please consider subscribing for free money-saving tips through RSS or e-mail and following me on Facebook or Twitter.
How it All Began
A year ago, I posted about a Franklin Goose promotion wherein they would pay $5 per review on their website. Excited to use the credit toward my $100 Holiday, I spent hours writing honest, quality reviews of products I’ve used, and accrued several hundred dollars in credits. They requested that people “bank” their credits, saying on their blog on 3/26/10:
In an effort to swallow the astounding number of reviews and orders, we are offering you as much as 20% if you postpone and bank your store credit between 6 months and 1 year.
Simply login to Franklin Goose and click on the links to bank your credit on the account page!
The more you bank, the more you help us. Besides perhaps you can get new products as they become available in the future.
Those that didn’t bank their credits received products; those that tried to help the company out by waiting didn’t. I banked my credits for 6 months, and in October, when they should have been available, I was told that it would be March before I could use them. I’ve been e-mailing since the beginning of March with no response. Yesterday, I got this e-mail:
To all of our loyal customers,
We are writing to update you on the status of the promotion. As you may know, we were overwhelmed by an enormous number of reviews submitted in connection with the promotion, and we thank all of you who followed the rules and wrote honest, heartfelt reviews.
Unfortunately, many of those who submitted reviews merely sought the promotion’s benefits without providing a commensurate genuine, honest review. While we initially filled a large amount of orders, we simply do not have the resources to continue vetting the reviews to distinguish those that followed the rules from those that did not.
In order to continue as a business, we must amend the promotion. This is not a step we take lightly, but one which is necessary for the health of our business. Accordingly, we have decided to take down and remove from the site all reviews which were written as part of the promotion. All open orders using store credit and partial store credit will be cancelled, as well as all remaining store credit. In their place, we are providing a one-time use coupon for 40% off of any purchase. The purchase can be as large or small as you wish, but only you can use the coupon code-it is not transferrable, refundable, or redeemable for cash and it can only be used on full price merchandise. The coupon will be good until September 15, 2011. In order to get your coupon code you must email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. This email is only equipped to send you a personal coupon code.
We understand that this step may frustrate some. If you have constructive feedback, we look forward to hearing from you. Otherwise we look forward to focusing our customer service efforts on customers placing orders.
We thank you for your time and effort in writing reviews and value you as a customer.
What Went Wrong
So I am not going to receive any credit, and I’m angry. They clearly saw that their offer was going viral (how could it not?!) and didn’t place any limits on the amount of credit a person could earn. They didn’t make an effort to stop the promotion early when they could see that it was growing out of control. And they cheered, “We’re giving away over $1 million in store credit!” only to cancel many orders or delete the credits altogether.
Edited to add: The $1 million amount came from their press release on 8/30/10, when they posted: “Franklin Goose started out by giving $5 credits for every product review its customers made in March. Almost 1 million dollars in store credit was issued, helping thousands of families afford cloth diapering and other organic luxuries they couldn’t purchase before.” Note that they say ISSUED, not PAID. They ISSUED it, but didn’t actually allow that amount of credit to be redeemed. Not exactly helpful to those thousands of families who really could have used the credit they EARNED!
Their blog posted on 3/25/10:
…your store credit will last **at least** two years, so take your time using it and wait for the site load to cool down. We’re not going anywhere and our product selection and reviews keep improving every day.
I periodically checked on my account to see my credits unavailable (I had $495 banked, including 10% interest), and now they’re gone altogether. It hasn’t been one year, let alone two, so “take your time” is not exactly accurate.
They Wanted To Go Viral
Edited to add: Also interesting to note: Franklin Goose posted a $25,000 reward for a great idea to get “viral marketing” last February (2010). Surprised at how their promotion took off, when they solicited ideas to make themselves viral? Really now? They posted:
Have you always wanted a chance to prove your business and marketing skills? We have just launched the website www.franklingoose.com and have been trying to figure out how to apply Seth Godin’s viral marketing concepts to it. While the site is doing well it is not as viral as we would like it. We will give $25,000 to the person who gives us an idea we believe will make it viral.
I don’t think that this angry mom side is the ad campaign that Franklin Goose was hoping for when they started the promotion, but I think they have only themselves to blame. Viral they wanted, and viral they’re getting!
They got the value to their website, but what about the reviewers who did the work?
Now, I’m not being compensated in the way that they agreed to compensate me for my time and effort, and I’m angry about it! They got reviews, advertising and thousands of backlinks in exchange for store credits, and when it became overwhelming to them, they simply stopped paying. Knowing more now about search engine optimization and how Google loves those backlinks, this may just be the most valuable thing they received from the many reviewers who shared the promotion in e-mail, on blogs and message boards, through Facebook and Twitter. The number of backlinks is one indication of the popularity or importance of that website or page. (Thank you, Wikilinks.) Franklin Goose rode those backlinks to the first page of Google, an enviable spot for a very young company, and then backed out of the agreement that they made to get there after receiving the benefit.
“But it’s a freebie. You didn’t lose anything.”
I posted this in the comments (#12) but wanted it to be in the main section for those who don’t read the comments. In response to “It’s a freebie, you didn’t lose anything”
Let’s say you were contracted by a magazine to write short articles for $5 per article. You wrote a number of thoughtful, well written articles. (Not “looks good” but actual pros and cons of the topic, suggestions for alternatives, different ways to use a product, etc.) You’re asked to wait until the magazine is a bit more established before being paid, and agree to wait 6 months in exchange for higher pay. You agree, although you could have taken the money, because you want the magazine to be successful and you can wait a few months.
In the meantime, you shared with your community that your articles were there, boosted the name recognition and reputation of the magazine, and otherwise increase their readership during that time. The magazine decides, after a year of putting you off, that it won’t pay you according to the initial agreement, even though they’ve benefited from your articles for the length of that year. It has gotten the value of your work, but it hasn’t followed through on its side of the deal.
It’s not a freebie. It’s a payment for services rendered. They agreed to pay me $5 for a review. I did my part, writing reviews of only products I’d used – and having nannied for several natural-leaning families and cloth diapered two babies, I’d tried many of their products. They didn’t follow through on their end – paying me, in the form of store credit, according the the rules that they put in place.
Communication? What’s that?
In addition to being angry about losing the credits they agreed to give in exchange for free advertising and reviews, I’m also really, really disappointed in the way this has been handled and the complete lack of communication and customer service from this small business. I’ve e-mailed repeatedly and have had no response at all until the mass e-mail they sent yesterday. I have been unable to find a phone number on their website, and the physical location will not answer questions about online issues. I posted on their Facebook wall, only to have my post deleted. All of my correspondence has been polite and professional. I’m not alone; many other reviewers are reporting that their comments on Facebook are quickly deleted, e-mails ignored, and phone calls go unanswered.
Still Other Issues With the Goose
Others placed orders that took months to fill, and one mom posted that shortly after the promotion ended, she placed an for newborn clothes that never arrived. Instead, she got an e-mail a few months later telling her they cancelled the order because newborn clothes wouldn’t fit a baby anymore after the delay. (How did they know she wasn’t still pregnant, or ordering to have baby gifts on hand?) Now those credits are gone.
Some people have had credits removed from returned items purchased with their own money, Franklin Goose effectively stealing their money.
Still others have reported that they ordered products both with credit and money, and only the amount of product covered by the money was sent. Then the credit and the record of the order disappeared. At least work-at-home-mom was not paid for orders they were selling of her products.
I’m Not The Only Angry Mom
I’m not the only angry mom. The mom-message boards are lit up about this and several Facebook groups have sprung up, including The Other Side of Franklin Goose and Boycott Franklin Goose. They’e got a number of complaints on Reseller Ratings, and their BBB rating has plummeted to an F. There are murmurs about taking the complaint to local news “consumer watchdogs”, the state consumer complaint board, attorney general, and at least one mom is contacting suppliers and urging them to stop selling through Franklin Goose. There is even talk of suing for fraud.
Heather Long is using Gripe to spread the word.
Jennifer Harbin is also using Gripe.
Knit One, Live Two posts Franklin Goose- unethical, deceptive, dishonest
Life: Full of Unexpected Happiness posts Franklin Goose… over their heads?
Luxury Living, Frugal Style posts Franklin Goose Taking Store Credits Away and Canceling Orders
Please let me know of others to add to the list.
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Did you participate in the promotion? Did you get anything with your credit, or did you get the same email as me?
*** If you were taken by this scam, please go to the original posting HERE to add your experience for the author.
(This page is undergoing edits as more information becomes available, and to make it easier to read. Please let me know if there is something I’ve left out.)